Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Average Time Spent on the Job

The days of being a loyal, hard working blue collar man are long gone in the United States. With increasing wealth, rich parents for the rich kids, and the bevy of government programs for the poor kids, it's kind of hard to tolerate the pointy haired boss that seemingly every employer is hell bent on becoming. Thus, telling your boss to take this job and shove it is more common. However, I was surprised to see just how much longer people stay on the job in Europe than do their American cousins;

That being said, I'm surprised the average work length in the US is as high as 4 years. I would have guessed 2.


Kasia said...

Does that factor in employer-initiated separations like layoffs and firings? What about transfers within one company, whether they're employee or employer initiated?

I'm just wondering whether this chart says more about the average worker or the overall work climate.

Anonymous said...

It's "K√ľndigungsschutz vs Amerikanische Verh√§ltnisse" again...

It shows how sick the European economies are. Average tenure is longer than any economic growth cycle, meaning that the employer cannot fire anybody when the economy is hit by a recession.

And when growth comes back and business is running good, he will not hire anybody because he's afraid that he cannot get rid of his employees when recession strikes again.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking a cause/effect is questionable here. In Europe, there is less of an advantage for change. Company benefits, pay scales, wages, etc. are more at par.

In addition, the US has full employment. Having less than full employment is a definite reason to stick with a current employer.

I enjoy your blog!!

Anonymous said...

It is too bad we didn't have some numbers for Asia as I would like to see how that would have changed the chart...

Anonymous said...

You cannot directly compare European with Amercian labour market figures. Germany, France, Italy, they all haven't seen unemployment drop below 8 percent since the 1980s. Therefore, today's unemployment of 8 percent (in Germany) can be seen as near full employment under the specific circumstances in that country. You shouldn't forget that at least half of all unemployed persons will never work again, at least not in the next 5-10 years.

Furthermore, the typical German employee is totally immobile, and I assume this is similar in France, Italy, etc. Numerous studies (in comparison to the US) have proven this (not to mention my own experience). It's like in Japan, where you used to get life-time employement. They don't want to change, even if they had the opportunity to do so.

Anonymous said...

"Therefore, today's unemployment of 8 percent (in Germany) can be seen as near full employment under the specific circumstances in that country."

I read that and see, "We should lower our expectations because Germany sucks."

Persistent stupid policies do not justify redefining what constitutes "full employment", in my opinion. I tend to think of "full employment" in terms of a natural rate of unemployment due to people choosing to look for new jobs or losing their jobs as part of a process of creative destruction, rather than including people who are unemployable simply because their government is stupid.

Anonymous said...


You're absolutely right. It was not my intention to defend Germany's labour market. As an answer to what Anon said, I wanted to point out that structural differences that influence the choices and preferences of employees.

Anonymous said...

I don't think standard statistics tell a relevant story. If ten people spend one year at a job and one more person spends twenty years at a job, the average of all eleven people tells you that people spend about three years at a job, which is not true.

I suggest the book "The Black Swan"? I think it will explain it better.

Sharna & Bryant said...

I was pointed to this blog by a friend, a CFO, that was just laid off as I am researching for a article that I want to write here in the U.S. I have already queried my network that have watched my career path in technology services take many turns over the years. Based on input from many colleagues and friends, it seems that I am able to land on my feet more often than most when I have been laid off or otherwise downsized out of a job.

I am thinking that my ability to stay ‘serially’ employed while others are struggling to do so is something worth distilling for the benefit of others. So, I am researching data for an article or possible book that I want to write.

The basic premise that I want to build on is that most recruiters and HR managers are not in synch with the tumultuous job market that has been a reality in the U.S. technology and services sector over the last 10 years. As such, I am finding that the job hunter is discriminated against, in most part, for lack of job longevity, regardless of the underlying reason.

I want to collect experiences from both the job seeker and hiring managers (HR, Recruiters, executives) to identify and understand the delta between the hiring side expectations on job history for a candidate and the reality of the job history on the resumes of many job seekers in today’s marketplace. I know that many opportunities were out of my reach because I could not point to a job history of being with one company for multiple years even though I was richly qualified to handle the role. HOwever, something I did allowed me ultimately be hired again in short order for many other jobs.

Your input on your experience is greatly appreciated and will be kept anonymous. I will ask your permission to identify you as a source of the story if need be and may also reach out to you for additional details. Let me know how to reach you, if you are willing to talk further.