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.
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.
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:
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.