Employee Retention Problems: When They Stay Too Long

retention problems when employees stay too long

The issue of an employee with a long tenure can actually be just as difficult to deal with as high employee turnover. While the average tenure at a company in the US falls between four and five years, we do on occasion see employees stay beyond this, often well beyond. Certainly, this can be a good thing; however, it all depends on the employee. For an employee with a negative attitude and work ethic, it can present a downside that business owners must navigate to prevent the long-tenured employee from having an adverse effect on the company and on other employees as well.

What are the common issues associated with employees who stay on for a long time? Disengagement is one issue. When something becomes fairly commonplace, an individual becomes more apt to “phone it in.” There can also be the problem of burnout with an employee who’s been with you for a long time. Additionally, boredom is very real among some employees, particularly those who’ve done the same job for years on end.

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What Makes an Employee Stay with a Company?

In this current climate in which there are high turnover rates among employees and where labor shortages are hampering numerous US businesses, the employee with a long tenure might seem like a bit of an anomaly. They do exist, and there are reasons why they tend to stay put. Among some of the more common reasons why employees stay with a firm for a long period of time are:

  • They Long for Stability

    Things are constantly changing. And there are people who can have a difficult time with change and upheaval. In terms of their career, they prefer to cling to what has been working, thinking that this is what will continue to work. In other words, they thrive on the stability their job provides.
  • They Like the Recognition They Receive

    For many people, knowing that they are doing their job and accomplishing their goal is important to them. Being recognized within the company for achieving objectives is a huge boon to their psyche—even if those objectives are just the bare minimum of what they need to do.
  • They Like the Seniority

    Obviously, when someone is employed by the same company for a period of time, they will generally have seniority over newer hires. From a psychological perspective, this can be very important to some people.

what is the difference between attrition vs turnover

What Can You Do with a Long Tenure Employee?

If an employee has been there for a relatively long period of time, and yet their growth is nonexistent, then it may be time to address the situation head-on. Especially if that employee is complacent and thereby contributing to the aura of stagnation that seems to be plaguing the business, you want to take action as ignoring the issue will likely not make it go away.

  1. Give Them Room to Grow

    For those “super-tenured” employees, the issue may be that they really haven’t had ample opportunity for career growth. One thing you as the boss can do is to give them access to classes and training that will enable them to update their skills. Upskilling opportunities could excite the employee and re-spark their interest in their job and overall career.

  2. Perform a Comprehensive Evaluation

    Every employee needs feedback from time to time. A comprehensive evaluation of a long-time employee’s performance and overall productivity might just be the eye-opener that person needs to see where they may be lagging a bit in their responsibilities and what they could do to improve and thus meet requisite metrics.
    RELATED: Revisiting the Performance Review - Does It Need to Be Fixed? >>
  3. Hire New Employees

    If you have the room and the budget, then bringing in new employees could potentially help you to jumpstart growth. The longer-tenured staff will most likely become more motivated to do better and perform up to par. Not to mention, you bring a fresh perspective to the team dynamic inherent within the company by introducing new faces. A couple of things to keep in mind when bringing in new staff: make sure everyone has some opportunities to get to know each other, also make sure that the new employees feel empowered, and finally, don’t shortchange the existing team, it is key to highlight their successes up to this point.
  4. You May Have to Make a Difficult Call 

    If a long-tenured employee refuses to engage and or evolve in their role, then it may be time for termination. Particularly when dealing with employees who’ve been with you for a while, this can be a hard thing to do. Be direct in your dialogue and clearly explain what the issues are and why you are faced with having to make this decision

RELATED: Time to Say Goodbye? 15 Tips for Effective Terminations >>

Axcet HR Solutions: Here for Kansas City Businesses

Employee situations such as those involving long-tenured employees can sometimes be difficult to navigate. If you need advice or help from an expert HR consultant, we are here for you. Call today and let’s solve your problem together, one step at a time!

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