We’re currently living through ‘The Great Resignation’ – a time where employees across the UK are re-evaluating their roles and switching jobs in huge numbers. Job hopping is now seen as the norm in many industries as today’s modern workforce demands much more from their employers than ever before.

Are you recognising your longest-serving staff

Even before Covid-19, the world of work was having to come to terms with falling levels of employee engagement. As people have become disengaged from their work and their employers, they’ve more than likely been asking themselves the question: ‘Why am I staying in a job I don’t enjoy with a company I dislike?’ But, instead of perhaps being afraid to quit and simply being grateful for having a job, more and more people are throwing caution to the wind and leaving for pastures new – as The Great Resignation is proving.

For that reason, recognising your valuable long-serving members of staff should be near the top of any good HR staff retention strategy!

Why should you recognise your longest serving employees?

The concept of long service awards to recognise when someone has stuck with an employer isn’t a new one – with some of us still able to remember when companies gifted a carriage clock or watch to celebrate 10, 20 and 40 years of continuous employment.

However, these traditional methods of recognising an employee’s long service were more suited to an era when people perhaps wanted a ‘job for life’. Today, the employment landscape is extremely different; with people staying in one job on average for only 4 years or less – and it’s less than 3 years for workers between the ages of 25-38. No carriage clocks for them, then…

There’s also the valid point that having ‘long term’ employees may not necessarily be a good thing, so why reward them at all? It could be argued that low staff turnover can actually hold a company back, as some levels of staff churn can be good for a business – especially when it comes to career advancement, fresh ideas and motivation levels.

Still, recognising the staff who continually add value to your business and stick around should remain a priority for HR teams. This is because – in the simplest of terms – when your organisation shows gratitude to its workforce for their continued hard work and dedication, it’s likely this will help them feel valued and enhance that lovely feeling of being part of a team – reducing the likelihood they’ll want to leave and join The Great Resignation. Plus, having an established workforce can also provide the following benefits:

  • It indicates a stable working environment

No one wants to be worrying about the state of their job, and it’s unlikely the top talent you want to attract will want to put their career at risk with a company that has a revolving door of staff! When an employee chooses to stay with a business and progress their career with them – particularly in larger organisations – it can indicate a safe, stable work environment that promotes and advances from within.

  • It’s cost and time effective

Constantly having to hire, train or replace employees can be both expensive for organisations and time-consuming for those hard-working HR teams. If you have employees who are fully-engaged with your business, there’s a better chance you can help them reach their fullest potential and grow within your business – meaning less time, money and resources spent trying to find candidates from outside your company or industry.

  • It creates an invaluable knowledge and support network

When you do have to bring new blood to your workforce, your long-term employees can be an invaluable support system as they will have gone through the whole process already. Plus, employees who have been with the company for many years will likely have an excellent knowledge of the company’s culture, products and services.

So, how can organisations reward their employee’s loyalty given that the average time in a role has dropped so much, but also ensure they’re both meaningful and engaging?

1. Make it central to any employee rewards retention strategy

Rewarding long-serving employees at your business should be part of any effective employee rewards strategy, but there are some key points you may want to keep in mind. These can be defining your key goals, how you’ll measure your goals, who’ll lead and manage your programme, what milestones will you look to reward, and what will your desired outcomes look like.

2. Ensure it’s easy to implement and manage

Having intuitive HR software that helps you track and manage your employee’s career paths is one way to help make any long service award simple to implement and continually manage. After all, no one wants to be buried in spreadsheets or overcome with diary reminders to run something that should be inherently simple! You should also aim to keep track of key progression dates, so you can ensure important career promises aren’t missed and those all-important key employment milestones can be marked, recognised and – in some cases – celebrated.

3. Make it visible

It might seem obvious, but communicating any long service rewards you decide to implement really can define its success. Think about it: if your employees are not aware that you reward company loyalty or are aware of the long service awards you offer, they won’t feel any kind of incentive to remain loyal to you! You can help make any long service rewards visible by including them in any new employee starter packs, adding them in your internal comms, and also making it visible on your company’s HR system.

4. Choose rewards your employees will love

Lastly, ensure any long service rewards you offer will really resonate with your staff – so don’t just resort to the old carriage clock! By understanding the demographics of your workforce, you can look to offer a long service reward that your employees will really value.