Experienced employees that have the resolve to stay with a company for the long-term count for a lot. They have a deep knowledge of the business, understand its culture and provide a sense of stability to the overall team. As a result, they hold a lot of value and organisations need to develop policies that make their tenured staff feel appreciated. At the heart of making experienced employees feel respected is understanding what factors influence happiness throughout the course of their careers.

Currently, the average tenure for an employee stands at nine years. However, in Germany and Belgium, the length of time an employee remains with a company rises to an average of 11 years, whereas in Australia, this figure drops by more than 30%, to only seven years.

There are no hard and fast rules that govern how long an employee will stay at a company. However, globally, employees ranked having a sense of pride in the work they do, being treated with fairness and respect, feeling appreciated and gaining a sense of accomplishment as the drivers that influence how happy and interested they are in their jobs. Our research also shows us how the happiness of employees changes over the course of their career within a company. For example, in the UK happiness starts high before decreasing, then peaks when employees have been in their roles between six and 10 years. In contrast, happiness amongst Dutch employees starts low but continues to rise and peaks once they’ve been in their roles for more than 11 years.

Levels of happiness may go through peaks and troughs but it is more than just a temporary emotion. Happiness is a deep feeling of satisfaction as a result of doing a great job. It can come from helping a colleague, receiving recognition for work or the opportunity to learn something new. It’s also a fundamental part of any staff retention strategy.

What drives happiness?

The drivers that influence employee happiness vary from country to country and depend on how long employees have been in their current role. In France, employee happiness in the first couple of years is driven by accomplishment, pride and a sense of work-life balance but as they become more tenured, it is driven by fairness and respect, pride and freedom. In Germany, employee happiness in the early years is driven by fairness and respect, good team management, pride and strong inter-team relationships, but after 10 years in a role, pride and feeling appreciated are much more important.

Managers should be aware of the drivers of happiness and how they can change over the course of a person’s career. It’s important to build a culture of fairness that makes employees feel like they are a good fit for their role and contributing to the success of an organisation over the long-term. It’s common knowledge that happy employees tend to be better employees; they are more loyal to the organisations they work for and actively contribute to the progress of the business.

So, what are the factors that drive happiness and influence how long your employees will stay throughout the course of their careers?

Offer skills development

Career goals don’t remain static so it’s important to regularly review employee’s performance. Look for opportunities to upskill existing employees by offering new training and development opportunities. Acknowledge where existing strengths lie and provide guidance on areas for improvement in the short-term. Also consider your employee’s long-term career aspirations and develop tailored training programmes that reflect personal ambitions.

For the majority of employees, education and training are two important pillars of workplace happiness that introduce greater variety into everyday roles and ensure employees are constantly being challenged to reach their potential. Create roles that offer opportunities to learn so employees get the opportunity to build on their strengths and continue to feel like they have the skills and training to remain a good fit for their role throughout their career with the company.

Provide meaningful work

Employees want to feel the time they spend at work has a purpose. For some people, this might mean gaining a sense of satisfaction from achieving their goals or helping people in their team to succeed. For others, it might mean having a genuine impact on those issues shaping society or influencing the direction of a company.

To ensure that employees feel their work has meaning, managers should create a values-driven culture that allows employees to align their personal beliefs with those of the company. Offer recognition and make it clear to employees how they are contributing to the success of the wider company.

Encourage teamwork and communication

Having open and honest communication is important to building strong relationships that are the foundation of a successful team. Strong team relationships encourage collaboration among the workforce and create an environment where individuals have a sense of responsibility and are prepared to go the extra mile.

To cultivate employee morale and foster good relationships, create opportunities where everyone has the freedom to make their voice heard and be themselves at work. This can be achieved through regular team meetings or teambuilding activities which allow everyone to provide their input so they feel engaged and part of a wider team.

The importance of happiness

For any business, finding employees that are a good fit for the company is important. As is holding onto them. Long-serving employees hold an in-depth understanding of the company, its services and culture that provide a sense of stability. They have also built-up an advanced skill set that others can learn from. More importantly, to the companies that offer appreciation and worthwhile work, they are loyal. However, there is a price to pay for loyalty.

Having employees that stay for the long-term tends to reflect that an organisation looks after its staff and that there are high levels of employee satisfaction within the company. You can almost guarantee that if employee happiness and engagement aren’t on the list of priorities, then employee retention won’t be either. To keep staff engaged, it’s imperative for organisations to look for opportunities to keep staff motivated, understand the drivers of happiness and how they change as careers progress.