What Businesses Can Learn From Job Hoppers
Top talent has developed a habit of quitting and hopping jobs for greener pastures, especially in the post-pandemic labour crisis. What can organizations learn from this growing trend and what steps should they take to become "employers of choice" who can attract - and retain - the talent they need?
Are your highest performers suddenly walking off the job? In case you hadn’t noticed, people are stepping down from the workforce in unprecedented numbers.
In April, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported four million Americans quit their jobs, the highest monthly number since 2000 when this metric was first gathered. That was nearly three times the number of layoffs (1.4 million), which are at an all-time low.
And it’s not just the U.S. that’s being affected. Surveys and polls from around the world show that talent at all skill levels is itching for change. These feelings were lingering around pre-pandemic – millennials, for example, have more career wanderlust than older generations. COVID-19 and its global labour impact only amplified the trend.
Pandemic job hopping is all the rage
The pandemic has demonstrated that non-traditional working arrangements are a necessary option for employees. Flexible employers— open to trying or adopting unique work structures, will find themselves with a happier, more motivated team.
No one knows what post-pandemic work will look like, but for many employees, the pandemic has done a lot to allow the flexible-working-arrangement genie out of its bottle.
A May 2021 global survey from business consulting firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) showed that more than half of all the employees were willing to quit their jobs to get greater flexibility in how and where they work. A similar study from Microsoft found 41 per cent of surveyed workers were thinking about quitting their jobs to ensure they get a flexible working arrangement.
Similar results have been found in the UK; another May 2021 survey from HR software firm Personio found that 38 per cent of workers in the UK and Ireland are looking to change jobs in the next year as economies rebound.
Okay, so more people are quitting in search of better jobs. But other than greater flexibility, what are they looking for?
It’s not just about the money
The last 20 years have shown that there’s no longer a perfect formula for career success. A master’s degree isn’t guaranteed to get you a high-paying job anymore. Even a PhD may not be the golden ticket. But given the current global context, there’s more to it than just money. Job hoppers want to earn more, but high pay is not always the catalyst.
Insurance company Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that over 80 per cent of respondents who indicated they were looking for a new job said lack of career advancement opportunities was a major motivator.
We also need to remember the factors that made people quit jobs before the pandemic.
One of the key reasons for departure? Bad bosses. Gallup, one of the world’s biggest market research and polling companies, has for some years now found that a gross majority of people who leave their jobs do so to escape a bad boss.
Okay, so if everyone is leaving, what makes good people stay? A 2018 study of Facebook employees, published in the Harvard Business Review, revealed that while “bad boss” is a frequently cited cause for leaving, it was not always a trigger for employees who received a range of other benefits and opportunities through work.
Employees who stayed with Facebook were more likely to describe their jobs as enjoyable and exciting. These loyal workers held jobs where they could use their strengths, and were given opportunities by the company to grow their careers.
This is consistent with other data that shows seven out of 10 workers globally rate “professional or career growth and development” as their number one issue for creating job satisfaction. It’s even more important for younger generations; nearly nine in 10 Millennials prioritize career growth and development as their number one satisfaction issue.
An opportunity, and a risk
After suffering through a chronic pre-pandemic shortage of skilled labour, the prospect of a new cohort of motivated job hoppers may seem like an opportunity for organizations to revamp and upgrade their talent.
But this labour force trend goes both ways.
If you are not taking steps to become an employer of choice, you won’t only lose top talent, you’ll have a hard time attracting eager new talent as well.
How do you set yourself apart in the labour market and ensure yours is the company employees want to work for? Before focusing on specifics, you need to re-think your entire organizational context and adopt what we in the HR profession would call a “coaching mindset.”
Coaching mindset is the foundation for all employers of choice
Coaching mindset is a whole new approach to talent management. From this framework, communication between employee and manager is totally open and transparent. Managers frequently discuss job satisfaction with employees, and everyone is given an opportunity to grow and learn.
How can an organization acquire a coaching mindset and in so doing, unlock the things that top talent values the most in a job? Certainly, offering coaching to leaders at all levels – from the C-Suite to the frontline – is a big part of it. When leaders are coached, they begin to absorb the coaching mindset and apply it to the conversations they are having with the people they are leading.
Some organizations also train some of their managers to be certified coaches, and then rely on those people to provide guidance to both manager and employee on how to carry out meaningful career conversations.
Meaningful conversations about career aspirations and job performance make employees feel heard and give their work value. But far too few organizations are engaging with their employees, particularly their younger employees, in this fashion.
Gallup reported in 2020 that only 17 per cent of millennial employees – the cohort most likely to job hop – believe they are getting meaningful feedback on their career or performance. Most people in this demographic want coaching conversations with their managers so they can plot out the future of their careers.
It can be done, with a little help from your (coaching) friends
Investments in coaching can pay off in so many different ways in today’s labour market. In the job hopping age, it can help retain top talent and serve as an important incentive when recruiting people who have quit unsatisfying jobs with other organizations.
All you need is an open mind, and the willingness to have that meaningful conversation.
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