Is job tenure a thing of the past?

It’s safe to say that workforce trends have shifted over the past decade and especially after the last recession. Today there seems to be more of a self-oriented nature to the workforce and, along with it, job-hopping. Ryan Kahn, a career coach and founder of  The Hired Group, says that “job hopping is replacing the concept of climbing the corporate ladder.”

Let’s look at the numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of years that young employees (ages 20-34) have been with their current employer is 2.3 years.

Why is that?shutterstock_19393759

It must be that younger people are lazy or that they have no loyalty. Sound about right? While these seem to be reasonable reactions, I am here to tell you they are not. From my point of view, recent trends in job tenure or lack thereof, are not a product of laziness or a millennial mindset. Rather, the root cause of today’s abbreviated job tenure might very well rest on the employers and not the employees.

The past recession had employers scrambling to do “more with less.” And while this approach may have worked amid an economic crisis, operating the same way today is proving disastrous. Organizations and management hesitant to invest in their culture and employee engagement might just be the springboard of today’s transient workforce.

It’s no wonder the vast majority of U.S. workers (70 percent) are not engaged at work, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report. Simply put, too many employers are doing “business as usual.” I say, wake up and evolve with the times! It’s not that companies need pool tables, nap rooms, and Google-like amenities. Instead, try inspiring and leading the younger generation in meaningful ways. Some areas to shed light on are the following:

Today’s up-and-coming workforce is less position-focused and more purpose-focused. Rather than promotions in title only, assign side projects that stretch their human development. Be sure to provide routine feedback throughout the process. Also, the corner office is not so much a coveted item these days. Instead, the younger workforce desires open communal settings where they can collaborate and celebrate with their peers.

The next generation of talent is looking to work “towards” something and not just “on” something. Redefine your organization’s vision statement. Make it a crusade toward something bigger than any one person, like how your product/service influences the lives of many. Even if you manufacture widgets, you can still tie into the vision how they make a positive impact on people.

The next generation of movers and shakers do not want to work “under a manager” – they want to work “under a mentor.” The old days of “telling” employees what to do is being replaced with “asking” employees what they think they should do. Asking questions instead of advising or telling will cause employees to think, create answers they believe in and motivate them to act. Essentially, this moves individuals from mere compliance (job-hopper symptom) to sheer commitment.

My closing advice to the managers reading this: Exhausting precious time and energy on attempts to control situations and/or other people is futile. Focus on what you do control. Hire people most aligned with your vision. Invest in your culture. Open up the communication and make active listening part of every interaction.

I believe that until management figures this out and adapts, job-hopping will be the norm – or at least it will be in their organization.

What will you do today to move your employees from compliance to commitment?

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