How long do people stay in their jobs? What are the causes of and the risks of not managing staff-turnover?

September 14, 2023

Job vacancies maintain their historical highs and the inflation crisis ensnares both employers and employees. Thus, one of the many questions raised is just how long are employees staying in their jobs?

We researched the LinkedIn pages of 772 London Stock Exchange firms for the median tenures of their staff.

Our results suggest that the median employee will switch jobs every 3.8 years.

Roughly equal proportions of people will leave in the years immediately before and shortly after the median: 54% of people stay for 3-6 years.

Unsurprisingly, shorter stays are rarer. 20% of people stay for 1-2 years and only 2% for under a year.

As tenures increase, the number of staff holding said tenures decreases from five-years onwards with the peak and median bracket being 3-4 years:

It should be noted that our results are limited to an analysis of data collected from listed firms. We did not sample private firms. Further, our results show only median tenures of these companies: a study of medians like this may not fully represent outliers.

Why do people change jobs? Ipsos Mori found that over half of unhappy workers cited pay as the cause of their dissatisfaction. Many may feel that loyalty doesn’t pay, particularly in light of the cost of living crisis. Perhaps with good reason: data from the ONS suggest skilled job-changers grow their earnings 3-7% faster than those who stayed.

This is no trifling risk for employers, especially in light of the high number of job vacancies. The cost of turnover is not only in the recruiter’s fees, but in lost productivity, replacement training costs, and the time and expense of interviewing. Worse are the intangible effects there may be on culture, trust, and the loss of specific knowledge and skills. Today’s savings are tomorrow’s costs. A range of 2017-2023 studies link staff turnover to reduced product and service quality in various industries and countries. In 2019 Culture Amp estimated that turnover costs 30-200% of salary; roughly in line with estimates by Work Institute and Oxford Economics.

Though pay is certainly not the only factor at play here. Ipsos Mori also found that other top sources of dissatisfaction include the relationship with the manager, workload, culture, and interest in the work. We explored these factors more in this article.

Talent is as crucial to a company as blood is to a body. To retain it, employers must be proactive, perceptive, and long-term thinkers. Firms which neglect this may find their office floors eerily silent.

MM&K has decades of experience consulting with firms of all forms and sizes on retention and reward strategies. For citations, or further information on this article and how MM&K can help you, please contact James Sharp.

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