Employers: Why ‘Job Hopping’ is Considered the New Normal

Remember when anyone who didn’t stay at a job for at least five years was considered a “job hopper”?

That is no longer the case today. That’s because the job market and employment marketplace has undergone a radical change since those days. It’s been so radical, in fact, that it’s difficult to believe what was once considered “job hopping.” First it was anything less than five years. Then it was three years. Then, more recently, it was 18 months.

Now changing jobs every 18 months is considered more commonplace. And it’s happening, as the Great Resignation continues to churn through employees and increase turnover in organizations throughout the country. However, believe it or not, switching jobs even more frequently than a year and a half is now becoming more normal, as well. And there is plenty of data to back up that statement.

Younger generations leading the way

Lattice, a technology company specializing in business applications, conducted a survey in April of this year. According to the results of that survey, 52% of respondents who had been at their job for three months or less said they’re actively trying to leave. Not just passively trying to leave—actively trying. And for people who had been in their current job for between three and six months? According to the survey, 59% of them were trying to leave.

And if you’re thinking that the younger generations are contributing the most to this trend, you would be correct. First, it was the Millennial Generation that started changing jobs more frequently. However, even they can’t “hold a candle” to Generation Z. According to data supplied by LinkedIn earlier this year, the members of Gen Z are switching jobs at a rate 134% higher than in 2019. (That compares to 24% higher for Millennials.) But it doesn’t end there. Also as part of the LinkedIn data, 25% of Gen Z are planning to leave their employer in the next six months.

A variety of factors have contributed to this continuing trend. One would be the fact that the members of the younger generations are more transient and crave more freedom and flexibility. (Millennials are now the most represented generation in the workforce.) Another would be the rise of remote work, due in large part to the pandemic. And then there’s the dual phenomenon of an increased hiring demand and a short supply of qualified workers and talent in most industries. This dual phenomenon is most prevalent in the Veterinary profession, where the unemployment rate is hovering just above zero. (If there are unemployed veterinarians out there, I haven’t met any in quite a while who are unemployed and want to work.)

A 4-step plan for combatting turnover

So, all of this begs the question: as an employer, what can you do to combat this? Below are four step to ensure that the new employee you just hired doesn’t leave in three months, six months, or even a year:

#1—Make sure that their experience matches their expectations.

This is the “validation of experience” that I’ve discussed in previous blog posts and newsletter articles. When a new employee is hired, what they expect to experience during their employment with the organization had better match their actual experience. If it doesn’t, then there is already a problem. This is one of the reasons that new employees begin thinking about “jumping ship” soon after being hired. They were told one thing, but they experienced another.

#2—Set concrete expectations.

Even if the employee’s experience matches their expectations, there is still much work to be done. During the hiring process, the employee wanted to know where they stood in the process and what the next steps of the process were going to be. It’s much the same after you’ve hired them. They still want to know where they are in the process—in this case, the onboarding process—and what the next steps of the process are going to be.

Basically, they want the answers to two questions: “Where am I?” and “Where am I going?” Knowing the answers to those questions gives them a sense of security, and that’s exactly how you want your new employees to feel secure.

#3—Maintain consistent communication.

This is the best way to keep the new employee engaged during the early stages of their tenure. On the reality show “Alone,” there is a term known as “drop shock.” That’s what contestants experience when the show’s producers drop them in the middle of nowhere in a helicopter and then fly off. New employees can experience the same thing (although to a lesser degree, of course). In other words, you don’t want your new employees to feel as though they’ve been dropped into unfamiliar territory all alone, with no one to lend a helping hand.

#3—Gauge the employee’s level of engagement over time.

An employee’s level of engagement is a true test of whether or not they’re planning on leaving. Remember, engagement can wane over time. That’s why it’s critical to ensure that a new employee is thoroughly engaged at the start of their employment. That way, if their engagement does wane, it won’t decrease to a dangerous level.

On the other hand, if a new employee does not achieve a high level of engagement at the beginning of their employment, then it will be that much easier for them to become even less engaged. And when that happens, they’re at risk of leaving for “greener pastures. In fact, considering the conditions that exist in the current job market, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll be thinking about it.

As you can see, what was considered “job hopping” a decade or so ago is now considered tenured employment. In a way, just about everyone could become “job hopper” these days, and although that could be bad news for employers, it doesn’t have to be. Not if you take the correct steps to ensure that the top candidates you hire today are still your best employees in the future . . . however far into the future that might be.

(Editor’s note: Stacy Pursell is one of an elite group of search professionals who holds both the Certified Personnel Consultant and Certified Employee Retention Specialist designations. These certifications allow Stacy to help her clients find, recruit, and retain the best professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.)

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We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.