Most of us grew up assuming we would know what we wanted to do when the time came, follow that path and gain the training and education that we needed, and realize our dream by working our career in our chosen profession until we retired. Although this may present a simplified view of the reality of previous generations, career planning of the past possessed a little more predictability than it does today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at a job for 4.4 years. However, the workforce’s youngest employees are projected to average closer to 2 years per job and work in multiple careers. As a result, workers need to have a flexible set of skills and broad experiences, if they wish to be competitive in a faster moving environment.
Although there are a variety of factors lowering the average time at an employer, key change is the rise of considerations of job fit. Clearly, employees have used the first six months or even more to assess the “fit” of a job in the past, but, now more than ever, employees make a determination more quickly and feel that a poor “fit” is a valid reason for changing jobs. A 2014 survey by HCS of 1,000 employees in five industries found that approximately 55 percent of new hires make a determination of fit in the first six months. The HSC results indicate that a decade ago the percentage was closer to 44 percent. In other words, a new hire is making his or her determination faster. Figure 1 captures the results from 2014.
Obviously, a variety of factors could be behind this difference: labor market, demographic, societal, or economic change. A few of the factors that appear to have impacted the results the most include: rise of a knowledge worker-centered economy, more readily available job information, greater employee concerns with working in a culture of engagement, more emphasis on work-life balance, and greater acceptance of moving between jobs. This last issue may be bigger than we realize. Over the last several decades, perceptions among employees and employees alike shifted on how we look at success. Previously, spending years with the same employer demonstrated stability, commitment, and implied performance. However, with the migration to a more transient model of workforce management, stay somewhere too long equates to a negative characteristic due to a lack of ambition and potential stagnation. In some ways, the solidarity among the perceptions and attitudes of employers changed. When competing for talent, one organizations loss becomes another’s gain.
What does a concern with fit and the decreased time for determination mean for us as employers?
• We need to have a culture that matches the type of employees we wish to recruit and retain.
• We need to customize our on-boarding to match the needs and expectations of our new employees.
• It is not enough to get them in the door. Each new day requires us to give our employees reasons to come back.