June 12, 2018

Job Hopping Frustrates Employees as Much as Employers


If you’re reading this publication, you’ve probably heard that job hopping is the new promotion. Rather than wait years for a raise or a chance to climb up another rung on the corporate ladder, today’s employees — millennials in particular — seek opportunities elsewhere to advance their careers.

What you may not realize, however, is that these employees don’t like to job hop any more than companies like to see them go hopping.

“Workers want to build a career without having to frequently change companies,” says Gary Beckstrand, vice president of the O.C. Tanner Institute and coauthor of Appreciate: Celebrating People, Influencing Greatness. “While moving to a better opportunity affords value to the employee, frequent job hopping can create stress and dissatisfaction [because employees have to] to get up to speed on numerous learning curves, adapt to new workplace cultures, and establish new relationships.”

Show Them You Care

What employees want is, essentially, what employers want: To hunker down somewhere for a longer period of time to help the organization innovate and thrive. But employees will only wait so long to be recognized for their contributions. If rewards and new opportunities are slow to arrive — or seem not to be arriving at all — then the job hopping starts.

If you don’t want to see your employees bail for better pay and opportunities elsewhere, make sure you engage them. They need to know there is something in store for them if they stay with you. If an employee sees a clear path to success, they will be far more likely to hang with a company they know than take a risk with one they don’t.

“It’s all about creating a workplace culture where employees feel a connection to the company’s purpose, feel they have opportunities to grow and develop, are a part of a successful team doing meaningful work, feel appreciated for their contributions, know that the company cares about their overall well-being, and receive coaching and support from leaders,” Beckstrand says.

Slow Your Hop

As for those workers who have one foot out the door: Not so fast. If you want opportunity, ask for it. If you want cultural changes, take part in creating them.

“Successful employees take accountability to contribute to their workplace cultures,” says Beckstrand. “They put forth effort to do their best work, they acknowledge and recognize the work of others, they proactively find ways to contribute beyond their job description, and they find ways to align their work to company purpose. They also always try to be part of the solutions to the challenges that inevitably manifest in any organization.”

Recruiters and hiring managers often distrust candidates whose resumes are full of many periods of short-term employment. The suspicion is understandable, but it’s really up to recruiters and employers to weed out the compulsive hoppers from those whose professional ambition drove their movements. There are, after all, many good reasons to leave a job.

“Often, there are reasonable situations that contribute to job changes that don’t reflect poorly on the individual,” Beckstrand says. “It’s helpful to ask the questions that will best give an indication of fit within the organization. If a company hires to fit, it can reduce the chance of unexpected turnover.”

In other words: If you’re not sure about why a candidates has moved around so much, just ask them. The ensuing conversation will be more illuminating than any baseless conjecture could ever be.

Employment isn’t so different from a relationship. It’s a two-way street. Employers owe it to their workers to provide opportunity, recognition, and engagement. On the flip side, employees must invest in the company to create the change and the opportunity they want to see. Unless both sides are engaged, everyone loses.

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Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.