This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

June 2, 1999

Work Relationships Changing

213 days until January 1, 2000

We know that the concept of working for just one or two employers during our careers is gone. Extinct.

Rather than working continuously for the same employer for a long period of time, we'll have an ever-changing series of work experiences, interspersed with learning and personal downtime. Many of us will move between assignments or contracts of varying lengths with different employers or clients, punctuated by varying periods of "downtime" during which we will be job-hunting, upgrading our skills, concentrating on family responsibilities, or simply re-energizing ourselves.

A recent article in USA Today suggested that people are changing jobs an average of nine times before they're 32 years old. That's an average of a year and four months on each job, assuming immediate movement from one job to the next with no downtime in between. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor reports average tenure on a job of 4.6 years. As futurists, we've predicted a drop to 3.8, maybe 3.5 years. If the pattern suggested by the USA Today article were to hold true, that average tenure could be considerably lower.

Now, realistically, some people will change jobs that frequently for a variety of reasons, some of which will not be their own. Over their working lifetime, most people will stay with employers longer than 1.3 year average, keeping the overall average tenure higher. In our work on workforce stability, we've warned employers that to keep their good people, they'll have to work counter-trend. The social tendency will be to change jobs every 2-4 years.

We're sensing another trend. In the midst of all the turbulence and churning, we suspect there is an undercurrent of people who don't want to change jobs frequently^×if at all. They're consciously looking for job security; they want to stay with one employer for an extended length of time. These workers may form an important stable core within an organization. They'll need to be treated in ways that reinforce their decision and build their long-term capacity to serve.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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