Job hopping is a term used to describe the pattern of an employee changing jobs without layoffs or company closure. Many years ago, it was common to stay with a company for the length of the employee’s career. Employees would invest in the very company that offered economic stability in return.
In the last 20 years, it has become safer to find a career in job hopping. It has become somewhat of a necessary evil for employees. This does not make the employee “bad” or “disloyal”. It may mean companies are expecting too much for too little in return.
It’s also not a Millennial thing. Generation X and Millennial employees both exhibited job hopping behaviors. According to Pew Research Center, both Gen X and Millennials have had similar job tenures. Since 2000, no specific generation has job hopped more than the other. So, job hopping is not a Millennial thing. It started for the reasons below.
1. Companies treating employees as cost to the company
It makes business sense on paper: A company pays the employee. So, the employee is a cost to the company.
The human flaw in that logic is that employees today are passionate, desire acknowledgment and seek growth in the workplace. People do not like to think of themselves as having a monetary value. Job hoppers find it wiser to start job hopping, and if that does not work, go into business for themselves. Currently, there are more than 50 million freelancers in the USA.
For these job hoppers, if they are going to put money in someone's pocket, it may as well be their own. This does not mean they are delusional or disloyal. Just like the stakeholder of a company, the job hopper is focused on financial growth and stability.
2. Poor company leadership and broken trust
In the last 20 years, the US workforce has seen many stories of employees who watched their life savings disappear overnight due to poor leadership. Employees began to fear “company loyalty” was a fraud. After all, why be loyal to a company when leaders and stakeholders are only loyal to themselves?
Gen X employees seamlessly adapted to the online business world in response. Many became part-time or full-time entrepreneurs. Millennials watched the struggles of their Gen X parents. When they entered the workforce, Millennials brought with them a new business attitude and logic. They were entering with survival instincts handed down from their parents.
They learned job hopping is necessary for growth and survival.
3. Companies not keeping up with technology
We live in a time where any person can take courses online and learn a new job skill in a matter of weeks. Companies that are slow to keep up with technology lose employees with a hunger for growth.
Companies also lose employees when they know a faster, better way to get a job done, but management will not allow it. Asking employees to work with outdated tools is the fastest way to get them to leave.
Highly educated Millennials have been entering the workforce willing to job hop if necessary. Unlike past generations, they can learn new skills in their spare time. So, they do not need to stand around and wait for companies to try new ideas. They can experiment on their own time.
4. Companies that nurture job hopping
In 2017, the average tenure for employees, between ages 25-44, ranges from 3 to 5 years. Companies that became aware that people would have multiple jobs in a career. So, some companies opted for hiring people on contract or outsourcing.
Companies also began nurturing job hopping by not providing things that cause employees to stick around. For example, full-time employment or health benefits. In the USA, employees with health benefits stay with a company an average of 12 years.
Health benefits are expensive to a company, as well. And if a business fears the employee is going to leave quickly, why pay for it? Companies learned it is easier to make money without long-term financial commitments to employees.
5. Wages not adjusting to a modern business culture
In 2017, wage growth is very low. Unfortunately, so is productivity. But at the same time, inflation is low, too. The labor market is very strong for the first time in a decade, yet pay wages are rising barely faster than inflation. Confusing!
For some reason, even though there are reports of a booming job market and a low unemployment rate, companies have not been raising pay wages in a way that meets the immediate needs of the average worker.
This is what leads many to believe companies are relying on an outdated business logic. They are operating on the assumption that a great labor market leads to pay increases, and in turn, that becomes fuel for broader inflation.
The fact is this is not happening. This could be a sign people have become more self-sufficient and community-oriented due to the Internet and affordable technology. This ultimately means people are solving their own problems by working with each other, and not companies. So, they are loyal to the idea of growth, but they do not waste that loyalty on anyone who offers a paycheck.