Tuesday February 5, 2013
The job hopping phenomenon
Talking HR with Elisa Dass
DID you know? Ninety-one per cent of Gen Y employees leave their jobs in less than three years, according to the Multiple Generations @ Work survey by Future Workplace.
If you speak to some friends (or Google) about this, most of them would attribute these one-to-two-year work stints to the same reason the “disloyal” Gen Y! While many stated reasons are undebateable-ly true, let's explore other factors and parties that have also contributed to this phenomenon, and see if we can, hopefully, minimise this culture and effects of job-hopping in the coming years before we welcome in the Generation Z graduates.
I echo what Roshan Thiran, CEO of Leaderonomics, shared in his Talking HR article entitled How to Know When is The Right Time to Quit Your Job in June last year.
“My two-year rule runs on the rationale that it takes at least six months before you understand the new culture, process and are able to make sense of the company. Then, it will take you at least another six months to start identifying areas where you can improve and drive change.
“It will take another six months before you start to execute, making changes and an impact. And you need another six months to see the results of your execution and see if the changes you had implemented have worked and to rework it if necessary.”
What's commonly heard/said/read of job-hopping is that it is done for career growth, quick salary increments and lack of company loyalty. While this is true in many cases, many fail to see Gen Y as a generation consisting of key groups with distinct differences in mindsets and motivations. The following are some key groups that I have met in the world of business today:
The Driven Gen Y: These are the Gen Y who probably have Travie McCoy's Billionnaire as their theme song. Their vision board is flooded with dreams of retiring by 35, fancy cars and properties, and dream holidays. These guys with big dreams will likely be the ones who will move from one job to another if the “price is right”. They work hard and play hard, but their underlying motivation is to be a high-income earner in the shortest time possible.
The Life-Loving Gen Y: These are the Gen Y who believe in having meaning in what they do and who they do it with. Hence, company values and the team dynamics are important to them. According to Johnson Controls' Gen Y and the Workplace Annual Report, Gen Y look for a professional community they can emotionally engage with and one that can positively support their health and wellbeing. Their underlying motivation is happiness, work-life balance and being able to contribute to society at large directly or indirectly.
The Learning Gen Y: These Gen Y executives believe in lifelong learning experiences. In the same research, Johnson Controls found that the top deciding factor for choosing a company for Gen Y is the opportunity to learn. They look forward to continuous opportunities to learn (formally and informally) as well as periodical challenges to their job so it does not become monotonous. The underlying motivation of this group of Gen Y is to avoid monotony and lack of growth. They believe that like a plant, if you stop growing, you are withering.
With such motivation driving the Gen Y, job-hopping can sometimes bring a lot of short to middle-term fulfilment and results. Hence, what leads to job-hopping, it can be said, is more than just these motivational factors or a “lack of loyalty” to companies.
Let's look at how different groups of people can help minimise job-hopping.
The Gen Y employee:
The buck eventually stops at the Gen Y themselves in their decision to stay or leave. Knowing what they want the Gen Y need to keep that very clear in mind when they interview for a job. Asking the right questions during the interview related to their underlying motivation will definitely help ensure a better cultural fit between the company and the employee.
For a Driven Gen Y, having a good understanding of their compensation, reward and career growth will help make a decision if the company prioritises career advancement and remuneration for deserving employees.
For the Life-Loving Gen Y, meanwhile, asking the right questions on the culture of teams in the company can be beneficial. And for the Learning Gen Y, ask about learning/mentoring programmes and opportunities for additional projects outside your jobscope. This kind of initiative happens at interviews as well as when you're on the job.
While Gen Y chase their dreams, it would help to ensure that each step you take is towards a workplace that is aligned to it in the first place to avoid being disappointed and having to leave the company in less than two years.
The employer (usually the Gen X):
As many reports have shown, Gen Y look for fair and justified compensation based on results produced, work-life balance, continuous growth and a flexible work arrangement. While many companies in Malaysia have an extensive training programme in place, much more can be done. Just to name a few in line with the three groups of Gen Y that we are addressing in this article, perhaps companies can do more in the areas of:
Stretching goal-setting with justified rewards for the Driven Gen Y. If they are looking for rewards, then help set them up for success. Managers of these employees can set stretched goals together with a clear definition of deliverables and rewards that follow.
Knowing your company culture and representing it well in interviews, websites and any other communication channels. This will help the Life-Loving Gen Y decide if this is the culture and work community they wish to be a part of.
Individualised learning opportunities for the Learning Gen Y. Provide opportunities or allow them to look for opportunities to grow their scope of work or be involved in cross-functional projects to ensure continuous learning. Provide developmental feedback for these employees to help them see their blind spots. They are usually very open to receiving feedback if it helps them grow as a person.
The ever supportive parents! (usually the baby boomers):
Last but not least, parents who cast a safety net for these Gen Y, STOP! These Gen Y graduates and employees will have to mature, grow and be responsible for the decisions they make. Some Gen Y have the luxury of leaving a company before securing another in hand because they are confident there is a piggy bank that never goes empty back home.
The Gen X have been loyal to their companies in the previous years as they fear the loss of income may affect their family. This commitment to providing for their Gen Y children's education, needs and eventual marriage is sometimes detrimental to the grown of their children.
As parents, teaching children to be responsible adults who bear the burden of their decision is more crucial than casting the safety net for a wishy-washy employee. Once these “fortunate” group of Gen Y know that they can no longer land safely without a hard knock on their backs, then the decision to take on a job and stay with it becomes a more deliberated one.
Dawn Schabel, founder of “Millennial Branding”, Gen Y expert and bestselling author of Me 2.0 states that “... Gen Y is optimistic about the future and are willing to do whatever it takes to build a career, including going back to school, starting a business or moving back in with their parents. They are the savviest generation when it comes to managing their careers online and are champions of work-life balance.”
Regardless of which category of this job-hopping phenomenon you fall into the Gen Y employee, employer or the parent we all have a role to play in this.