Job Seeker Journey Part 4: How Long Do Australians Stay at a Job Before Moving On?

Three coworkers chatting in an open office

Welcome to the final segment of Indeed’s Job Seeker Journey series! Every month for the last three months, we’ve explored the journey of the average job seeker—discussing reasons why Australians look for a new job, where they search for jobs and the average time it takes to find one. This month, we’ll examine how long Australians stay at a job, and what companies can do to help retain new hires and current employees.

In today’s labour market, staying at the same job or even company for many years is rare. With more tools than ever before to find them, Australians expect to switch jobs, careers and even industries multiple times during their lifetime. In fact, 52%1 of job seekers find it important or extremely important to always be aware of new job opportunities, regardless of their current employment status. But, while switching jobs more often is becoming the norm, how long do employees stay at a job before moving on to a new opportunity?

How long does the average Australian stay at a job?

When asked how long they had been in their current position, 48% of Australians surveyed said they have been in the role for less than two years—and almost a quarter, 21%, have been in their role for less than a year. While people aren’t staying in the same job for a lifetime, a good portion are sticking around for a few years. In fact, 22% reported being in their current position for 3-4 years, and 21% for 5-10 years. Though it appears the once commonplace trend of sticking around for long service leave are well and truly over. When asked if they had been in their position for more than 10 years, only 10% said that they had.

48% of employees have been at their role less than 2 years; 22% 3-4 years; 21% 5-10 years; 10% 10 or more years

With 21% of employees in their current job for less than a year, this could be indicative of the Australian workforce moving towards short-term work. While job hopping can lead to faster career progression and sometimes a pay increase for employees, it can also be beneficial to employers. Job hoppers often have a broad range of skills and the ability to adapt to new working environments and ways of doing things.

However, despite the above-mentioned benefits of changing jobs more frequently, they are not the main reason Australians leave a job after a short period. In fact, 40%2 of employees cited an unhappy workplace and 39% cited the job not living up to their expectations as the top reasons why they left their job after a short time.

40% of employees who left because of an unhappy workplace; 39% left because the job didn't meet their expectations

What motivates Australians to stay at a job?

Despite the commonality of job hopping, there are many reasons why Australians decide to stick around. While we discovered that money was a strong motivator for job seekers looking for a new job, only 11%3 cited pay as the reason they decided to stay at their current position. In fact, when asked the number one reason they wanted to remain at their job, 25% claimed it was because they enjoyed their role and 17% claimed it was because they have a good relationship with their colleagues. As a result, an employee’s role and social environment at work can play a huge part in motivating Australians to stay at a job.

25% of employees stayed because they enjoyed their role; 17% stayed due to good relationships with colleagues

What can employers do to help retain employees?

While a good salary package can help get job seekers through the door, it’s not always what motivates them to stay at a job. Given that 40%2 of employees leave a new role after a short period because they were unhappy at work, and 39% left because it didn’t meet their expectations, it’s beneficial for employers to focus on other factors aside from remuneration.

For example, when advertising a new role, ensure the job description accurately describes what it will be like to help set expectations with candidates if they do get the job. During the interview process, reiterate what their duties and everyday activities will be, and give examples of the kind of work they will be doing so candidates have a good idea of whether the job is a right fit or not. It may also be beneficial to use an experiential interview approach to ensure the candidate is the right fit for the position and the team.

Once you have found the right candidate and made an offer, it’s important to ensure they are integrating well into the team and organisation. Given that 78% of employees spend more time with coworkers than family, the relationships employees form with their colleagues can be pivotal in keeping them motivated. As a result, you can take measures to ensure employees are having healthy and positive social relationships in the workplace. For example, studies show that implementing a “buddy system” during the onboarding process can be instrumental to integrating employees into the social environment of the workplace and helping them stay at a job long term.

Keen to know more? Download Job Hunters: The Complete Guide to read the full report.


1 This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed among 1,000 Australian job seekers between June and July 2016.

2 This research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 1,006 Australian job seekers between July and August 2018.

3This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed among 500 Australian job seekers between June and July 2016.

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