Long stayers: Part of the furniture or the fabric of an organisation?

One of our experienced Reward recruiters’, Leigh David, discusses the value of long stayers.

How do you describe your long staying employees?

“They are part of the furniture”

Every so often, when discussing someone’s career timeline or hiring needs, this phrase is used and I am often stumped as to what impression this gives of a person.

A definition of the phrase is: “a person or thing that has been somewhere so long as to seem a permanent, unquestioned, or invisible feature of the landscape.”

As an employer – are you looking for your staff to be unquestioned and go unnoticed?

While in the past, changing jobs is considered to be a sign of a lack of loyalty and conscientiousness. These days, staying too long at a company can also be detrimental to your career, as you’re labelled as ‘part of the furniture’. Although the phrase seems to be a compliment, as if you are a permanent fixture in the organisation, it could also suggest that someone is inactive and non-instrumental. It paints a picture of a person who sits, collects dust, unused, adding very little value and is unable to adapt to change. If you remove said furniture, say the person leaves or even retires, you’ll be left with an imprint on the floor where they once were. However, this can be easily replaced by a new piece of furniture on top, to sit and collect dust once again.


Frequent job hopping shouldn’t be necessary to advance your career

Gone are the days when people work for a company all their lives, organisations are looking for people that will make a difference and thrive – not just simply do their job. The common advice I hear is that it is probably wise to change jobs every 2 – 3 years and there are plenty of reasons to do so. A higher salary, promotion, building a stronger network and learning new skills, are among a few. But aren’t these the things that every organisation boasts they offer during interviews? Shouldn’t businesses be offering their employees these opportunities anyway, if they’re good at what they do?


value of long stayers

Are you looking for a ‘lifer’ when you hire? Or are you simply looking for a permanent employee for the next two years?

There are so many reasons to want to retain staff for a long as possible:

  • Longer staying employees increase retention – which also shows potential employees that the current workforce is happy
  • Constantly hiring people and changing the dynamic in the office interrupts productivity, as it takes time for people to adjust
  • Employees that stay longer will have a better understanding of your business needs, as well as greater knowledge of the industry as it changes naturally over time
  • Reducing hiring costs – as hiring new employees costs time and money

It’s important and more profitable to keep talented and hardworking people around. I encourage employers to utilise their ‘long stayers’ and to treat their loyal employees as fabric, not furniture.


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