As baby boomers move into retirement and millennials and Gen Zers stand poised to take over (and transform) the modern workforce, the idea of employee tenure — how long a worker stays with one organization — is becoming a top priority for business leaders. So much so, in fact, that it may seem like shrinking employee tenure is an unavoidable reality in today's ultra-competitive job market.

But by learning more about the current landscape and focusing on the relationship between employee engagement and tenure, there are definite paths forward to bucking the current employee tenure trends and keeping your seasoned workers on board.

where employee tenure stands

We’ve seen little or no reduction in median tenure for wage and salary workers over the past few years, but the big-picture numbers still aren't favorable for businesses:

hand with coins

The median tenure for all wage and salary workers remains 4.2 years.

people holding

Boomers aged 55-64 spend more than three times as long with an organization (10.1 years) as millennials aged 25-32 (2.8 years).


Twenty-two percent of workers have a tenure of one year or less with their current employer.

Given the value of long-term employees and their deep knowledge of their organizations and industries, it's easy to see why 32 percent of global talent acquisition leaders view employee tenure and turnover as a top priority right now. 

why employee tenure is important

Simply put, the longer an employee is working on the front lines of your business, the harder it is to replace their specialized skill set and industry knowledge. And in the age of digital transformation, seasoned employees — especially those in customer-facing or account-management roles — have their pulse on how your business has evolved and innovated throughout the years, and what that means for your client base.

But with time also comes the likelihood that your employees are becoming less engaged — or worse yet, actively disengaged. Maybe they've become passive or unclear about the value they add to the company, or they're still waiting for the recognition (and salary increase) discussed in last year's performance review. Taking an extra step back, reduced employee tenure may even signal a problem with your company culture as a whole. If that's the case, the problem can snowball over time now that online company reviews have become a popular candidate tool for vetting company culture and LinkedIn lets their premium users view average employee tenure statistics. 


in the age of digital transformation, seasoned employees have their pulse on how your business has evolved throughout the years.

Now that you're familiar with the lay of the land, here are five steps you can take to increase employee tenure — and engagement — today.


prioritize internal recruiting

Sometimes the easiest solution is right under your nose: A strong path to driving employee tenure is to offer workers a clear roadmap for internal advancement. But far too often, leadership focuses on new-hire recruitment, rather than internal hiring and transfers. So define and formalize an internal hiring strategy that offers advancement opportunities to those already providing value today. These numbers should convince you why:

Once the employee is settled in their new position, keep the communication flowing to make sure they continue to feel engaged and empowered to contribute their expertise every day.

internal advancement is a strong path to drive employee tenure


offer flexible work options

With 24 percent of employees working from home in some capacity — a number that jumps to 42 percent for those with advanced degrees — the days of thinking of flexible work options as only nice-to-have perks are long gone. In fact, there's been a 78 percent increase in job posts that mention "workplace flexibility" over the past three years. Employers have a range of options to offer, including: 

  • telecommuting/remote working
  • four-day workweeks
  • customizable work hours
  • flexible/generous vacation time

To keep your employees engaged and around for the long term, bring these options into the fold — especially when it comes to retaining millennial and Gen Z talent.

over the past three years, there's been a 78 percent increase in job posts that mention "workplace flexibility"


stoke the fire, not the burnout

No matter how much some people say they work best under pressure, no one produces their finest work when the demands never let up. So it should come as no surprise that a whopping 95 percent of HR leaders consider employee burnout the biggest foe when it comes to workplace retention. Even more, nearly half of those (46%) say that burnout is responsible for up to 50 percent of their annual workforce turnover.

To decrease burnout, think of how you can shift your strategy. For instance, rather than relying solely on a robust recruitment strategy, identify opportunities to make current employees' lives easier. These can include:

  • providing regular opportunities for employees to provide feedback (e.g., town halls, office hours)
  • offering in-house professional development events
  • investing in software or other digital tools that will improve internal processes
  • making sure all computers and other hardware are updated regularly and work optimally

employee burnout is considered the biggest foe when it comes to workplace retention


focus on your people

Employees will be more likely to stay on board when they're working alongside managers who show a vested interest in their career development. So go beyond thinking of the bottom line and learn about the ways your employees feel connected — or disconnected — from their roles. Pay particular attention to what they consider important about their work and what positive changes they'd like to see happen. Ensuring your employees feel empowered and that their voices are heard will always increase loyalty and interest in being a part of your company's future.

employee burnout is considered the biggest foe when it comes to workplace retention


approve that raise

A job well done demands recognition, both in terms of public acknowledgement and a salary increase. Not only should you be sure that your compensation offerings are aligned with competitors in your marketplace, you shouldn't shy away from recognizing employees with a raise — even when they're at the top of their budgeted salary range. Consider that the cost of turnover runs anywhere between 30 and 400 percent of an employee's annual salary (depending on the seniority of the position) to recruit, onboard and train someone new, and you'll quickly realize that a pay raise is a win-win for your employees and your bottom line.

To gain insights as to where your compensation should be to stay competitive in your industry and market, download our salary guide.

how staffing partners can help

No one understands the ways shrinking employee tenure affects your organization better than a staffing partner. And developing a relationship with one means more than gaining access to a network of top-tier talent — it's knowing that they're there to help you navigate the waters of today's rapidly changing job market.