Employee engagement

2021 Retention Stats & How Often People Do Change Jobs

A deep dive into retention stats and how often people change jobs. It's not all bad news for the businesses that have alumni programs.

How often do people change jobs in 2021? The short answer to this question is a lot. The slightly longer answer to this question is – a lot, but this is not necessarily bad for your business.

In this article, we’ll share an overview of the latest employee retention stats in the United States. Then, we’ll also look at a new take on retention and why innovative companies are keeping top talent in the loop beyond the dreaded exit interview.

Important U.S. Retention Stats To Take Note Of In 2021 and Beyond

Recent U.S. employment statistics paint a very telling picture about the state of employee retention:

1. Only A Third Of U.S. Employees Are Actively Engaged

Gallup recently published a workplace report showing that only a third of American employees are actively engaged at their places of work. This is a big step up from the global average, which sits at around 15%. However, it still means that two-thirds of U.S. employees are either very negative about their workplace or simply don’t care all that much to begin with.

2. Low Engagement Costs U.S. Business Approximately 500 Billion Annually

Disengaged employees are not only bad for morale; they actually affect your business’s bottom line. This is because employees who aren’t engaged don’t take ownership of their actions, nor are they overly concerned with the company’s success as a whole or their colleagues’ well-being in the long run. As such, productivity and performance levels tend to take a dive.  

3. The Average Employee Will Work At Your Company For 4 Years

Currently, the median tenure for salaried workers in the United States stands at around 4.1 years. This means that from hiring to exit interview, your company likely has less than half a decade to benefit from the skills of a given employee. For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to have strong talent funnels, succession plans and post-employment contact platforms in place.

4. The Failure Rate Of New Hires Can Be As High As 50%

Employee churn continues to be a big issue, with as many as half of all new hires resulting in failure i.e. a poorly placed employee who quickly moves on to the next company. There are various factors at play here. It could be that a company’s hiring practices are not up to scratch. Or that there is a cultural issue that has to be addressed.

Whatever the case, according to industry experts like Forbes, boomerang hires can help to bring down this considerable number, especially in the light of forced layoffs that occurred due to COVID-19 and related economic pressures. Many of these former employees are chomping at the bit to return to the frontlines and become valuable company assets once more.

5. More Than 40% Of The U.S. Workforce Will be Freelance By The End Of 2021

In about five years, it is projected that freelancers will account for the majority of the U.S. workforce, at 50.9% of the working population. With the current growth rate taken into account, smart money is betting that by the end of 2021, 67+ million Americans will be freelancing. That’s more than 40% of the American workforce.

These types of statistics should give any company that is still locked into an exclusively full-time employment strategy pause for thought. Clearly, the future of work calls for a less static approach and a stronger focus on adaptability.

Why Stay In Touch With Departing Employees After The Exit Interview?

Retention stats point to a general decline in employee tenure. Does your company have a system in place to keep in touch with departing employees once they are ready to move on? Corporate alumni groups and platforms are popping up all over the globe - why so?

These corporate giants all understand one crucial aspect: retention doesn’t have to mean a full-time employee label. Instead, they carry the label ‘alumni’ where the person continues to serve the business in some way after leaving. After all, we know that the exit isn’t the final goodbye.

Here are a few notable ways in which corporate alumni can contribute to the success of a business:

Boomerang Hires

Once alumni have stretched their wings and seen what else is out there, they may decide to return to their original employers to put their newfound skills to good use.

Boosted Employer Brand

Companies that support and champion their ex-employees boost their employer branding and can attract higher-caliber candidates due to their strong and healthy corporate culture.

Lifelong Ambassadors

Departing employees who are still happily in touch with their prior employers spread the news about goods and services. They can even bring in collaboration opportunities with new partners down the line.

Talent Referral

Corporate alumni are uniquely positioned to recommend new talent. They know what it’s like to work for a given business and what it will take to thrive within those circumstances. As such, they can pre-vet candidates and recommend colleagues and associates who will be an excellent cultural and organizational fit.

Contingent Workers

Alumni can also come on board as freelancers, consultants, or contingent workers down the line, with new skills in the bag, at that!

These are just a few ways how staying in touch with corporate alumni can benefit a business in the long run. It makes sense to look beyond retention to make the most of an ongoing relationship when employees are ready to move on.


Retention stats paint a clear picture of the state of tenure in modern workplaces. But, the fact that people change jobs should not influence your company’s productivity or profitability in 2021.

Instead of forcing tenure, forward-thinking businesses are leaning into the contingent job market and keeping top talent in the loop as consultants and alumni ambassadors. This approach keeps businesses agile enough to take on major challenges with the right workforce in place to deliver their goals.

For more information on how a corporate alumni program can work for your business, get in touch with the EnterpriseAlumni team today.

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