In the days of a bygone era, before modern-day conveniences like online meal delivery and Netflix binge-fests existed, careers looked different. Your parents or grandparents may have learned a trade, graduated college, or left military service expecting to have a long career with a single employer. And at the end of working thirty-something years, they’d be symbolically rewarded with something like a gold watch, honoring a lifelong commitment to steady employment. After all, the benefits to both parties were enormous: companies could count on a steady long-term labor force, and employees would enjoy a lifetime of predictable income, benefits, and employment.

This, of course, is not the picture of employment today. Decades of societal and technological transformations have upended the very notion of a steady job.

How long do today’s employees stay at a job?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure of workers aged 55 to 64 is 10.1 years, while the median tenure of workers ages 25 to 34 is 2.8 years. And shorter tenures are here to stay: according to the 2019 Yello Recruiting Study, Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) plans to move on from their first jobs in three years or less, and only one in four plan to work for an employer for five years or more.

Compared to older generations, the expectations for millennial and Generation Z workers to hold down a long tenure at a single employer offer a stark contrast. These employees expect to remain in a role for less than half of the amount of time as their older cohorts.

How will shorter employee tenures impact your company?

Considering millennials and Gen Z make up 40% of the current workforce, these shifts in career expectations are already having a major impact on employment operations and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And the cost to your company might be higher than you think: according to a study by the Center for American Progress, the cost of losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary to 213% for highly trained positions. In other words, if an employee is making $120,000 a year, the loss could be up to $255,600 for your company!

The only way to combat the potential rapid loss of millennial and Gen Z employees is for recruitment teams to stay active. Relying on outdated recruitment strategies that don’t account for higher turnover means companies may be shooting themselves in the foot, building long-term strategies that don’t account for the preferences of today’s workforce. Even so, fewer than one in four HR professionals surveyed have changed their recruiting strategies to reflect this new reality.

How to build a recruiting strategy that accounts for shorter tenures

There are several actionable tactics you can take to ensure you’re attracting the right candidates, building a strong employer brand, and beating the competition when it comes time to make an offer.

Maintain an active talent community

Adjusting your recruitment strategy to reflect shorter tenures requires attracting talent for a wide range of sources, ensuring talent pools for all positions remain primed and engaged. For example, silver medalists who come within striking distance of landing a role could end up being your saving grace when your first choice decides to accept another offer.  Be proactive by using all of the tools at your disposal, like talent communities, position-specific talent pipelines, and candidate relationship management software to foster relationships with candidates throughout their career journey.

Demonstrate employee impact to the company

While millennials and Gen Z both prioritize salary and work-life balance as the most important factors when considering a new job, Gen Z places increased value on job duties. These candidates want to know that their work will be meaningful, so make sure your job descriptions reflect the impact your open roles will have on the company. You might even consider including a 30/60/90 day plan in your job posting to outline actionable first steps a candidate will be able to take once they’re hired.

Meaningful Work is More Important than Growth

Gen ZMillennials
1. Salary1. Salary
2. Work-Life Balance2. Work-Life Balance
3. Job Duties & Projects3. Career Growth Opportunities

Focus on benefits that matter

Of course, while you’re adjusting your current recruitment strategy, don’t forget to implement the perks and preferences modern workers have come to expect, like flexible schedules, remote work options, and quality health benefits. While the ping pong table and free lunch might earn you a few free headlines, meaningful benefits that improve work-life balance will make all the difference when it comes to increasing employee retention.

Decrease your time to hire

Because you’ll inevitably be hiring more over the long-term, it’s more important than ever to reduce the cost of recruitment. A shorter time to hire, for instance, can make it less expensive to bring on new employees while simultaneously providing a better candidate experience. Running a streamlined interview process that asks the right questions and identifies potential red flags can ensure you don’t make bad hires in the first place, preventing you from continually returning to the drawing board.

There’s no way to predict which employees will end up earning a gold watch after three decades of service, and even the best hiring questions can’t prepare an employer for a great worker who prematurely heads for the exit due to circumstances out of your control. But by proactively mitigating the risk of an unexpectedly open critical position, you’ll ensure your business isn’t caught flat-footed when it’s time to find a quality replacement.