Organizations can benefit from seeking out their long-tenured employees and utilizing their knowledge and experiences as power. Benefits of retaining employees include the following:
- Money is saved by not having to recruit and train new employees;
- A high level of productivity is maintained because time is not lost in bringing new employees up to speed;
- Focus is on innovation and growth as opposed a state of uncertainty;
- Strategic planning is guided by their knowledge and experience;
- They are relied upon for input to help avoid repeating past mistakes;
- Veteran employees have already mastered their own job tasks and are key candidates for cross-training, which makes the company more productive and flexible;
- They mentor and train others, which prove beneficial to all parties: the person mentored develops new skills, the experienced employee feels appreciated and gains a fresh point of view, and the company grows.
Long-Tenured Employees as Mentors
The mentoring role challenges long-term employees and establishes them as leaders. They nurture the culture while also providing a team-building example for apprentice employees. As team leaders, they build effective teams by addressing the task that is to be accomplished, and identifying the level of authority it requires. Assuming the task is of a more permanent nature, the team members will be more likely to invest in building constructive working relationships if they anticipate working with each other over an extended period of time. When members do not anticipate a long-term task or project, they are likely to make less effort to improve the group’s performance.
Long-Tenured Employees as Leaders
As leaders, long-tenured employees use their knowledge and experience to provide clarity of direction to enable a team to familiarize itself with a task. When direction is clear, team members have a more informed perspective and as a result are better able to decide on the most appropriate approach for accomplishing a task efficiently and effectively.
The Challenges Organizations Face
In spite of the benefits of having long-tenured workers, companies are faced with the challenge of overcoming complacency by the existing employees and a lack of new blood and ideas from the outside. Long-tenured employees tend to become dissatisfied with repeatedly receiving the same benefits. Experts recommend that employers provide flex time, the latest technology, training opportunities to keep employees interested and satisfied.
A Human Resource Development (HRD) professional can utilize the knowledge and experiences of long-tenured employees (Subject Matter Experts) when designing training for new recruits. If given new challenges and opportunities, long-tenured employees can be a company’s greatest assets for many years to come. An HRD professional must realize that as human beings, the needs of seasoned employees are constantly changing. If left unchallenged, the employee becomes unhappy with himself and therefore unhappy with the company at which he or she is employed. HRD professionals must perform an analysis of the employee as a learner (learner analysis) to identify, design, and implement new training to challenge the employee so the cycle can begin anew. The employees who are in search or a challenge or promotion rather than just a pay raise are the employees who are valuable to the company throughout their careers.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A. Human Resource Development