Long service redefined

A good friend, whose business has been successful for more than two decades, admits one defeat. He has no member of staff with more than 8 years’ service. Is he a monster or a slave driver? No, he’s an urbane intellectual with a highly developed social conscience.Long service

In future, he tells me he will award Long Service commendations to any member of staff who reaches the 5-year mark. In addition, he has decided to make 5 years the timeline for directed turnover. If you work for him and have not improved your contribution within that time, he will let you go. Harsh measures?

Let’s take the one that made you smile – Long Service awards for 5 years served. Here he is right on trend. The younger working population show no enthusiasm for long service with a single employer. Academic advisers tell them to build portfolio careers. Their peers ridicule anyone in post beyond 3 years.

Managing Millennials is not about retention. It’s about extracting value while you have them, and turning them over in a mutually beneficial way. Leaving the door open for the better ones to return later.And what do you offer a Millennial, when she reaches the grand old (company) age of five? Recent MTV survey show that 88% want co-workers to be their friends. Yet LinkedIn also says that 68% would sacrifice a friendship with a colleague for promotion. And what about the 34% who would quit a job on the spot if their employer asked them to delete their Facebook page?

My own work in African companies has shown me that recognition of contribution (more than financial reward) is increasingly important to the emerging workforce. I recommend recognising behaviours that support your organisation’s values and culture. You can also highlight initiatives that have benefitted the business. Someone who reworks shift timings to improve work-life balance and reduce sick days, for example. Or opens a sales prospect that the Company hasn’t traded with before.

The best employee rewards are tailored to the interests and motivations of an individual. Think beyond supermarket vouchers. Think developmental opportunities, or even external training. And the way employee rewards are delivered can have a major impact on engagement levels. For Millennials, recognition must be instant and integrated with social media content. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, may prefer Linked In or even face-to-face delivery!

Finally, let’s tackle the point that made you gasp. Why shouldn’t you release employees who are no longer growing? Give a moderate employee a 10% annual increment and by the 5-year mark they’ll be costing you double. There are better people out there who deserve to earn that wage.


Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside


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