Is Employee Tenure Overrated?

I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees “today” don’t care about staying at a company long term.

Tim you just don’t get it. The younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.”

You’re right! I don’t get it.

Payscale recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting at 3.68 years, which speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long term employment with one organization.

3 things to remember about long tenured employees

Here’s what I know about long tenured individuals:

  1. People who stay long term with a company tend to make more money over their career.
  2. People who stay long term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.
  3. People who tend to stay long term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.

I don’t have a survey on this. I do have 20 years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this first hand.

The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee, over an unknown from the outside.

Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.

Retaining workers is hard

I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations. I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is not realistic in today’s world.

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Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees.

Retention is hard work. It has real, lasting impact to the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure outperform those organizations with lower tenure. (You can find them herehere, and here.)

Employee tenure is important and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization.If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that its just “kids” today, that we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice.

You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the No. 1, 2 and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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