Leaving employment is a hotly contested subject at the moment. Some argue that longevity is no longer looked upon as a desirable quality.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed that the average time spent with the same employer was 4.2 years (at the time of asking). There are variations across age, occupation and gender, with employees aged 65 and over remaining in their job for an average of 10.3 years. For workers aged between 25 and 34, the number was just 3.2 years. So what course of action is best? Stay in one job for a long time, or swap regularly for different experiences?
For the HR professional, an employee would ideally stay within the company for a long period of time. The lengthy recruitment process is not something that many would like to repeat too often! Employers will approach the subject differently to an employee and both will have different objectives and things they will want to gain from the relationship.
If a company is looking to retain their employees for a long time, they must look at what would make a person want to move to a different job in the first place. Then they can take steps to make the workplace an environment where people to want to stay. Aside from measurable factors, such as pay and working hours, reasons for employees to want to move on could include:
- Feeling unfulfilled and unchallenged
- Lack of career prospects
- Poor job flexibility
- More tempting working conditions elsewhere
There is the danger that by employing a person in the same role for a long period of time, you could be hindering their future career and also the productivity of your workplace. So while it may appear beneficial to fill a workplace with long term employees, it could be good to change things around to keep levels of engagement high among staff.
Employee's point of view
Forbes, on the other hand, has produced a list of 10 reasons why an employee should stay at an organisation for 10 or more years. The main reasons seem to be “Seniority”, “Stability”, “Increased Benefits” and “Self-Improvement”. Seniority refers to the progression within a company and the value that employee has to the business through knowledge and experience.
Stability is less about working life, and more personal life. A stable work life brings steady income and allows for a person to set up a home for themselves. Many companies reward their long serving employees with increased benefits packages or increased salaries. Self-improvement is in reference to the confidence and experience gained by working in the same organisation for a long period of time.
While in an ideal world people would make job decisions based on their fulfilment in their role, the truth is that money is a big factor. Some find themselves staying in a job that they don't enjoy because it is providing them with a good salary and benefits package. On the other hand, some may change their job after being offered an attractive looking pay packet elsewhere, with little thought to any non-monetary gains still to be made in their current employment.
The flip side to longevity for employees
This longevity could work against an employee should they decide they want to move on from a company. What could be seen as stability and reliability to one employer may not be looked upon as favourably to another. There may be doubts about the person’s ability to adapt and cope with new environments and challenges. There is no guarantee that the person would be comfortable with change.
The key thing for an employee to do is remain focused on their reasons for being in the job. If they are aiming to build up skills and a portfolio over a number of years, then staying in a job for a long time is perfectly acceptable. If the reason is lack of motivation to find work elsewhere, or to chalk up the numbers for a CV, it is almost certainly time to move on. A “job hopper” that changes jobs every few years or months may also be looked on negatively, as there are many assumptions that might be made about the individual’s ability to hold down a job.
Everybody’s circumstances are different, but the important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t remain in a job for the sake of it. Consider the options, and do what is right for yourself.
Written by Fiona Sanderson
Fiona is Marketing Manager at myhrtoolkit. Her areas of expertise include HR systems, productivity, employment law updates, and creating HR infographics.