It’s no secret that the tech industry experiences faster turnover than almost any other industry, which is especially surprising given these generally are jobs with good pay, tons of benefits and lots of freedom. Previous research has found that many tech companies rarely have a median tenure of greater than 2 years, nowhere near the Department of Labor’s median of 4.7 years. While tech companies do trend younger, they are even way below the median for their age group which should be around 3 years. It’s worth noting that all of these companies are innovative, successful organizations that do not appear to be suffering greatly at having such a fast turnover.
We figured the best way to calculate these tenures would be to take a large sampling of Linkedin job profiles and include only those who had a full-term of employment that has ended. That way we could best figure out the true median of tenure of Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and eBay. Our results are based off a sample size of 50,000 real people who worked and no longer work for one of the companies below. Multiple positions were combined into a single tenure and those currently working were not counted but you’ll also find those results below. Here’s what we found for average tenure length:
Facebook came in lowest at barely under a year. The positions most likely to leave were those working for global marketing solutions, account managers, user operations, community operations and recruiting managers. But Facebook is one of the highest paid, lowest stress and all around coolest places in the world to work at, so why the short tenure? The reason is two fold, first Facebook had the absolute highest amount of interns showing up. For those who have left, 26% were interns. We also pulled a sample of those still working at Facebook and found 25% of them showed intern in their title. Even removing the interns Facebook only goes up to a median tenure length of 17 months. Secondly, Facebook is the newest of the companies on the list, it really took off in 2007 and has been doubling their headcount almost every two years. So unlike places like Microsoft and Apple that have been around for a long while, there aren’t many long-timers to skew it upwards.
Google is also known as one of the dream jobs for many, great benefits, wonderful work spaces and glorious free food. Even so Google also has a low tenure length. Like Facebook their intern rate is fairly high with 18% of the sample consisting of interns. The job positions leaking the most out of their campus was quality evaluators, visual data specialists, project & product managers, product marketers and technical recruiters.
Amazon is a bit of a different company than the others since it also embodies traditional warehousing and retail operations. They have many customer service agents and those involved in procurement. Their intern rate was 11% and the most likely to leave in a short period of time were customer service employees, product managers and software development engineers.
Apple has some real long-timers but also a median that is shorter than the US average. Only a small amount of data contained retail operation workers and their intern rate made up only 5% of the total. The worst performing jobs were customer centric: technical support, specialists and support advisers and program managers.
eBay has less of the extravagant perks as their tech rivals but has one of the higher tenure lengths. 10% of tenure data points were from interns. The jobs most likely to leave were project manager, business development positions, software engineers, customer service representatives and account managers.
The weakest link for Yahoo were account managers and they had an intern rate nearly half of Google’s at 8.9%.
Microsoft has been around for a long time and employs over 100,000 people. The jobs with the shortest tenure were software development engineers, software engineers, marketing managers, product managers, program managers and account managers.
We also found that the current median continuing employment length of Facebook was 17 months, 24 months for Google, 24 months for Amazon, 30 months for Apple, 33 months for eBay, 36 months for Yahoo and 48 for Microsoft.
All of these employers provide competitive pay, here’s a comparison based on data from Payscale. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are all quite similar, while Amazon is slightly less (however it’s worth noting this is not true of their software engineers being paid less but the median pay being lower because Amazon also employees many fulfillment workers). Facebook appears on average to pay higher for software engineers and of course is just as well coveted as a dream job for many.
But we all know that if you’re already making the going rate that more pay has been shown by many studies to have little effect, while things like personal development, a sense of freedom/flexibility and other tangible benefits have a much greater effect. Microsoft offers a full host of expected benefits but also some generous educational reimbursement, stock discounts and 17 paid days off per year. Google is of course famous for being one of the first to offer free food, snacks and drinks for its employees but it has other perks like a death benefit that continues to pay salary out to a spouse for up to 10 years and also a very generous paternity leave that even covers dads. Other popular perks include free work shuttles, health classes and amazing offices. Yahoo also has many of these benefits: a generous maternity leave, tons of free food and generous 401k matching.
Amazon doesn’t quite compete with the tech giants in perks like free food or yoga classes but does offer generous opportunities for stock and a competitive salary. eBay also doesn’t quite compete with the free lunches and offerings but offers occasional food, outings, a good 401K match and generous paternity and maternity leave. The time off can also be good for those who have been around for a while: 15 days vacation plus one extra day for every year you’ve worked there, after five years you get a whole paid month off on top of the 20 days vacation you’d be earning annually by then. Facebook provides tons of free food options, 4 months paid maternity/paternity leave, free health insurance and many other benefits to cover just about anything. In fact those that work at Facebook commonly report there is really nothing else they could possibly ask for. Apple is known to provide a challenging work environment but serious benefits to match, tons of internal training and opportunity for advancement as well as educational reimbursement.
Gallup and others have also shown that being able to hold onto key talent basically boils down to whether you have a good manager: someone who supports you, lets you know exactly what is expected of you, gives you recognition and is personally connected to you. Up to 60% of people have reported leaving a job just to get a way from a bad manager and many more have left because they lacked a truly good one. Another factor is that tenure is much lower for younger people so it’s possible that having a lower tenure length is not necessarily a bad thing since some of these companies having a median age in the 20s and the energy young people bring is part of what keeps many of them innovative. At the same time, it can also be indicative of management issues, an inability to be competitive with other offerings (poaching) and lost opportunity to hold onto high-performing talent. When employees do leave they don’t go very far, our research shows that Facebook is the number one single place that Google employees are leaving towards and Google is the number one for Facebook employees.