How to Retain Gen-Y Job Hoppers? Don't Bother
Much attention has been paid to today's job-hopping youth (despite evidence that Boomers have pretty much equally short attention spans for jobs). With the long-term compact between employers and workers well and truly eroded by the rapidly changing tech and business environment, it is no shock that young people in particular find themselves switching gigs often after just months. A two-year stay at a company has come to seem like a lengthy tenure.
Nonetheless, experts are busy wringing their hands about whether this is harmful to young people's careers, and business leaders occasionally indulge in rants about the fickleness of young employees, instructing them on how not too burn bridges when they move on. But what if we put all this advice and admonishment of fast-moving young workers aside, and looked instead at the phenomenon of job-hopping from the perspective of the employer? How should business owners respond to the rise of the job hopper?
This is the thoughtful question raised by entrepreneur an author Ben Casnocha on his blog recently. In a post that also delves into what developing nations should do to retain talent, Casnocha offers some advice for companies looking to get the most out of talent in a world where, for young people, moving on quickly is simple and expected. Forget trying to find a way to keep an iron grasp on talent, writes Casnocha, and embrace reality instead:
How should companies think about the implications of these expectations? How do companies think about HR and retention?... Instead of denying the job-hopping, opportunity-seeking ways of young talent today, it seems wiser for companies to face the reality and embrace it. Help employees develop transferrable skills. Help them build the start-up of themselves. And be very explicit with new hires about the expectations: “We expect you to give us a really strong tour of duty for 2-3 years. When you leave, we expect you to be part of our corporate alumni group. We want you to be part of our corporate alumni network. We want you to help recruit new employees. We want you to be lifelong ambassadors and evangelists for our products and services. But we know you’re super talented and will come upon many other career opportunities while you work here. We know your tenure at the company may not last more than a few years.”
Essentially, try to retain employees for as long as possible, but be frank about their likely brief tour of duty, and be clear that you expect them to be active corporate alumni members for the years after they leave the company.
The right approach when it comes to young talent, in Casnocha’s view then, isn't to try and lock them down but instead to get the most out of young workers while they stick around by encouraging them to give their all. How? Show respect for their personal ambition and career journey, which also offers the added bonus of creating a committed ambassador for the company when they leave.
Do you agree that this is the best approach?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.