Appreciating Employee Milestones in the Workplace

6 min. read

Employees who feel under-appreciated are twice as likely to quit. Appreciating milestones is one way to make your employees feel seen.

People take stock of their lives at certain points. Things change as life goes on and taking time to re-evaluate priorities and goals is a normal human reaction. There are times in your life that make you think more than others. It is times like this that people quit. Keeping up to date with your team members and co-workers is part of being a good manager in a great place to work. Knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are is one thing but getting to know them better on a personal level requires a bit more care and attention. The Great Resignation has been tearing teams apart and costing businesses lots of money in rehiring and training. In 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit. 44 percent of employees are looking for other job opportunities. {Willis Towers Watson’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey}

Replacing a valued member of your team is imperative if you want to keep your organization running. The cost of hiring an employee is more than just paying for their salary. You need to factor in the added costs of time taken to recruit and train them as well as the financial cost of the training and the recruitment company. Companies spent over $92 billion in 2020-2021 on training their employee. Research suggests that it can take longer than 6 months for a company to break even on its investment when they hire someone new. That is half a financial year! While they are getting up to speed you are losing business and opportunities that could be capitalized on if you had a team that can react swiftly. The team is only as strong as its weakest link and until the new hire can carry their own weight they simply can’t be the team member you desire because they don’t have the experience necessary. Gallup estimates that employee turnover accounts for $1 trillion in costs for American businesses.

If it costs such a large amount of money to replace someone who leaves it means that retaining your staff will save you money. By making an effort to keep your team happy you will stand a better chance of building an amazing workplace and that should go a long way to stopping them from seeking greener pastures elsewhere. Their work-life balance needs to be thought about and attended to. Treat them like human beings, not numbers or someone who wears a hat. Studies have shown that employees who feel under-appreciated are twice as likely to quit.


Milestones were originally stones set up beside a road to mark the distance in miles to a particular place. You can still see them today. Although we now use signs as mile markers some still remain. The term came to be used to describe a significant stage or event in life or the development of something.


Birthdays are important. They are a significant milestone in someone’s life. They start thinking about their goals and priorities especially when they hit big birthdays like 40 or 50. Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that 12 percent of people who get to these milestones begin actively looking for another job. Trying to find out if your staff are happy isn’t always easy but you need to be preemptive if you don’t want to suddenly be thrust into a position of desperately trying to hold onto a valued leader or manager and trying to counteroffer another prospective employer. Be aware that people's lives are marked by occasions and memories. Make good memories and treat them with respect and show them they are valued and you should find they stay longer.

You don’t have to throw them a big party at the office. You don’t need to give them a cake at their desk. Find out what they like and make sure you don’t treat them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable in any way. For instance, they may not want everyone to know they have just turned 50. In that case, setting up a giant “HAPPY 50TH!” balloon and a piñata is probably going to end badly.


Keep an eye out for times when one of your team members has a gathering like a class reunion or some such event. These sorts of milestones tend to make people take stock and compare themselves to the other folks in their group. Seeing an old school friend can be a catalyst to try and compete. Research shows that job hunting jumps 16 percent after reunions.

Work Anniversaries

People want to feel like they are progressing and not just stuck in a rut. They want to do better and grow. Stagnation can make you feel like there is nothing better than can happen. When you have worked at a certain place for a while and you suddenly realize that you have been there for a certain number of years it can cause you to begin considering your choices, especially if you don’t feel appreciated or valued, and all of a sudden the grass starts to look greener elsewhere.

Milestones like an anniversary of joining the company cause 6 percent of employees to start looking for a different job. Job-hunting jumps to 9 percent when the anniversary is for moving into a current role.

When someone leaves your team it leaves a hole in the production capability of your organization, no matter what you do as a business. Retaining your staff members, especially your specialist skilled team members, is essential if you want to protect the longevity of your endeavor. The cost of losing people due to an oversight on your part is so high that you need to make sure your people are happy. Watch out for milestones both in their personal life and in your company. Your turnover will be affected by the milestones observed by the people in the business or organization because it is them that make up the morale, sentiment, and culture of the undertaking.

Trust is the most important part of the organization that is affected by losing members, especially when it comes to working anniversary milestones. Losing an excellent salesperson or someone who deals with customers who have been with you for a long time can mean you lose business. Trust is built between your customers and your team members and they can feel betrayed or lost when the person they have been talking to for years suddenly leaves. Trust is a vital currency for any business.