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BusinessLong-Term Employment: Is Institutionalisation a Concern?

Long-Term Employment: Is Institutionalisation a Concern?

Could prolonged tenure with a single organisation harm an individual’s prospects of finding new employment? While longevity can signify loyalty and consistent performance, some employers may perceive candidates who have spent more than a decade with one employer as ‘institutionalised’.

In an era of rapid technological advancements and economic fluctuations, businesses seek employees who can thrive in swiftly changing environments. Some employers believe they mitigate hiring risks by identifying candidates with diverse work experiences. This perspective can inadvertently lead to bias against those who have remained loyal to a single employer for many years.

Fiona McDonald, Business Operations Manager for Walmsley Wilkinson Executive Recruitment, comments, “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, with London clocking in at just seven years. Conversely, over 1 in 10 people in the UK have never stayed with the same employer for more than a year.

Not surprisingly, age influences tenure, with younger individuals changing roles more frequently than previous generations. Tech companies boast the shortest average tenure, while the public sector boasts the highest. The days of ‘hire to retire’ are dwindling, and the concept of ‘psychological contracts’ from previous years, where employees dedicated their lives to their employers, is fading away.

Fiona further adds, “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 a considerable time with an organisation, they must be prepared to showcase the tangible benefits to a future employer, such as enhanced skills, experience, training, exposure to technology, increased responsibilities, promotions, and adapting to changing company dynamics. To demonstrate adaptability and versatility, they may need to illustrate that, regardless of their tenure, they have continuously acquired knowledge, can provide fresh perspectives, adapt to (and introduce) new technologies, and bring creativity, resilience, new ideas, and energy to their next employer.

So, before you dismiss a candidate from the interview roster due to their long tenure with one company, it might be worth reconsidering – a second look at their credentials could lead to your business discovering a hidden gem.

Walmsley Wilkinson, owned by partners Linda Walmsley and Taryn Wilkinson, offers professional solutions for executive and management recruitment needs. They support various organisations, including large corporations, family-owned entities, private equity, and the third sector, in identifying and securing the best leadership talent across the UK and internationally.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. 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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