How to Avoid Decreased Engagement for Tenured Employees

emoticons showing decreased engagement for tenured employees

Employee Engagement Declines with Tenure
Unfortunately decreased engagement for tenured employees is the norm.  Our latest employee engagement trends report showed engagement tends to decline with tenure.  Longer-term employees are, on average, less engaged than your newer employees.

Why Newer Employees are More Engaged
A new job can be both exhausting and exhilarating. On the one hand, new employees are struggling to understand the performance expectations, working step-by-step up a daunting learning curve, and trying to start off on the right foot.  On the positive side, new employees report feeling welcomed by new colleagues, excited to meet new challenges, and thrilled to learn new skills.  From an employee engagement perspective, a new job offers heightened possibilities to feel wanted, needed and appreciated – the very foundation of workplace engagement.

The Honeymoon Period
But how long does this so-called new job honeymoon last for new employees?  Far too short according to the over 500,000 employee engagement survey responses we review each and every year.  In fact, for most companies the level of employee engagement falls significantly after the first year on the job regardless of industry, size or geography.

Four Ways to Avoid Decreased Engagement for Tenured Employees
Decreased engagement for tenured employees that second or third year need not be inevitable.  There are ways to keep your new-ish employees fully committed to their job throughout by:

1. Providing Continued Training and Development
Once your new employee has “learned the ropes,” don’t let their job go stale. Continue to help them improve their skills and learn new ones that will increase their job efficiency and satisfaction.  Ask for their ideas on how the job could be done better.  As they improve, add bit-by-bit to their responsibilities to give them a real sense of their value to the enterprise.

2. Creating New Growth Opportunities
Besides supporting their growth in the current job, give them opportunities to learn about the company from different perspectives. Invite them to upper level meetings, give them time to attend industry conferences, ask for their help in designing plans for the future.  In short, expand their thinking around new ways to contribute and add welcome variety to their day-to-day routine.

3. Conduct Meaningful One-on-Ones
Are your one-on-one meetings becoming so unvaried in their structure and content that they are lacking real value? Think about what you can do to spark more meaningful conversations – conversations that focus not just on the employee’s performance but on their overall goals and aspirations.  The more you can take advantage of an employee’s true motivators and talents, the happier that employee will be.

4. Give Satisfying Recognition
It’s no secret that a major piece of high employee engagement is emotionally satisfying and meaningful recognition. That means that you can’t simply keep thanking your employee in the same, repetitive way.  Change up the way you express your appreciation – in front of the team, in the employee newsletter, with a pizza lunch in their honor, by an excused late morning arrival, or with a favored parking space.

Use your imagination and keep employee recognition specific, proportionate and meaningful.

The Bottom Line
Do you sense that those employees you hired a year or so ago are losing motivation?  Then try the tips above to keep them on target and engaged.

To learn more about how to engage and retain top talent, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

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