The paper covers the whole concept of seniority in the work place from different perspective. To start with, the paper introduces and defines the term seniority where it is shown as the longevity of service that a person renders to an organization. The paper reviews the manner in which seniority affects the various decisions that the top management of the organization are reached. For instance, the top management considers employment decision with regard to seniority. In the paper, how vacations are given to the different employees in the organization is also analyzed and how training among other things are done. The paper also examines the different advantages that come with seniority for instance vacations and holiday times given to the employees. In addition to that the paper has looked into other advantages such as work place harmony among the different member of staff. We note that the harmony is ensured since nobody get promotions through orthodox means. The paper highlights different ways in which seniority in the work place may not work for the good of the organization. For example seniority will be a route for favoritism which will inhibit the smooth flow of activities of the organization.
Seniority in the Workplace
The time length that an individual has worked for an organization or severed in a job can best describe the term seniority. Seniority is therefore known to come with responsibilities as well as status and rank in the place of work. An employee who has served for a long time in an organization sets a precedent for other persons to come. Different organizations have different perspectives toward seniority (New Zealand Department of Labour, 2009). For instance some private sectors treat seniority with a lot of respect and therefore to them it is something very important. Other private sector professions union represented places of work and skilled trades have a similar opinion with regard to seniority. However, this is not the case with other sectors.
Organizations that are said to be forward thinking have no regard for seniority and as a result they put little or no preference for senior employees in the work place. The preference that is attached to a particular senior employee depends on a number of factors that are considered such as salary, layoff, promotions and other work places decisions. Therefore employees who have been working for an organization for the past 25 year will be considered more senior than an employee who has worked in the organization for 15year or ten years. Seniority therefore depends with the number of year that an individual has offered his or her services the organization (Zwick, 2009).
Seniority has a major drive in work places that are represented by unions. In the union seniority influence major decisions with regard to wages of the member of the union, workman hours, the time the workers should take their vacation, the merit to be used as the members of the union are being promoted, and how much the employees will receive for their overtime. In addition to that, seniority in these unions dictates the privileges that the employees will be enjoying, other benefit that the member of the staff shall enjoy their preferred work station among other issues (New Zealand Department of Labour, 2009). The seniority of the union have a hand in the formulation of the terms of work and other condition involved. This is also the case for thee workers who are skill trained and are represented by union.
The senior members have an added advantage when changes are effected in the work place. Take a situation where the organization wants to lay off some of its workers or certain job that the organization was offering is being eliminated. The senior employees are known to have bumping rights and therefore have chance of being reassigned other job that were formally done by junior members who are new or young in the organization (Zangelidis, 2004).
Other workplaces treat seniority from a different perspective where the senior employees in the organizations are considered. However, that does not mean that the organization has the responsibility of giving them a preferential treatment. In such organizations, it is the employer who have the sole responsibility of determining of seniority will have a hand in the decision making process of the organization. In such cases, the employer will make employment decisions and the degrees to which the decision will be influenced by seniority remain minimal and at time none.
Seniority may take a different dimension whereby an employee may stop working for a given organization for a given number of years. In a situation where the employee returns to the organization and continues to offer the services he or she was offering before, it is termed as a break in seniority or service break from the organization. The employer may take the situation as a special circumstance and to that extent they may restore the seniority of the employee. This is usually well explained in the employees hand book where the new members of the organization’s staff are being oriented to their duties (New Zealand Department of Labour, 2009).
Some organizations make their decisions with regard to seniority.
Seniority in the union shop is highly valued and protected. The senior members of the staff will automatically feature in the list of benefits due to the fact that they have served in the organisation for a long time. The first dibs with regard to trainings that will enable them move upward in the organization are first given to the senior members. This is not the case in non-union work places as seniority is just one of the aspects with regard to the opportunities that are given to the workers (Zwick, 2008). Right to attend workshops trainings, conferences and programme so that worker may get certifications are mostly based on performance. The person who works more than they are expected of them their seniority will earn them a place on the list to enable yourself attend paid education opportunities and training sessions.
When organizations are making employment decision, the decisions reached are in most cases influenced by seniority for instance in the union represented work places. However this does not apply to all the organizations as other employers have a choice to make on whether to factor in seniority or not. When the organizations are making decisions with regard to salary increase or promotions based on seniority, some other factors will have to be considered (Zangelidis, 2004). The organization will look into whether the senior members of staff fits well in the job posts and the kind of experience they have in their field of work. In addition to that, factors such as their contribution towards the development and the general welfare of the organization is also put into consideration and their general performance in their duties will also be evaluated.
After the evaluation is done, the senior employees who contribute effectively will be valued by the employer. The employees are rewarded for their historical experience and experience about the organization its customers and products and their loyalty. Seniority also plats a great role where the employers in the organization are planning to lay off workers. In the layoff decision, the employers engage the services of employment lawyers who advise the employer accordingly (Zwick, 2008). The lawyers recommend that the employer consider seniority as they make their decisions when lay off workers. In this case, the employees who are new in the organization and are less experienced on matters that relate to the organization are laid off first.
In other organizations that do not regard seniority when making employment decisions, they honor seniority in other ways. For example in their goal of engaging and retaining employees, the organization recognizes how long employees have rendered his or her services to organization. The employees are therefore rewarded with service awards, longevity recognition, mentoring opportunities, public preference where they are given an opportunity to share with others the history of the organization among other key assignments (Zangelidis, 2004). Organizations are advised that in making employment decisions, they should not only seniority in the work place as the only factor in making the decisions unless they are under obligation by some contracts.
In most of the organizations, the employers make decision on who is going to leave for their holidays and the vacation time based on seniority in the place of work. For instance in the health care organizations where the staff are required to offer their services even during the holidays, it means that the senior members of staff will not have to work all the holidays. On the other hand, the employees who are lower in the seniority ladder will be required to work even over the holidays until they cover up the senior’s time (Zwick, 2008).
When the members of staff in the organizations make their requests for vacations, the employers put seniority into consideration when granting vacation requests. The senior employees in the organization will have the opportunity to choose the vacation time considering the most appropriate time to them for the vacation for instance summer holiday season and end of year seasons. The members of staff who are not long-term employees get their vacation time granted after the seniors have chosen and in most of the cases they get their vacations when they are least beneficial to them for example in the middle of the year and winter holidays (Zangelidis, 2004).
Apart from choices, the senior members of the staff in organizations are given opportunities to choose from first. For instances, when there are new opportunities for relocation that the organization is offering, the senior member are notified first. Seniority is also factor in where members of staff in the work place are being given flexible schedule of work (Zwick, 2009). In case the organization have some new and attractive assignments, senior member of staff will enjoy the privilege of having access to such offers first before the other member of staff are made aware. In addition to that, when opportunities arise requiring some member of staff move up into management positions, senior member of the staff are the ones who are most likely to take up these positions. Seniority determines who enjoys what periods for vacations and who choices first before the offers are given to other members of the staff.
Where promotions done in the work place are done based on seniority, the worker tend to work in harmony. Workers are aware that they have to invest on time and service in the work place before they get to advance. The chances that the workers will recent when promotions are carried out are minimized since they already know that promotions take place based on seniority. Unlike the merit based system of promotion that attracts so many speculations and back stabbings. Seniority method of promotion does not give room for people to outshine one another to get promotions, or even try incompetent ways to capture the attention of the management to get promotion (Zwick, 2009).
There are work environment where the members of staff have different work shifts. It therefore occurs that the member of staff with greater seniority get the opportunity to select the work shifts that are most favourable to them. For instance in organisations that operate a 24 hour production process, the senior members of the staff will have the opportunity to select day time shift and the graveyard shifts are left for the members of staff who are low in the seniority hierarchy. When there are rotations of shifts in the place of work, it occurs that the members of staff who are senior have the opportunity to place their bid for the best times they prefer (Zwick, 2008). The other members of staff who are low in the order of seniority place their bid latter and for the time remaining in the shifts order. It also occurs that when the organizations and other places of work want to recognize the long- term employees the employees are rewarded using a schedule that they have chosen.
In most of the organization, seniority is a factor that is considered when it comes to leadership positions. When the top management want to delegate duties, one of the criteria that they use in determining who do what is seniority. For instance when plum assignment in the work place are to be assigned for instance training and orienting new members of staff on how the organizations carry out their duties seniority is the major factor that counts. In addition to that, if the organization wants team leaders they expect that the leaders be senior members of the organizations (Tony, Graham and Zoe, 2009). The reason behind this is that senior member of staff are adequately equipped with the organization modes of operation and procedures used in the work places.
This offers the human resource department and the various supervisors in the department with little work to do since they will narrow down and chose from the person senior among the members of staff. The seniority principle works on the assumption that the seniority among the member of staff relate to the level of proficiency among the members. Senior member of staff are said to have high level of proficiency compared to the new members of staff. This is because the senior employees know the routine and processes of the company as well as the unwritten rules and the expectations of the company (Zangelidis, 2004).
Perks refers to the little goodies that are given to different members of the staff and which not all the members of the staff are qualified for. The perks come as an addition to the pay increases. Where the organizations have trained a person the organizations strategy and culture, and the person continues to perform in the best way with the interest of the organization at heart, the person is greatly valued by the company (Zwick, 2008). The top management of the organization will find it very hard to train other people to have the same capacity. For the organization to keep the employees on board and happy, the employees are given perks as they continue rendering their services to the organization. The senior employees will enjoy perks from different fronts. The senior members of staffs are given ample parking spaces for their cars as compared to the new members of staff. The senior members may be given new phones that are supplied to the department by the management (Zangelidis, 2004).
However seniority in the work place has negative impacts on the operations of the organization. For instance, seniority is regarded as the bases of favoritism where the person who are senior in the organization are said to be favored more than the other workers. Promotional structures that are based on seniority discourage members of the staff as it is perceived as favoritism compared to other methods of promotion for instance promotion based on merit (Tony, Graham and Zoe, 2009).. The employees will have confidence in the manner promotion are effected since the possibility of new people joining the organization an leapfrogging past the other works to get the highest job will be reduced. The notion among members of staff that there is favoritism with regard to promotions is dealt with amicably.
Seniority in the work place does not motivate workers to work hard in order to increase productivity and get promotion. Organization that recognize personal efforts and rewards them motivate worker to do all that is in their capacity to gain promotion and as a result the productivity of the organization will increase (Zangelidis, 2004). For instance where the position of a sales manager are given to the sales person who perform best in sales, people will be motivated to give the best result and the organization will obtain extra revenues. Unlike where the position are given through the seniority mechanism which will motivate nobody.
Reward for ability
There are organizations that reward workers who have varying levels of abilities and skills. The workers who have the capacity to offer the organization the best to promote the operations of the organization even in the long run are rewarded. In others ability is not rewarded and the benefits go to the persons with the greatest experiences which does not always equate to more ability. Most of the organizations have the opinion that, members of the staff who have seniority does not necessary mean that they are the most productive compared to the other new workers (Tony, Graham and Zoe, 2009).
Seniority in the work place is both a good thing since it recognizes the efforts and the loyalty of the members of staff who have rendered their services to the organization. However, if seniority in the work place is not well handled, it may discourage workers from giving their best for the benefit of the organization. Seniority should be only a factor that should be put into consideration when giving privileges and promotion in the work place.
New Zealand Department of Labour. (2009) Seniority Pay, Promotions, and Older Job Seekers. Retrieved from http://www.dol.govt.nz/services/LMI/workforce2020/ageing/seniority/seniority.pdf
Tony, M., Graham, P, and Zoe, M. (2009) "Interpersonal influence in the workplace: influencing behaviour and 360-degree assessments", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 41 Iss: 5, pp.258 – 26. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=7&sid=68b842e8-8b4b-46fc-b0e7 b8fd44e8ffac%40sessionmgr110&hid=127&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ% d%3d#db=buh&AN=43797314
Zangelidis, A. (2004). Seniority Profiles in Unionized Workplaces: Do Unions Still have the edge? Centre for European Labour Market Research Working Paper No. 2004-09. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=731626
Zwick, T. (2008). The Employment Consequences of Seniority Wages. ZEW Discussion Paper 08-039, Mannheim
Zwick, T. (2009) Why pay Seniority Wages? Discussion Paper No. 09-005. Retrieved from http://www.econ.jku.at/members/Department/files/ResearchSeminar/SS09/zwick.pdf