5 Tips for Engaging Tenured Employees

5 Tips for Engaging Tenured Employees

5 Tips for Engaging Tenured Employees

For many managers or HR professionals, they’ve encountered an entitled tenured employee once or twice in their career. You know, the employee who thinks because they were a top performer in 2007 that they can slack off and still reap the benefits as someone producing twice the results but is half their age. Just because they have company “loyalty.”

It’s important for managers to recognize that isn’t “loyalty”; that is complacency. And that complacency is costing your company hours, productivity, and profitability. But have no fear, you can actually manage these tenured employees into productive and engaged employees. 

Here are 5 tips you can use to motivate and engage tenured employees:

1. Get rid of blanket rules

Tenured employees are already familiar with your policies. They also probably know better than most what works and what doesn’t work about what you have set in place. Ask them what they need from you. Listen to their concerns. Be reasonable about what you can accommodate for them.

For instance, if their work doesn’t have in-office restraints and they are asking for flexibility. Offer them flextime.

On the other end of the spectrum, eliminate any rules or policies that you have in place at your organization that gives perks or benefits based on tenure alone. Revise these practices to reward tenured employees who also reach performance expectations.

2. Define expectations upfront

Have a conversation with your tenured employees about what you expect from them and what they can expect from you at least once a year.

This is a great way to ensure that you and your employee are on the same page about how they are expected to perform, leaving little room for entitled-tenured-employee syndrome.

3. Give them autonomy

May be going out on a limb here but most (if not all) employees prefer to be treated like professional adults and not children. Unless employees ask you to be more involved in their day-to-day work or their poor performance deems it necessary, quit the hand-holding and micro-managing. This is a sure-fire way to disengage your employees.

Especially for salaried (exempt) employees, it is important to focus on the work being produced as opposed to the number of minutes they’re sitting at their desk.

Aside from giving them the responsibility of managing their own work, give them more ownership of the decisions being made regarding the projects they are working on. Listen to their feedback and implement their ideas. They will see this as a form of appreciation for their hard work and knowledge. 

4. Require accountability

Bestowing more freedom, flexibility, responsibility, and autonomy on your employees can yield great results. However, sometimes good intentions can turn sour. When this is the case, refer back to the clear expectations that you set with the employee upfront to appropriately assess the issues at hand. Be direct in your communication with these employees.

5. Invest in their development

Investing in the professional development of your employees shows them you value them and what they contribute to the organization. If a tenured employee is not performing up to expectations as they have in the past, encourage the employee to participate in coaching sessions or mentoring programs.   

Be sure to communicate the relevance of the training programs. It may be hard for a tenured employee to understand and accept that the training isn’t a sly to their performance but an opportunity to evolve and grow.

Tenured employees that are not top performers but feel a level of entitlement can be hurting your organization. Whether that be financially or even just the morale of the team around them, it is an issue that needs to be addressed delicately. Be firm and communicate openly and honestly to ensure the best chance for success.

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  • Samantha Vance

    Sam works with data to provide employers with insights into practices that create and support great workplaces. She manages both internal and client surveys and is a key contributor to our employee engagement practice. Sam also provides design support, statistical analysis, and client recommendations across all practice areas and for the NorthCoast 99 awards program.Sam earned her master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology research from Cleveland State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in business administration from Ohio University. Sam is certified in 21st Century Leadership.