Skip to main content

Do aged care workers have the worst job tenure in history?

We have been wondering why so many people are moving jobs in the aged care and community services sectors. Some of our candidates become clients and then become candidates again, hit the repeat button. We’ve seen this over the past ten years from the founding of P.J. as a business.

Earlier in the year I was speaking with my sister in law, we broached the subject of job tenure and its importance, both to the employer and the person in the job. With her being a business process engineer / customer experience consultant, we decided it would be great if she’d take a look at some of the recruitment data at P.J. over the past three years. This was during a time when she was on the job hunt herself and finding the market particularly slow in Australia in terms of how long a recruitment process takes so off we went. She took a deep-dive into all sorts of data points we collect along the way, in terms of our recruitment process, but also looked at presentation of placed candidates resume, their job tenure, age and stage, gender and how far they live from the job they are placed in – lots of interesting stuff.

It would appear the gold watch given to the employee who has served 10 years at the one employer is not attainable in the sectors into which we recruit. The important figures we were looking for in this data mining exercise, was data points we could use to ‘sure up’ the candidates P.J presents to clients who are going to stay in those jobs.

When we looked at candidates we have placed over the past three years, 94% of executives we have placed are still in that job after 12 months. In addition to this, they are people who have an average job tenure of 2.5 years or more for their career, since starting their profession. I would say most organisations in aged care or community services are finding something similar in terms of job tenure. That is unless they are a larger employer and can offer employees multiple career opportunities, or a career pathway over time. What is this telling us about the aged care and community services sectors? By comparison within Australia the average job tenure has been sited to be anywhere from 5 years and up.

A research article by mccrindle ( in 2015 shows, dependant on age category, most people have three jobs in a decade.

More widely in Australia though, the Reserve Bank of Australia information extracted from Treasury in 2017 states that 40% of workers have been with their employer for more than six years. Some of their job-tenure-specific research papers tend to suggest “The movement of existing workers between different jobs has been an important mechanism facilitating changes in the industry and geographic structure of employment over the past decade.” This is sometimes the case in the aged care and community services sectors too. It is important to attract ‘new blood’ in to both a sector and company – keeps things fresh. Flip side of that is that too much job mobility isn’t good for any sector either.

In 2017, Indeed ran a study of US workers across industries to learn how often employees change jobs. The results reported the average job tenure was seven years.

Top three things that retain an employee

The reason employees switch jobs in the US is career advancement, remuneration / benefits, work environment, work/life balance in that order. Recently Seek surveyed 6000 job candidates (candidates actively seeking work via Seek) in Australia and their “Laws of Attraction” ( paper shows the top drivers of attraction for candidates to a job in Australia is:

1)      Work/life balance

2)      Salary/compensation

3)      Job security

Shows that Australian employee career aspirations and drivers may be different to those in the US.

Perhaps that is why we are seeing a lower than National job average tenure with candidates we are placing, both in middle management and executive positions.

Whilst we know the aged care and community services sectors are really really busy, highly regulated, a bit like a pressure cooker at times with loads of demands, perhaps we should be looking more closely at allowing people to have a better work/life balance. Lower average job tenure means higher staff turnover – not a great business metric. It is often something quite simple that can make a significant difference – flexible working conditions, additional annual leave etc. Perhaps work/life balance genuinely offered (not just talked about) to employees would improve job tenure which would lower staff turnover. We need to start talking and thinking about this a bit more.

Leave a Reply