A service award is part of a formal program that recognizes an employee that has served a specific period of time in your organization.  It was typical for the first milestone of recognition to be after the accomplishment of 5 years of service, but more and more we see companies starting to recognize employees after 1 year of service.  The service award is traditionally a physical award, and hopefully, public recognition of this accomplishment that allows the employer to thank the employee for his or her service in front of their peers.