Employee Retention: Reining in the Job-Hopper

By the age of 35, a quarter of all workers have had five or more jobs, and 20% of those over 55 have held more than 10, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey on job-hopping.

A job hopper is someone who shows a pattern of working briefly in one job after another, never really settling down in a new position before they start seeking out their next opportunity. Job hoppers are most prevalent among younger workers and recent graduates. They typically have the least experience in the workforce and are eager to build the skill sets needed to land their dream job. But, they could be hurting themselves in the long run.

According to the survey, 43% of employers said they wouldn’t consider a job candidate who has had multiple short-tenure jobs with multiple companies. And while 53% of the employers who were surveyed admitted that job hoppers often have a broader range of skills, the retention of top talent is still a key factor in building a successful business and the cost associated with replacing an outgoing employee can be significant.

You May Be Losing Much More than Just a Talented Employee
When a company hires a new employee, it’s very much an investment in that person. From the time and money spent recruiting and interviewing the candidate to the expenses involved with developing and training them for their new position, constantly replacing job hoppers can take a hefty toll. Meanwhile, the company’s remaining employees are likely to experience a loss in productivity if they are forced to take on the responsibilities of the vacant position until a new co-worker is vetted and hired. Even after the position is filled, it will take a new worker some time before they are 100% productive in their new role.

And then there’s knowledge loss. The skills and expertise each employee brings to the table when they start a new job are valuable assets. When a company builds strategies and programs based on their current talent base, it can be a major challenge when key members of the team suddenly move on to new opportunities.

So, what do you do? Ultimately, whether or not an employee will job hop is largely dependent on the individual employee. And while there are a variety of factors that affect the probability a particular person will seek out greener pastures, like age or salary, there are strategies employers can implement to help retain their top talent.

Establish well-defined career paths.
It’s hard to keep your eyes on the prize if you don’t have a clue where you’re going. Top performing employees like to know there is a plan in place for their movement though the ranks of their company. As a leader, it’s important to be clear about your expectations for your employees’ performance and be prepared to have honest conversations about what opportunities for advancement may be available to them as they reach certain milestones. Top performers are often goal-oriented thinkers. Show them a finish line, and they’ll work tirelessly to be the first one to cross it.

Provide opportunities for ongoing training and development.
From entry-level to the C-suite – workers at all stages of their career crave opportunities to expand their expertise and develop new skills. When top performing employees feel like their upward momentum has stagnated and they have become too comfortable in their current role, they tend to get bored and that’s when they’ll start looking for new opportunities to be challenged. So, it’s important to provide your workforce with opportunities to grow. From training seminars and workshops to allowing high-performing employees the chance to continually work on bigger, more challenging projects, your people need to know the company is genuinely engaged in their success and that their knowledge and expertise isn’t taken for granted.

Nurture positive employee-manager relationships.
Studies have shown again and again that, more often than not, people who voluntarily leave their company aren’t quitting their job – they’re quitting their boss. The relationship you have with the people you lead can be a key driver of success and productivity. It also has a major impact on employee morale and engagement. Whether it’s training in communication techniques or offsite teambuilding events, strive to build an environment conducive to nurturing positive relationships between employees and their managers.

While the above is far from a definitive list of retention tactics, it’s a place to start. In fact, you may even find that your employees have their own ideas on how to build the most productive environment. The only tactic that is sure to fail is taking no action at all.

How has your company been affected by job-hoppers? What tactics do you have in place to increase retention? Let us know in the comments section below.

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