business woman using smartphoneMy sister has been working at a new job for the past month. But, recently, she was contacted to interview for another position she had applied for before landing her current role.

This position paid more and related to her ultimate career goals much better. In her eyes, it was a much better deal. So, even though she’d only been on the job for one month, she quit and accepted the other position.

Upon hearing this I was very surprised because, at first thought, it seemed wrong to abandon an employer after such a short time.

Plus, as a millennial, I loathe millennial stereotypes, and here my own kin (a millennial herself) was adding to the few “bad apples” that many associate with the entire “bunch.”

Writing for Business News Daily, Nicole Fallon shares her experience with millennial turnover. In the article, “Solving the Mystery of Gen Y Job Hoppers,” she writes:

Gen Y’s notoriously short attention span has even transferred over to the workplace, where it’s not uncommon for a 20-something to have worked for three or four different employers just in the last few years. Every time I check LinkedIn, I see another former colleague, classmate or industry contact who is moving on to another job after just a year or two at their last one. Even I left my first job three days shy of my one-year work anniversary. And while baby boomers who have spent their whole careers at the same company may scoff, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach — at least according to us.

Maybe job hopping doesn’t phase millennials, but I’m sure it means something to the employers who hire us. According to a survey conducted by Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, and, “87% of companies reported it costs between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace each millennial employee they lose.”

And of the companies surveyed, 30 percent reported having lost 15 percent or more of their millennial employees in the past year.

Now, according to Fallon’s article (and even in my sister’s case), it’s not that millennials are going against the grain just because they’re ruthless and don’t care about the onboarding costs and invested time from a company; it’s more about career exploration.

Fallon quotes Emily He, CMO of talent management solution at Saba, who explains that millennials are more prone to job hopping because they seek to explore different career paths rather than working their way up the ladder in one role.

“For millennials, it is more a matter of career exploration than climbing the traditional ladder,” He said. “Research suggests that today’s college graduates will have a dozen or more jobs by the time they hit their 30s. In an uncertain job environment, it has become societally and culturally okay that they explore. The expectations have changed. Your 20s are used as the time where you actually figure out what you want to do, so the constant job hopping to explore multiple industries is expected.”

And, according to Fallon, if this is true, it means“…employers simply need to accept high turnover rates among its millennial hires.”

Now, with the costs associated with turnover, I’m not too certain any employer is just going to so easily accept that the top talent it works so hard to hire will leave at any given minute. But, perhaps employers can choose instead to focus on loyalty and understand that it means different things for different generations of workers.

I’ve previously written about millennials and loyalty, and even adding an extreme case like my sister’s into the mix, my views are the same. Workers are loyal to themselves—perhaps the millennial generation demonstrates its belief in this notion more than others.

A company can hire someone and fire him/her whenever it pleases (as most contracts include at-will clauses). This means my sister could have worked at her job for one month and been dismissed, without a new job lined up. Likewise, employers can fire workers who have been with their business for 20+ years. The employer may not be “loyal”—in this sense—and is not does not have the worker’s best interest in mind (at the end of the day) but that of the company’s.

So, millennial workers have this same attitude—just on an individual level. Their loyalty lies with them and their career goals. As in my sister’s case, she was a recent job seeker turned employee when a better opportunity presented itself. Ultimately, we have our career goals in mind when making decisions, not the “feelings” of a company.

Companies fire short and long-term employers every day with no regard for the workers’ well being; they’re doing what they believe is best for business. So then, is it truly wrong for millennials—even new hires—to “look out for number one” and keep their loyalty to themselves?

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