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When a long-term, highly valued employee quits, organizations commonly experience a loss of talent with detrimental effects on the morale and productivity of the person’s team and department. In addition, the effect of the valued employees’ resignation can also ripple across the organization triggering an exodus of people with similar tenure and value.

It is the job of HR professionals to ensure such scenarios are prevented by keeping the long-standing employees engaged. To boost engagement in long-standing employees, it is not only necessary to offer competitive pay and work perks but also to show that they are valued through appreciation, recognition, and long service rewards.

Who are Long Tenured Employees?

A tenured employee is one who has been with a company or organization for a significant amount of time. Out of these, long-tenured employees are those who have been with a company for more than five years, while short-tenured employees have been with the organization for fewer than five years.

The Need to Retaining your Long Tenured Employees

Employee retention is important for organizations as it costs money and time to replace talent, especially the most productive ones. The need for the intellectual capital and wisdom of long-standing employees becomes apparent during times of corporate change, such as acquisitions and mergers.

Tenured employees who know every detail of the organization act as buffers against the shock of change to make it more seamless. They can maintain the workflow and the total consistency of the organization’s output which newer employees will have difficulty contending with. As essential assets for any organization, long-standing valued employees offer the following benefits:

  • They provide a solid knowledge base of the organization’s culture, products, and services.
  • They are an indispensable support system for new employees.
  • Their presence indicates stability in the organization, which boosts its employee value proposition.
  • Retaining valued employees is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

What does it Mean to Engage Tenured Employees?

Employee engagement is employees' enthusiasm and commitment to their job and workplaces. Therefore by definition, a tenured, highly valued employee should also be highly engaged to make it that far. However, the reality is quite counterintuitive.

According to a survey by Gallup, employees with the longest tenure tend to be the least engaged. The study also uncovered that the longer the tenure, the more likely the employees would be actively disengaged. On the positive side, Gallup's data also suggested that high-performing employees had three things in common:

  • Their tenure was more than a decade.
  • They were highly engaged in their roles.
  • Their roles and natural talents were in alignment.

Role of Appreciation in Tenured Employee Engagement and Retention

Employee appreciation is the act by organizations to acknowledge the inherent value of their people and not only their job performance. There are a number of reasons why tenured employees quit ranging from improper roles and talent fit to toxic work cultures and management changes.

Over time many long-standing employees can fade into the background with their contributions being taken for granted. Employee appreciation and recognition remind everyone in the organization about the interdependence of teams and the inherent value of all employees.

7 Effective Tips for Keeping Tenured Employees Engaged and Retained

While new employees are pleased with the rewards and recognition they receive, the question remains on how to recognize employees for years of service. Recognition and rewards do not work on a one-size-fits-all model. Tenured employees need long service recognition to distinguish their contributions. Here are some suggestions:

1. Offer highly competitive pay

Offering above-average pay with great benefits is one of the most obvious ways to retain a long-standing valued employee. The pay and benefits alone can help lock your best employees in and incentivize them to stick around. Additional benefits such as retention bonuses are extra incentives to keep them happy and performing well. Benefits such as health insurance, vision, and dental coverage, paid time off, and even a retirement plan can be essential.

2. Share the financial success

While competitive pay is a strong motivator by itself, sharing financial success with your top performers could be all the motivation they need to stay put and do their best. Since their contribution matters significantly to the organization’s success, it is only a fair deal to allow them to reap some of the financial rewards. You can offer them stock options along with annual raises with similar rewards.  

3. Offer flexibility and irresistible perks

Hybrid work and flexibility are now the new norms. The benefits that come with flexible working options are now one of the most sought-after by employees. To keep your top performers happy, giving them more autonomy over their work is important. Other perks include paid vacation time, reasonable sick leaves, shopping vouchers and discounts, all expenses, paid trips and lunches, etc. These little things can significantly impact the overall satisfaction of your employees with the organization.

4. Invest in skill development and growth

Staying with the same organization for years can also mean some degree of stagnation for the long haulers. Employees often jump when they feel their skills start growing blunt. To overcome this issue, you can promote your valued employees for higher compensation and responsibility. Investing in your employees' education and career development is the other way to ensure they stay sharp and stick around for the continued benefits. Since the need for new skills, especially in the IT industry, is a must, investment in their up-skilling benefits both.

5. Match roles with natural talents

As seen from the Gallup study above, the top-performing employees are always well-matched with their roles. Their natural talents enable them to take on meaningful challenges and deliver value consistently. Over time they would grow to take on bigger challenges and responsibilities that keep them strongly engaged.

6. Reward and recognize frequently

Rewards and recognition are tangible aspects of employee appreciation. It includes team celebrations, financial compensation, acknowledgment mementos, long service rewards, and tenure awards. While the first few methods are common to all employees, long service recognition and awards are reserved for those who reach the 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years mark.

Although long tenure used to be 20+ years, the definition has changed to incorporate the short tenure work culture. Long service awards could include gift cards and vouchers, electronics, holidays, travel vouchers, wellness kits, and experiences.

7. Appreciate their expertise through mentorship programs

One of the best ways to show your tenured employee that their skill is valued is by enrolling them in mentorship programs. These programs pair experienced employees with juniors to transfer knowledge while the juniors are still learning the ropes. Mentorship programs boost employee engagement as it validates their skill and improves job satisfaction.

Closing Thoughts

Long-tenured employees are some of the most influential people in an organization as they bring a wealth of knowledge, skills, experience, and wisdom to their roles. It is possible for even the most seasoned long hauler to lose their motivation and engagement over time. Therefore it is important to appreciate valued employees through regular rewards and recognition and boost their engagement.

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