Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson

Many organisations undergoing transformations run the risk of losing corporate wisdom and their "cultural soul" by failing to engage long-tenured employees in the process, says a leadership expert.

But employers can harness the agility that comes with the experience of long-tenured employees to ensure their future success in an era characterised by uncertainty, Mark Hodgson tells an HR Daily Premium webcast.

The "industrial age theory" that long-term employees who haven't been promoted into leadership positions are confined to a linear career progression is outdated, he says.

The reality is businesses are growing and dying much more quickly nowadays, and there aren't many "cradle-to-grave employers left", so organisations need agile employees to be successful.

"Businesses are searching for influential people who can lead us into this exciting, scary, ambiguous future, [and] make sense of the ambiguity. We value people who can communicate with brevity and elegance."

Organisations are searching for employees who can attract resources and sales, and project confidence and purpose, Hodgson adds.

"There is nothing about older workers that disqualifies them from any of those things, and in fact, arguably, because they've got greater experience... chances are there's a lot more wisdom and a lot more to them. They've got more stories to tell."

"We need to encourage them," he says. Activating the confidence of long-term employees "is a really good way of capturing the wisdom that exists within these people", as it heartens them to share their insights.

It's possible to move that cohort from being just long-term employees to "wise elders" whom others are drawn to for their knowledge and skills, which spurs a "power shift", Hodgson says.

"I think the raw materials for that exist within [them]. I think the DNA exists in many of those people, but for a lot of them, what we're talking about is 'how do we help them get that out there?'"

Hodgson says when identifying employees with the most potential to recommit and add more value to an organisation, HR professionals should prioritise those who are:

  • self-aware;
  • teachable;
  • open to feedback;
  • agitated;
  • energetic; and
  • curious.

The full webcast, accessible with HR Daily Premium membership, outlines how to identify those with the potential to recommit, engage them, and create the conditions for collaboration and success – upgrade here if you're not a premium member.