Millennial Series: Experienced Job Hoppers?

Millennials are known as job hoppers. Is it a negative?

This is the final blog in our 5-part Millennial Series focused on recruiting, retaining and promoting Millennial professionals. We’ve learned so far that Millennials seek purpose + innovation from a team-oriented employer who provides shared learning and professional development opportunities. In addition, they also gravitate to employers who promote a work-life balance by offering flexibility.

One common assumption plaguing Millennials is that they are job hoppers, moving positions more than any other generation. This tendency has been viewed negatively, but the overall perception of this kind of job-hopping seems to be changing.  Some employers view a Millennial’s varied experience as a positive and focus instead on the individual’s potential going forward.

One Job, Two Job, Three Job, Four

Millennials are on the move. A recent Gallup report states, “21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials.” This frequent movement comes at a price. Gallup also reports that that U.S. economy takes a $30.5 billion annual hit from Millennial turnover.

So, why do Millennials job hop? A Forbes article claims either Millennials have low workplace engagement or their company does not offer enough compelling reasons to stay put. Studies have shown that Millennials will:

  • Take pay cuts for the right job
  • Leave jobs that do not offer work-life balance
  • Seek a new company to find a better fit for professional growth

Is there any benefit to all this job hopping? Akumina’s 2019 Millennial Manager Workplace Survey reports 75% of millennials believe that constantly changing jobs has advanced their careers. If that’s the case, job-hopping just may continue to be the norm. Given this trend, one could argue businesses are the ones who need to adapt to Millennials’ apparent career patterns.

Millennials as Job Hoppers. Overblown?

Counter-balancing the above data, additional studies have measured the frequency with which Millennials change careers and whether it is really that different than previous generations. The results here are interesting:

  • A Biz Journals article states the median length of tenure for individuals aged 18 – 34 in each of the Millennial and Gen X generations is actually quite similar, with recent data showing the average Millennial tenure is 1.7 years while the average Gen Xer in 2004 was 1.66 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • A Forbes article also cites the BLS, claiming “Baby Boomers did just as much job-hopping in their 20s as Millennials do these days.”

Millennials Are Realistic

Another complaint about Millennials is they demand promotions without putting in the work.  Here again, statistics tell a different story. A Business News Daily article says, “54% [of Millennials] said they understood ‘paying their dues and waiting their turn,’ and 64% said it was reasonable to stay in a role for up to two years before trying to move up.”

Okay to Job Hop?

Millennials believe the negative connotation associated with job-hopping is changing: “57% stated the stigma is losing ground when it comes to influencing an applicant’s candidacy.” Barring a sudden change, this probably means Millennials will continue to job hop. If this trend continues, businesses may want to conduct robust exit interviews to learn why they left and consider adjusting company culture accordingly.

Millennials Maintenance

To embrace Millennials, a good first step is to embrace their résumé, potentially full of various positions. Flipping your perception to see their varied experience as a positive asset could pay dividends down the road.

This series explored how to understand Millennials in order to best recruit, retain and promote them in your company. We’ve shown that Millennials:

  • Seek purpose + desire innovation
  • Are team-oriented + driven by shared learning
  • Pursue professional development to maximize potential
  • Are family-centric + aspire to work-life balance
  • Try multiple jobs to seek a healthy career fit

The Next Generation Enters the Workforce

Today’s workforce now experiences four generations working together, from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers to Millennials to Generation Z. This leads us to the question of how we best serve Generation Z in the workplace.

Stay tuned.