How to Get the Job-Hopping Generation to Settle Down

Gone are the days when employees were loyal to their organizations, committing to one company for 25, 30, or 40 years. Today's skilled and driven professionals, specifically of the younger generation, are eager to quickly climb the ladder of success. They seek opportunities that are immediately gratifying – both financially and emotionally.

In fact, a study from Gallop indicates that 60 percent of millennials are open to finding new jobs, which means they're the category of worker most likely to make the jump. Millennials make up more than a third of the American workforce, and their penchant for job-hopping translates into $30.5 billion in annual turnover expenses.

While millennials certainly didn't invent job-hopping, they're certainly keeping the practice alive. A 2016 LinkedIn study found that people who graduated from college between 1986 and 1990 averaged more than 1.6 jobs in their first five years in the workforce. Meanwhile, people who graduated college between 2006 and 2010 – i.e., millennials – nearly doubled that average, holding roughly 2.85 jobs in the same time frame.

While many speculate about what has caused this pattern of behavior, no one really knows where it all started. In truth, for hiring organizations, the cause of mass job-hopping is not even important. Instead, what matters to employers is how to stop it from continuing.

HR professionals and executive management teams should be asking themselves what they can do to attract and retain top talent. To ensure longevity and loyalty, employers must foster employee development and facilitate advancement in the company.

To Retain Employees, Start Recognizing Them

Effective employee engagement programs can significantly increase employee retention rates. Organizations striving to obtain top talent and maximize employee performance should create rewarding and appealing environments that both allow people to thrive and compel them to stick around.

The two most important elements to employee engagement are properly communicating objectives and providing strategic direction. Young professionals today want input, collaboration, and frequent communication to help them evaluate their performance and set new goals. They seek guidance and feedback from both management and their peers.

Beyond that, people want to feel valued every day for their hard work and commitment. They crave frequent recognition of their success and acknowledgment of their contributions to the company. Developing an employee recognition program that rewards employees for their years of service, high performance, and continued excellence is a way to show people they're appreciated and respected. This, in turn, will make employees feel their efforts are worthwhile. When employees feel valued, they tend to stay with the company for longer and work even harder, leading to a more prosperous company overall.

To ensure a recognition program truly resonates with employees, organizations should take time to understand shifting work demographics. Stratified sampling can help here. Employees will tell organizations what is important in their work and their lives. It is the responsibility of the organization to listen.

For example, the hottest trend in consumer electronics is wearable technology, with 15 percent of consumers wearing fitness bands and estimated sales of 100 million units in 2017. Organizations can create wellness programs by including these devices in rewards programs and targeting fitness at all levels. Tracking steps taken, calories consumed, and sleep patterns can lead to healthier – and happier – employees.

The implementation of a carefully crafted employee recognition program can help organizations create appealing work environments where employees are treated as resources, not as commodities, thus slowing down the job-hopping trend.

Paul Gordon is senior vice president of sales at Rymax Marketing Services, Inc.