In a tight labor market, companies bet big on five-year rewards

NEW YORK (Reuters) – In the old days, longtime employees in the United States were honored with a gold watch after 30 years or so at a company.

FILE PHOTO: A woman is seen in silhouette walking through Grand Central Station in New York September 25, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Well, they have got nothing on Hadas Streit.

The senior vice president at the global public relations firm Allison + Partners recently returned from a one-month paid sabbatical, awarded to staffers after only five years at the company. During that time, she rented a house in Cape Cod for a couple of weeks.

Streit, who is based in New York, swears she did not check her work email once.

“The last time I wasn’t working was back when I was a kid,” says Streit. “It’s a little scary, but when you come back, you feel refreshed, with new drive, and ready to work again.”

Streit is not alone in enjoying some fast-tracked work recognition. Workplace anniversary awards are offered by 63 percent of companies, according to the 2018 Benefits Survey of the Society for Human Resource Management. And rewards rose 9 percent in a single year.

The five-year honor has taken particular hold in work cultures like Silicon Valley, where intense lifestyles and endless project deadlines can easily lead to employee burnout.

Social media giant Facebook (FB.O) has been offering its “Recharge” program since 2015: It is a 30-day period (the days have to be continuous, but do not have to be taken right at the five-year mark) which staffers can

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