Colleague’s 5 year work anniversary

I’m just back down at my desk in work from a small celebration of a colleague’s 5 year anniversary. It’s making me wonder if beyond the paycheck there’s much point to company loyalty.

I don’t work for a company that values its employees and if I had have known it would be as miserable working here as it is, then I would have probably not joined.

I left one company in 2015 after thinking that they would fire me (there was a mass cull of the dead wood at the time and they made me an offer I could not refuse – and it suited my plans to become the GFFather. I moved job, moved house, started the family and never looked back.

GFF father.PNG

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

Part of growing up and maturing is learning to sacrifice the idealism of your youth and to learn to compromise. Nothing’s all that black and white but different shades of grey. I’ve made my choices and stand by them but I can’t say that they are perfect.

But I’m coming up 4 years now in the company and since in my job I get to visit a lot of other companies and see how they work – I know that the grass is greener on the other side. I stick it out now because I’m a pragmatist and anything much better would be much harder or involve an ungodly commute – who wants to do that?

Many happy returns

Anyway, today a boss in the company comes to tell us to come upstairs for a colleague’s 5th anniversary award. I had only eaten breakfast this morning and thought maybe we’ll have cakes or something like that – (I know it’s not good for me but I’m hungry!)

photo frame

So we all trot upstairs and my colleague who has been in the company since he graduated is awarded a transparent magnetic photo frame with a certificate saying “In appreciation of 5 years…”.

The photo frame is similar to what is shown below and costs £3.65 but since there’s a load of these going around, we probably got a bulk discount.

There was nothing else – no gift voucher for a meal or £20 to spend at M&S. Nothing at all. And it transpires that this is the type of present you get on all your milestones here. We even have to pay for our own Christmas party.

The photo frame and certificate are symbolic of how the company appreciates you and my feeling is that they don’t really appreciate us and maybe that’s alright. If loyalty is a natural human trait, are HR trained to learn how to abuse this to maximise employee output for minimal (of £3.65 whichever is lower) cost?

In my previous company (with a final salary pension) there was a feeling that you were working for the collective and that loyalty would be rewarded. Ok, that is idealism and rose-tinted memories but it certainly was a big feature of life there. Those pensions are generally unsustainable but there’s not much reason for me to keep working in this company barring the annual bonus. It means that loyalty over time just becomes career inertia.

In this company and I think every other company I will work for, I’ll be considering what’s the pay off for me now because 5 years is too long to wait for a disappointment like that.

So what’s your take on workplace loyalty? What would you expect for 5 years at a company or 10 year or 20 years? Does it make it worth the wait?

Thanks, GFF



  1. I wouldn’t expect anything and I dislike working for companies that offer such rewards, as they value seniority in the time served sense whereas I personally value the value an individual adds to the organisation, not how long they’ve been around.

    • that’s an intriguing view – and I can understand what you are getting at and at my old company the old hands certainly didn’t work the fastest (and didn’t like getting dirty!)
      But if you want to make people feel valued or appreciated it’s something that is relatively easy to do.
      I once worked with a team of people who executed a project that had a budget of around £100m and due to shift changes, everyone got a t-shirt including those who were not really invovled but this shift didn’t. The t-shirts cost pennies and these guys were all well paid but the deep sense of unfairness rumbled on for years afterwards.
      For the cost, low-morale is a high price to pay.

  2. I once left a job where I had had two additional duties, one unpaid the other underpaid. When they tried to replace me on those duties they found it necessary to pay the new guys (different guys) extra. Thanks a bunch, I thought. Thereafter additional duties had to be adequately paid or I refused them.

    Best of all, I reckoned, get an additional duty where there was extra pay – however modest – and virtually no chance of extra work. And I found one. I was a pretty dutiful employee but I had shed some youthful illusions.

  3. Company loyalty like consumer loyalty is generally pointless these days, especially now that DB pension schemes have mostly vanished. I had 18 years with one company and I stayed that long because the salary and benefits were good – including an unsustainable DB pension scheme. Alas the company realised that long serving members of staff were hideously expensive so many of us were outsourced and then right sized ( allowed to seek opportunities elsewhere ). I’ve had a couple of jobs since then and I’ve only stayed as long as they have suited me. The key things I look for in a job now are flexible hours and an easy commute so I can get my 5 year old son to school and back. Being FI it means I can dictate my terms. These days it feels that the only way to get a significant pay rise is either to take on a lot more duties and work longer hours or change jobs. I last changed jobs about 8 months ago and I managed a 50% pay rise.

  4. At the last place I worked, they offered a DB salary, good benefits package and every 5-year anniversary, you got an extra day’s holiday, plus high street vouchers. Most staff hung around for a long time (including myself, where I bagged the 4 extra days).

    Compared to the company I work for now where there is no such incentive (aside from the possibility of an annual group bonus) and there is a really high turnover of staff at all levels, which I find really disruptive and stops the company from progressing properly, eg one step forward, two steps back. Processes you expect to be in place fall away as people leave so you end up starting all over again.

    It’s not just about company loyalty, it seems like without incentives, people are less likely to be engaged with the company, much more ‘jobsworth’ because they’re only in it for themselves.

  5. “We even have to pay for our own Christmas party”

    Ugh, we used to have that at my old place of work. That was in the public sector so I assumed it was just a FOI defence mechanism. Employers need to understand that, even though asking you to stump up £20-30 is a fraction of what you earn, it feels much more in emotional/morale terms

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