Busting Myths about Millennials: Job Hopping

The ongoing narrative is that Millennials are serial job-hoppers—ungrateful and unloyal. “Why bother hiring them,” managers say, “if they only stay 6 months?”

But new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests this narrative is just not true. It turns out that Millennials are no more likely to “hop” than previous generations when they were young.

The BLS study shows that the average job tenure for 20-somethings (many current Millennials) is the same today as it was in the 1980s, when the oldest members of Generation X were in their 20s, and that how long a young employee stays in a job is more a factor of youth than of generation.

An older study by BLS also revealed job-hopping is largely due to younger employees’ search for their professional strengths, interests and best career path. “Of course, there is significant job movement among young workers, both in terms of employers and types of work. Still, once they settle into a career path, employees become considerably more stable in terms of their work than is generally thought,” according to the study.

The same is true today. Overall, job-hopping tends to stabilize more after age 28 for the majority of workers—and job-hopping seems to happen less for those with higher levels of education, according to BLS data from 2016.

But consider this: For young professionals, job-hopping may have benefits. Trying different jobs at various companies can help them grow professionally, learn about themselves and attain new skills quickly. Further, studies show they may make more money moving from company to company than staying with one company long term: A job change can yield a 10 percent or more increase in salary, whereas the average annual raise is just 3 – 4.5 percent.

What Managers Can Do to Keep the Best Millennial Employees

Staying with one company for an entire professional career is not a “thing” now like it was for previous generations. It just doesn’t happen.

As a manager, it’s important to recognize that Millennials have no qualms about staying with a company long-term — they would just rather do so for a company that values their growth and development the way their parents did as these Millennials grew up.

To do this, managers should show a genuine interest in their younger employees’ career development and long-term goals.

In addition, cross-generational mentoring programs can keep Millennial’s engaged and provide a unique chance to learn more about career development at your company and envision themselves at that company well into the future.

Millennials are most interested in working for companies that help them see the “greater good” in what they do on a day-to-day basis. Managers who make it clear that the work the company does make a difference in people’s lives and makes the world a better place are more likely to have happy employees and lower turnover. Offering volunteer opportunities and community-oriented professional development is also key to keeping these valuable employees around.

Lastly, be transparent and be authentic. Millennials crave honesty and follow-through from their professional leadership on the health and well-being of the company, and the company’s mission, vision and goals. Fostering a culture of openness can help prevent Millennials from getting nervous and looking for new jobs based on false or incomplete information, as they fear layoffs just like their parents did.

Seven years after the great recession, the economy is still in recovery and morphing to a new economic paradigm called the “gig economy”, where Uber driver jobs might be plentiful, but meaningful work with benefits is scarce. If you are an employer that has meaningful work, can provide a growth and development plan, and an openness to skills that young professionals can bring, you have a good shot at stopping the hopping.

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