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Why Service Awards Have Nothing to Do with Employee Engagement

Who among you reading this blog post has been with your company more than five years? More than ten? Regardless of your current tenure, do you see yourself staying for decades and eventually retiring there?

Chances are the answer is “no.”

As this blog post from LinkedIn earlier this week aptly explains, the traditional model of lifetime employment is dying. Companies have to make impersonal decisions based on financial pressures and business needs every day, so why should employees be expected to behave any differently?

No need to mourn the lost days of the lifetime employee though—some of the best and most innovative companies have the most mobile workforces. This article from last year ranking companies by turnover rate puts Google and Amazon among the highest. Clearly they are doing just fine without the undying loyalty of their workers.

Of course it’s nice to show appreciation for longevity, but we no longer need employees to pretend they’re going to stay at a job forever, nor do employers need to play along with this charade. Let’s all make the most of the time we have together.

An employee’s tenure says little about their value or impact, just as a service award every five years means nothing about how an employee is treated and managed daily. If you want to engage your employees, show the value your organization brings to THEM in the form of experience, career development, and fulfillment. Naturally, doing so will improve your company’s results and attract better talent. And even if most of them are not going to be with you long enough to get the 30-year milestone Rolex, you’ll have their best efforts until the next best thing comes along.

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