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Job hopping is the new normal - so what can you do about it?

Justin Lowe Jan 17, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Job-hopping has been on the rise in recent years, which makes sense -- an average North American job tenure is somewhere between 3.6 and 4.2 years at present, meaning a 22 year-old entering the workforce and retiring around 75 (hopefully) would probably work at 12-13 jobs in their career. Many people are holding 10 different jobs before 40 right now.

What’s driving all this?

Lots of different factors. A brief list:

  • The ability to make more money

  • Bad management

  • Hitting a ceiling work-wise at one place

Those would be the “big three” reasons why job hopping is becoming so much more common. The first one is completely logical. Oftentimes when you get promoted at a job, the raise is only a few percentage points (unless it was some massive leap). But by switching to a new company, you can often get 5% more -- or even more than that. Unfortunately, the math isn’t on the side of loyalty and until it is, you can't fault people for putting their own goals first.

Bad management is another concern: Bad managers actually drive people to earlier deaths, per research, and there’s only so much you can take of having a superior who doesn’t understand you, micromanages you, and the like. People will sometimes jump for less money just to avoid these situations. Remember the adage "people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers" is still completely relevant today.

And lastly, SHRM has conducted some research that shows most people ultimately want opportunities for growth at their jobs. But sometimes there are ceilings. For example, you may be super talented in your department, but your boss is going absolutely nowhere, and you can’t jump to that level until he retires, which might be 10-15 years away. In a scenario like this, if you get the opportunity to run that department somewhere else, you might take it, even if you love your current job. And again, it's hard to fault people for taking the chance to grow their own careers if that's not an opportunity you're able to provide.

Read more: Are your turnover rates high? Employee engagement might be the cause.

Does it matter that much?

Turnover is never good from a cost standpoint, so yes. There will always be some form of turnover, though. Job-hopping happens. But it’s important to figure out why it’s happening if rates are increasing at your company. If it’s salary-driven, that means you need to evaluate your compensation for different roles. If it’s driven by certain managers on certain teams, they need coaching on how to deal with direct reports. And if it’s because of limited opportunities, you need to rethink the structure of your hierarchy and allow people different chances to (a) make more money and (b) take on more responsibility.

What about for candidates?

There is still a stigma among recruiters -- largely -- that someone who job-hops a lot is a “loose cannon” or might not be a good fit. So it’s a bit like aspirin: take one when needed but don't pop them like Tic Tacs. Basically, jump within reason, but don’t hop every six months to a year or it will be harder to get considered for future roles. As for the old advice of staying at a job two years? It’s still true to a certain extent, but it's becoming increasingly less relevant, especially as more Millennials enter management roles.

Pro-tip: Use these tips to better monitor turnover

Should you hire a job-hopper?

The much debated key question. If someone has a resume of 1-2 years in multiple roles, should you hire them? The answer? Absolutely, if they’re the right fit for that role. Give ‘em a try. If they hop on you again and that happens a few times, it’s perfectly OK to become skittish and go for candidates with long-term track records at other companies. But until it becomes a legit burn, get the job-hopper if he/she is the right person for the job. And who knows? Maybe you'll be the company that convinces them to stay put. Or even if they bounce on you, maybe the work they produce in the meantime will be worth the disruption later on. Hiring decisions are never quick or simple given all the different factors at play but at the end of the day, if you have a stellar candidate who's going to crush the position, you might want to give that precedence over a hop-filled resume.  

  

Topics: Employee retention, Talent Management

Justin Lowe

Written by Justin Lowe

Justin is the Director of Marketing and Sales at the McQuaig Institute where he helps companies refine their corporate culture and grow their human capital.