5 Secrets to Keeping Your Long-Term Employees Engaged

Apr 20, 2017
6 Min Read
5 Secrets to Keeping Your Long-Term Employees Engaged


5 Secrets to Keeping Your Long-Term Employees Engaged


Often we think we know long-term employees really well. After all, they’ve been around for what seems like forever. We know how they like their coffee, the name of their family dog and even their favorite shirt (worn every Thursday). But those assumptions can cause managers to assume they know what motivates such workers, and take it for granted that they are already engaged.

The Impact of Indifference on Employee Engagement

Despite what many leaders believe, new research shows it’s a company’s most experienced and valuable workers who may be the least motivated. In fact, a Gallup survey finds that only 5% of employees with 10 or more years with a company say they are engaged at work in roles that are the right fit for them.

Tenured workers are a key component of a company’s ongoing success because they know how an organization works and how to get things done with fewer problems or dissent—and they can often predict how colleagues will behave and respond. If they’re not engaged, they may just go through the motions of the job, with quality of work and productivity often the biggest casualties.

Finding That Employee Engagement “Sweet Spot”

So how can you energize and engage your long-term workers? Career expert, Daniel Pink says that science shows us that motivation needs to be built around the desire to “do things because they matter, because we like it, they’re interesting, or part of something important.”

That means we want autonomy to direct our own lives; mastery to get better at something that matters and purpose to, as Pink puts it, “do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

With that in mind, here are a few ideas for keeping your long-term (as well as newer employees) happier, more motivated, and highly productive:

  • Match them with great people. Gallup suggests that employees can see tenure as meaningful if they are paired with great managers who help them continue to grow. Asking them to mentor others is also a great way for them to participate in nurturing new talent while being valued for the experience and expertise they share.  
  • Connect to learn. Find the emotional connection people have with
    the organization and their teams. Ask “What’s important about the work you do, and what changes would help make a positive difference in how you carry out  that job?”
  • Help empower their ideas to action. Long-time employees often have valuable insight into business processes and workflows that could be improved for better, faster outcomes. Giving them tools such as no-code web app development platforms can empower them to be workplace heroes, creating problem-solving solutions for themselves and their teams that help them get more work done, more easily.
  • Deliver a better work experience. With new business-built apps capable of driving more efficient processes, automated workflows, and anytime anywhere access, what may not have been possible before may be possible now. For instance, the ability to take on that special project that previously lacked for time, or gaining work/life balance by being able to go home on time or take advantage of flexible or remote work options.
  • Show appreciation. Some employers get nervous when experienced employees begin to reach the top of their salary range. But if you consider that the cost of turnover runs about 50% of the first-year-salary to train and hire a new worker, giving a pay raise may be much cheaper. And a pay raise that helps keep a long-term employee content and engaged—especially one who is part of the growing population of business professionals building efficiency-boosting business apps—is most likely to deliver considerable returns on the investment.

What You Stand to Gain

Employees who hit the trifecta of tenure, engagement and talent, perform 18% higher than the average worker and 35% higher than an employee who has none of these things. In terms of dollars, Gallup estimates that highly educated professionals can double a company’s outcome from $12 million to $23 million per 1,000 workers.

That’s reason enough to maintain or reignite the “spark” that drives greater employee satisfaction and engagement—whether they are celebrating their first day or their 10th anniversary.