Is it true that younger workers job hop more than older workers?

Posted September 08, 2020 by

I wish that I had a dollar for every time that I’ve heard people complain about the youngest generation in the workforce being prone to job-hopping. I’ve probably heard that thousands of times over the years, first about Gen X (my generation), then Gen Y (a/k/a Millennials), and now Gen Z.

So, before we even dive into the meat of the matter, let’s separate out behaviors that are generational from those which are age-appropriate. A behavior that is driven primarily by which generation you belong to would those which are far more common amongst those in your generation regardless of their age. For example, those raised during the Great Depression of the 1930s are typically far more frugal than those in previous or subsequent generations. In contrast, behaviors that tend to change as you and others in your generation age are more related to your age than which generation you belong to. For example, video games were all the rage amongst all of my friends when I was a teenager, but we hardly play anymore. We just aged out of that behavior.

In the workforce, it might be tempting to say that Gens Y and Z prefer to text than communicate in other ways. Certainly, far more of those generations are comfortable texting, but is that a generational or age-related difference? I doubt that 40 years from now these people will still prefer to text instead of communicate in other ways. Other forms of communication will come along that will be more efficient, effective, or both.

It is also tempting for older adults to question the loyalty of younger adults. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers can often be heard to complain that Millennials and Gen Z job hop. Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Crosschq, acknowledges the stereotype that younger workers, “get bored, they move from company to company, they expect promotions and recognition before they earn them are all common refrains”. 

Mike disputes the truth behind that stereotype, however, and I agree with his assessment. Crosschq’s “data shows this is not the case.  When presented with opportunities at other companies, we found that younger people or those in entry-level positions were 21 percent less likely to respond than those that had been on the job for more than three years or in management positions. Younger people are more loyal to their companies than we think, and we’ve developed products to predict which candidates will stick around the longest.”

Crosschq’s technology gathers direct insights from people, for people and transforms those insights into powerfully predictive data that helps ensure a great job match between talent and a company. I like this approach, as I see too many employers focusing primarily or even exclusively on what are often referred to as hard skills: school, major, grade point average, degree, and work experience. Not enough place enough emphasis on soft skills. Fitzsimmons says that two of the most important soft skills that employers should consider are the ability to flourish in certain organizational cultures or different management styles. 

If employers want to reduce turnover, they need to vet candidates both on hard as well as soft skills. According to Fitzsimmons, “figuring out role and org fit for job seekers with no experience can be tough, but it’s important to ensure a proper match and to set them up for success.” So, if you want to reduce job-hopping, understand that it is likely due, at least in part, to the hiring criteria and process that you’re using. Quite simply, you might be rejecting some of the best and accepting some of the worst candidates because you’re paying too little attention to the soft skills that drive the turnover.

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Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters | Tagged