The onslaught of Linkedin recruiters, changing norms with the younger generation (Of which I am a proud member), and a hundred other factors have had their toll, and as a consequence the average tenure of an employee has decreased to as little as 1 year in highly technical companies.
Even if internal recruiters can fill roles as fast as they open, companies are still challenged with retaining the corporate knowledge, building culture, and meeting goals – all of which is rendered more difficult by frequent turnover.
For some skill sets, the true cost of talent is much higher than the going rate, and the market is tripping over itself to correct that delta. Software engineers, for example, know that if they have been in a position for more than 6 months, they are probably being underpaid.
So where does this lead, and how does someone position themselves to take full advantage of the trend? Here are a few ideas:
- Use turnover to spread your network – People who leave your company on good terms are likely to buy from or recommend your company. Your colleagues may become your customers.
- Avoid single point of failure – The genius developer who saved the company by writing a 6 month application in 6 weeks (while skipping documentation), will one day leave, and you’ll be pumping him for information at his going away party. It’s fine to have a core group of employees but develop processes for sharing their knowledge.
- Think hard about build or buy – Do we have the talent in house to deliver this well, and more importantly, when that talent leaves, can we recruit it again?
- Review compensation every quarter by comparing against the market; Annual raises for performance are inadequate. You developer’s next employer doesn’t care if he was 2 weeks late on a project; they’ll give him the raise anyway.
- Pay employees an annual bonus equivalent to half the cost of refilling their position (usually 50% of their salary).
- Change your business model to use fewer salaried employees