Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Redefining Longevity

Today’s workforce is more dynamic than ever before; new generation employees will change jobs and even careers a number of times throughout their working lives. This does not have to be a bad thing, business owners need to look at longevity in a new way – it may not be about keeping someone in the same position forever, it is perhaps about keeping talent in your company long enough to maximise the time and enthusiasm new employees bring.

You can hire the best and brightest candidates and they will come in bringing fresh perspectives and ideas; they will soak up the knowledge you have to offer, pour their heart and soul into the work, master the skills benefiting your business and then move on as their interest wanes. Isn’t that perhaps better than trying to keep someone who has lost their zeal for your business?

This workforce wants a lot out of the jobs that are available to them - they want to be engaged, to learn and grow and to feel that they are contributing. If you want to get the most out of them, it needs to be a fair trade. This is the perfect opportunity for small businesses to take the lead over larger businesses.

There is a common misconception that bigger corporations provide the best job security and have more room for growth and progression in a clear career path. In fact, it is more likely that a new employee will simply be a small cog in a very large machine; a larger company is more likely to downsize, resize or refocus as times get tough, and the rule of thumb tends to be “last in, first out”.

Smaller businesses can offer a new employee far more attention, more input and accountability, more mentoring and access to business leadership. As you grow, your staff can grow with you. A small business is more agile, more flexible and more likely to change which is more difficult with legacy staff, newer younger staff are more likely to accept and even welcome change. You also have the ability to teach specialised skills and ways of doing things that will translate across any further fields your employee might look to explore in the future.


Regardless of the size of your business, the way to optimise your staff is through effective employee engagement; it is the only way to get full investment, more productivity, better service, and greater longevity from them. You need to give your employees trust and responsibility, allow them to set their own goals and provide valuable input and to feel heard. This new version of longevity has so much to offer, utilise it instead of treating it as a risk to be managed.

*As published in Accountancy South Africa magazine in May 2014 

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