Seniority means that you’ve been at the job longer than most of your peers. It’s the ranking given to employees based on length of service and often is the marker by which promotions are measured. If your company has formal policies regarding seniority, you’ll likely be the first in line for perks as they arise. Even without any kind of formal policy regarding seniority, you might still be the one to reap the benefits due your status as an experienced employee.
As the ranking member of your team, you’ll usually be afforded the right to choose your vacation days before anyone else. Seniority often gives you the privilege of choosing the choice days off when you work for a company that’s open on holidays and weekends, such as those that operate in a retail environment. You might also be given first choice for new assignments, flexible working schedules and relocation opportunities. You’re usually given the choice to move up into management when openings occur as well.
In union shops, your seniority is protected and valued. You’re automatically on the top of most benefits lists just by being there longer than most. You’re given the first dibs at new training programs so you can move up in the company. At non-union workplaces, seniority is only one aspect of the level of opportunities you’re given. You might have to earn the right to go to workshops, conferences and certification programs through your performance. If you’re producing at or above the level expected of you, then your seniority will likely put you first on the list to attend coveted training sessions and paid educational opportunities.
Last to Go
Whether there are formal policies in place or not, it’s usually the last hired who is the first fired or laid off when the economy turns sour or your company undergoes some belt-tightening. Seniority and your loyalty to the company are rewarded in these cases, especially when you continue to produce sufficiently. Even if you are swept up in a layoff or reduction in force, you’ll be among the first called back in most circumstances.
When you’ve spent years learning the company culture and strategy, and continue to perform well for the business, you become a valued employee. Training someone to take your place can put quite a strain on your bosses. So to keep you happy, and on board, you will be offered perks the longer you stay. You might be offered the corner office or the cubicle closest to the windows, a prime parking space or the newest company cell phone. Perks are those extra little goodies that are not available for everyone. They should come on top of pay increases, health care benefits and promotions and are considered rewards for sticking it out.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."