My dad was a young man during World War II, which means he was raised by parents of the Greatest Generation. In his youth, he participated in wars and saw the fall of empires. As a minority, he witnessed and felt the impacts of integration and the changing family dynamic. Literally everything around him changed -- except for one thing.

He worked in the same job his entire career.

Back then, his generation was expected to go to school, learn a skill or trade, then work for the same company their entire careers. Like so many others of his generation and every generation prior, he did just that.

Then came the X Generation (my generation). We too were expected to go to school, learn a skill or trade, and serve one company throughout our career -- but many of us did not. Globalism affected industries and workers' attitudes by providing new and exciting opportunities previously unavailable to us. As a result, many of us often switched jobs, while some even switched entire careers.

This shift in attitude was not always welcome. Job switchers were forced to carefully and creatively edit resumes to show breadth of experience while demonstrating company loyalty. Mostly, however, job switchers were shunned by employers, as it was a risky proposition to hire, train and invest in someone who showed a propensity to leave.

Today, everything has changed. Flanked with advancing technologies, evolving industries and changing expectations, the skills of the past are needed less and less every day. Moreover, we see skills learned today becoming obsolete in a few years, creating a need for employees to "upskill" just to stay relevant.

Changing jobs and careers these days is not only expected, it is needed. 

Moreover, data seems to show that employees have a financial incentive to switch jobs. According to Forbes, a study released by The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Wage Growth Tracker demonstrated that income increased 4.5 percent for job switchers compared to those who remained in their position. According to Bloomberg, a report by ADP also showed a 5.3 percent increase in compensation for job-switchers compared to 4 percent for those who stayed with their company.

The bulk of the wage increase for job switchers was experienced by information industry workers (9.7 percent), construction workers (8.7 percent) and those in professional and business services (8.3 percent). Only two industries experienced falling wages for job-switchers -- the leisure and hospitality sectors. 

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, as more Millennials and Z Generation workers enter the workforce, companies need to curb the expectation that they will stay in their jobs. While employers can still expect to find loyal employees, they will have to work harder to create and maintain loyalty

And while this focus clearly assumes an increase in time and cost, managers can rest assured knowing that the cost to retain employees is less than the cost of employee turnover.

Second, as larger companies more aggressively position themselves to attract top talent, smaller business will suffer. It is already difficult and expensive to start and grow a business, and having to worry about employees leaving at the first sign of "greener pastures" will be a lingering struggle and anxiety for entrepreneurs.

The good news is that every generation before us has managed to survive, adapt and do better than the previous. Like or hate job-switchers and career-changers, companies and entrepreneurs need to embrace this new norm -- and perhaps learn from and adopt some of the same practices.

Published on: Dec 13, 2019
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