David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott | 2:00 PM October 18, 2012
As of January 2012, the median time that wage and salary workers in the U.S. had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years. Other recent data points are equally disturbing: The staffing company Randstad says that 40% of employees are planning to look for a new job within the next six months. Another survey notes that 69% of employees are already at least passively shopping for new job opportunities via social media today.
Clearly, statistics show the majority of employees at every level are unhappy enough in their current positions to be actively or at least passively considering new jobs.
As business owners, we have big incentives to do all we can to keep our talented people around. But beyond our own motives, we think it's often good for employees to stick around, too. Here are the 10 reasons why we think executives and employees need to think carefully before making a jump:
1. Seniority: Executives who remain at a single company are able to rise in seniority, rather than having to compete for a stronger role at each new company as they go.
2. Leadership Opportunities: With seniority comes the chance to lead others and mentor newcomers through the transition to their new jobs. Executives who build loyal followings are naturally upheld by their teams, rather than having to defend the authority they've been given in a new firm by decree.
3. Stability: If executives are perpetually moving, it's difficult to make long-term plans. A little stability in career and workplace can help them cope more effectively with the stresses that are sure to occur within the rest of their lives.
4. Homeownership and retirement funds: Job hoppers pay a high price in home equity and retirement accounts. Every job change that requires a move will also enact a high transaction cost to change homes, which is never ideal outside of chosen opportunities to move to a more suitable home. Stability is also appealing to banks--lenders look more favorably on prospective borrowers who've held consistent jobs for a minimum of two years, and preferably more. Vesting in 401K and stock option programs is generally badly affected by hops. So while executives think they may gain an advantage by jumping for a sign-on bonus or raise, in the long term, the employees who maximize vesting schedules and maintain their retirement accounts will likely excel.
5. Increased Benefits: Many companies increase paid time off for employees who stay at a job for a certain number of years. Executives who stay can spend more time with their families and achieve more lifestyle goals with the extra time off and the extra stock and retirement savings long-term employment affords.
6. Self-Improvement: Executives who show the resilience to address their weaknesses rather than jumping ship and blaming their discontent on former co-workers and bosses may often be further ahead.
7. Dependability: An executive who is willing to stay the course for 10 or more years (which is typical in Japan and other European countries) demonstrates a level of dependability that companies will generally reward and respect.
8. Flexibility: Most people who stay at a company for a decade or more progress through multiple increasingly challenging roles while they're there. They typically try their hands at a variety of roles to help determine what they're most passionate about. The difference between moving within a company and moving between companies is that executives are able to retain their status and benefits while also being free to experiment and try some new things.
9. Perseverance: It's easy to quit over perceived unfairness or serious challenges. But it shows much stronger character to persevere, to find and enact solutions to problems, repair damage, and to take an active role in turning a situation around. (However, anyone who works in a genuinely toxic corporate environment should absolutely take their leave, as quickly as possible, and move on.)
10. A Say in the Company's Future: An executive can have a positive influence on their company's direction if they're willing to stick with the organization through good times and bad.
This is true for our company, and it's especially true for the opportunity we're beginning right now. Our team had a very direct role in buying ownership of our company back from a former investor in May of 2010. We're in the process right now of granting stock options to nearly half of our employees, and many more will receive shares within the coming six months. Now the employees and management own the company. Stock option ownership is based on behaviors that align with our 7 Non Negotiable principles, which you've heard us mention before.
In essence, we're creating opportunity for our employees to engage as entrepreneurs at every level of the company, without the risks or the drawbacks of founding a startup firm on their own.
We're working hard to give our employees good reason to stay with our company for the very long term, if not for life. We hope and believe we're far from alone. But regardless, given the many solid reasons for staying the course in a single company, shouldn't you take a second look at staying put in your own current job?