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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Phenomenon of Institutionalisation Among Long-Term Employees

Is prolonged tenure with a single organisation a detriment to an individual’s prospects of securing new employment? While long-standing employment signifies loyalty and consistent performance, employers sometimes perceive candidates who have spent over a decade with one employer as being ‘institutionalised.’

In an era of rapid technological advancement and economic fluctuations, organisations seek employees who can thrive in swiftly changing environments. Some employers believe they mitigate hiring risks by identifying candidates with a history of working in diverse situations. This can lead to unconscious bias against those who have remained loyal to a single employer for many years.

Fiona McDonald, Business Operations Manager for Walmsley Wilkinson Executive Recruitment, asserts, “Employers are seeking to achieve an agile and flexible workforce with people who already have a track record of achieving success in varied environments. Whilst they do not want to employ habitual job-hoppers, many organisations are also reluctant to hire those who have been with their current employer for a long time. Businesses who approach hiring with negative perceptions of candidates who have stayed with one organisation for ten or twenty years, can miss out on some exceptional talent. In a long successful career with one employer, an individual can achieve promotions, role content changes, experience a variety of leadership teams, business growth, acquisitions, integrations, transformations, new products, services and technology. That hardly reflects being ‘institutionalised’.”

According to market research provider Censuswide, the average longest employment tenure in the UK exceeds a decade, while in London, it is just seven years. Conversely, over 1 in 10 individuals in the UK have never remained with the same employer for more than a year.

Not surprisingly, age plays a role in the length of service, with younger people changing roles more frequently than their predecessors. Tech companies boast the shortest average tenure, while the public sector claims the highest. The days of ‘hire to retire’ have largely faded, with few instances of ‘psychological contracts’ where employees devoted their entire career to a single employer.

Fiona continues, “Assuming that someone lacks drive, prefers to stay within their comfort zone and is unable to adapt to change, just because they have stayed long term with one organisation, is a flawed judgement. A candidate’s suitability and motivations should be explored through structured interviewing and not through preconceptions. Businesses that are successful in hiring the best talent, embrace diversity, have an open attitude and are keen to understand the reasons behind a candidate’s past tenure.”

If an employee has spent an extended period with an organisation, they should be prepared to demonstrate the tangible benefits of this to a potential employer. This may include enhanced skills, experience, training, familiarity with technologies, increased responsibilities, promotions, adaptation to company changes, and more. To prove their adaptability and versatility, they can highlight their continued knowledge acquisition, ability to offer fresh perspectives, and readiness to adapt to and introduce new technologies. They can emphasise their capacity for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and energy they bring to their next employer.

So, the next time you consider dismissing a candidate due to their lengthy tenure within one company, it may be wise to reconsider – a second look at their qualifications could lead your business to hire an exceptional talent.

Walmsley Wilkinson, co-owned by partners Linda Walmsley and Taryn Wilkinson, provides professional solutions for executive and management recruitment needs. They assist various organisations, including large corporations, family-owned enterprises, private equity firms, and the third sector in identifying and securing top leadership talent across the UK and internationally.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcockhttps://businesslancashire.co.uk/
Sam Allcock is a highly regarded digital entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in online marketing for some of the World’s biggest brands. He has extensive knowledge and experience in SEO and digital marketing. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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