More and more of today's employers face the all too common problem of the job-hopping employee. The Millennial generation has gained a reputation for fickleness when it comes to employment longevity. Job-hopping isn’t a reflection of wishy-washy work attitudes, however. Millennials learned their work ethics in a fluctuating, unpredictable job market. Their search for other opportunities comes from a need to be on the look-out for lay-offs and pay cuts. Employers can instill a greater sense of satisfaction and job security in Millennials, though, by meeting their need to share company values and receive recognition. Incentive programs can help employers and leaders stay in touch with their Millennial employees’ desire to be appreciated.
Why Millennials Are Job-Hoppers
In the last few years, business publications like Forbes have devoted articles and studies to the Millennial work ethic. As Millennials mature in their workplace roles, interesting trends in their behavior have emerged. One of their most prominent and potentially harmful habits is job-hopping. Studies have shown that today’s college graduates may have a dozen or more jobs before reaching their 30s and most expect to stay at future jobs for three years or less. Forbes contributing writer Jeanne Meister says Millennials have become notorious job-hoppers because “strategic hopping has been all but necessary for as long as they can remember. Workers today know they could be laid off at any time – after all, they saw it happen to their parents – so they plan defensively and essentially consider themselves “free agents.”
How Job-Hopping Affects Employee and Employer
In a Millennial’s mind, job-hopping is the best way to stay happily employed, or to seize better opportunities. They may think that a diverse job history will equip them with a variety of skills that will come in handy when an ideal job finally does come along. What they may not consider is how detrimental job-hopping can be, not only to their own work reputation, but to the companies they leave behind. When companies have been burned too many times by job-hopping employees, they will start to ignore resumes filled with short-term employment.
From an employer perspective, job-hopping wastes time and resources. When a job hopping employee leaves a company after only one to three years, it means accumulated hours lost to training and development. A series of brief job stays could indicate to employers that candidates lack the talent, motivation, or people skills to maintain steady careers. This assumption is not always a fair one; it could lead to companies being overly cautious about job-hoppers and missing out on talented new hires.
What Employers Can Do to Keep Millennials in Their Workplace
The best way to address Millennials’ lack of commitment is to meet the needs that are important to them. Beginning their careers during the Great Recession influenced Millennials’ expectations of their professional lives. Millennials expect to work harder and earn less money than their parents, so they are looking to land careers that leave them more mentally fulfilled than financially triumphant. They feel unable to achieve their parents’ definition of professional success, so they have created their own. Engaging Millennials on their terms will increase their loyalty and sense of commitment.
Millennials derive satisfaction from feeling secure, being appreciated, having their input heard, and working with companies whose values align with their own. They also expect to be recognized for growth in their positions. Their need to be rewarded for progress may not be something managers are accustomed to. Motivational tools like incentive programs can make the reward and recognition process a part of any company’s everyday activity.
Incentive programs connect employees to managers and to each other, opening up communication about company or department goals and rewarding desirable behavior. Incentive companies like Incentive Solutions specialize in employee recognition and rewards programs. Online reward programs can be integrated into an existing company website and configured so that they comfortably become part of an organization’s culture and routine. Incentive Solutions includes several different approaches in their incentive and reward approach. The Total Recognition Suite, for instance, is a social media exchange in which users can commend and congratulate peers for their efforts. Much like the Facebook walls that are the hubs of most social lives, the Total Recognition Suite allows employees to create their own culture of celebrating one another’s success.
Administrators can also make Quick Points part of their Incentive Solution recognition program. Quick Points allow managers to hand out on-the-spot certificates for any exemplary behavior, such as thinking outside the box, solving problems, or giving co-workers a hand. Receiving instant recognition for their assets makes Millennials feel satisfied in their performance and more committed to their position.
It’s true that Millennials have been conditioned to seek new job opportunities due to the unstable economy in which they grew up. But they’ve also shown adaptability and optimism in changing their view of workplace success, appreciating positive work culture far more than their parents and grandparents did. Contributing to Millennials’ sense of recognition through reward programs will make them feel more secure in their positions and loyal to their organizations.
CEO of The ISI Group
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