Being a lover of data and analytics, I enjoy pouring over various labor reports and statistical analyses that are available on the web today. I usually have a lens to their survey methodology and the presentation of the findings for ease of interpretation and usability. Because, let’s face it, most of us want to change careers at least once in our lifetime, so there’s an additional layer of personal interest as well.
Now, what I found most interesting and drove me to write this blog was a recent question in a report I came upon asking job seekers about their frequency of switching jobs. The question itself and the responses aren’t that shocking, however, the way it was laid out on the page within the report caught my eye. It was the bold title and the way the question was asked: “How frequently do you change jobs?”
I saw this question and my resume flashed before my eyes! Well, not exactly. But I did think, "Had I responded to this question, I would have checked the box next to the one to three year group." However, if you were to look at my resume, you’d see that until recently I was changing jobs every one to three years within the same Fortune 500 company, by which I was employed for 11 years. Let’s remember the question asks frequency of switching jobs, not frequency of switching companies. Embedded within this Fortune 500 company’s DNA, employees have the ability, the tools, the processes and the requirement (if you will) that enables them to grow and change their job every few years. Ultimately, it was my responsibility to have ownership of my career growth and dialogue with my manager about my training requests and short- and long-term career goals.
How Times Have Changed
I find myself thinking that our ability to conduct these types of surveys and analyses of the data into meaningful and actionable reports continues to improve. So, I believe this report is providing data for a fact that has been occurring through the years. We just didn’t capture and report jobs data like this nor did job seekers have the instantaneous technology to network and apply for jobs as we do today. Oh, how different job hunting was before this era of transparency and social media. This is a stark contrast to just 10 years ago when a job seeker still relied on a company’s website and the interview process to make a final decision on their cultural fit. Therefore, a jobseeker can more confidently make a decision to leave a company regardless of years in a job given today’s technology-enabled world.
This is a nice segway into why job-hopping occurs particularly more often for millennials. Let’s think back to the early years of our career. Typically we are in roles that are: lower in salary, broader in scope and require less specific skill set. As we hone our skills and become more productive members of an organization, we seek out growth opportunities within our work — we want to take on more responsibilities, gain more specialized skill sets, lead projects and, of course, increase our salary. As we max out the responsibilities of the job, we become bored or restless, thus we seek a new job opportunity to grow our career.
Retaining Your Go-Getters
Let’s fast-forward to today. As leaders, these are all positive attributes that we’re seeking from our employees: ambitious, hard-working and gets the task done correctly and on-time. We can quickly identify these “go-getters” on our teams vs. the “I’m just here for my paycheck.” We understand how valuable the “go-getters” are to our teams and to the business as individual contributors and role models. Now we’ve come to the fork in the road for our employee, they’ve been with us for three years and they’ve indicated they have maxed out and want to move onto a larger job opportunity. What path will the “go-getter” take:
Will the “go-getter” take a new job within the existing company?
Or will they be forced to look outside of the company?
The answer to this question should always be within the existing company. We, as leaders within our organizations, must implement self-help for our business and avoid the latter option at all costs! We know that losing an employee costs the organization money, but losing a valuable employee costs money, knowledge and a brand ambassador who will refer their “go-getter” friends to work for our organization.
It begins with dialog between HR and managers, and managers and employees. HR has the oversight to see the big picture and understand the gaps and areas where the organization is moving. This dialogue needs to be frequent and not just annually, but monthly, transparent and documented. These conversations don’t always have to be formal but more of a “check-in” of sorts to ensure you and your team/employee are on the same page. Keeping a pulse on your employees and what they are feeling and what their goals are will allow you to keep other future opportunities in mind for them when that boredom kicks in.
Most employees like to be challenged; millennials especially tend to feel this way, so it’s important you view their eagerness to move among positions as a positive. Next, the notion that only a large organization could build the tools or has the culture that enables existing employees to grow into promotional roles within the organization is naïve. It doesn’t matter if you have five employees or 500, your company culture and DNA should be known throughout your organization, and it should be at the forefront of your hiring.
Every employee has a “What’s next?” thought at the back of their mind — whether they realize it or not. Understand your current workforce, identify their skill set and identify their short- and long-term goals — this will help you fill new roles and backfill gaps, reduce employee turnover, build a strong culture and develop your leaders. Develop your “go-getters,” make them your brand ambassadors and ask them to refer their friends to your organization as new job opportunities become available. Employees want to be treated with respect and appreciated for their talents. Grow your workforce from the inside out and reap the rewards. Who knows, you might be growing your next CEO right now!
How many times have you changed positions in your current organization? And have these changes helped you to grow or hurt your chances of finding another job in the future? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
For ways to recruit and retain the millennial workforce, check out a recast of the HCI webinar below.
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