Much has been written, maybe too much has been written, about the job-hopping trend that millennials in the workforce has caused.
Nicole Fallon Taylor, assistant editor of Business News Daily, recently wrote that:
“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.”
If you’ve been riding the waves of the current, ever-changing workforce, none of these things should come as surprise to you.
My question: “Has anybody from Gen A through Gen X bothered to thank these millennials?”
These are the young professionals who have put the power of employment and career development back into the hands of the worker. A stark, new reality is just starting to hit HR departments; the reality that no corporation or business is going to have a dedicated workforce comprised of the same employees for 20-30 years anymore.
Now, there really is a battle for talent going on; the rules have changed and the doors have swung wide open.
In Taylor’s article, Emily He, CMO of Talent Management Solution at Saba said:
“For millennials, it is more a matter of career exploration than climbing the traditional ladder. 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 OK 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.”
Inadvertently, millennials have knocked down a huge psychological barrier that often prevented people from seeking better employment. The stigma that was formerly attached to jumping jobs year after year is rapidly disappearing. In its place are limitless opportunities, along with Human Resources Professionals that are aggressively trying to figure out how to engage, incentivize and drive performance from a workforce that will only stay in one place for an average of 2-5 years.
Emily He added: “Companies need to change the focus [of millennial hires] from ‘How long can I keep you?’ to ‘How much can we accomplish together?’, and then power that relationship with the connections, context and technology that gives them a reason to bring their best game to your business…”
This really is a conundrum. How do you engage your people and optimize their performance when you know you only have a few years until they’ll be off again, repeating the cycle with another employer?
As careers become more portable, employers and employees alike are going to have to get creative in by working together toward the common goals of business and career growth.
The millennials can be thanked for kicking down the door that we will all walk through … whether we want to or not.
Joseph F. Bastian, president of The Human Performance Network, is a regular contributor to DBusiness.com and DBusiness Daily News.