Why is it that some people stay devoted to one job for many years, while others seem to flit from one position to another? Why do some careerists plant themselves into a role for the long haul while others frequently uproot for greener pastures?
There are many reasons people become job hoppers, some viable and others not so much. Either way, identifying their motives is helpful in managing potential flight risks; as well, knowing how to respond when a job-hopper “bad hire” creates a backlash is helpful in minimizing collateral damage.
Following are five reasons job seekers become job hoppers and how you can respond to the situation.
Reason #1: Their sense of economic stability has been rocked.
Some careerists have undergone one or more job disruptions due to no fault of their own, such as a downsizing or rightsizing. As such, they’ve become more sensitive to the tenuousness of their job and may develop a fight-or-flight response to uncertainty. At any sign of corporate or industry instability, their antennae go up, and their job-search strategy deploys.
How to Respond: Ingratiating yourself and the company, from day one, with this team member may help. Show, through actions and words, that you value their contributions. Be a visible leader in their day-to-day, regardless of the level of their role. Cement their loyalty, through commendations, financial rewards, time off and so forth, further dissipating their carried-over anxiety. Also, exhibiting a calm and confident demeanor about the company’s stature will help pacify employees even amid the struggles that otherwise might trigger their concerns.
[Related: How to Recruit & Retain Gen Z]
Reason #2: They are bored.
Overachievers and high-performers are credited with those monikers for a reason. They seek out and require challenges and rewards to deliver the endorphin rush and overall satisfaction they crave. Generally, these are talented, intelligent and productive members of your team, and you would be wise to hang onto them. Unfortunately, some high performers, while needed for the long-haul, are overlooked or otherwise left behind amid short-term company shake-ups, spurring them to leap to a new company for a new curve.
How to Respond: It may be reflexive to respond, “Some parts of the job are boring; deal with it.” And, while this is true to some extent, it is only natural to desire more from an activity that expends 40 or more hours of your life every week. This is particularly true for high-energy and motivated people. They need to be invigorated, intellectually stimulated and see results.
If you are unintentionally (or worse, intentionally) limiting your top-performers’ opportunities, then stop that, now. Liberating your best and most visionary employees to take flight will not only increase their loyalty, but it will also increase your bottom line!
[Related: 3 Keys to Retaining Gen Z Workers]
Reason #3: They are enjoying the fruits of a higher-paying and/or high-jobs-availability sector.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s article, “Workers in Higher Paying Sectors Are Increasingly Job-Hopping,” “… a higher quits rate should indicate confidence in the availability of jobs.” It is naturally tempting for careerists to consider the financial carrot of an influential recruiter when they come a calling. And, higher-paying sectors are likely to spur more such opportunities. As well, regardless of pay, if the availability of jobs in an employee’s area of expertise is abundant, then they are more likely to jump ship, if a better opportunity all-around reveals itself.
How to Respond: While benefits and other items like culture-fit are of high importance for retaining top talent and diminishing job-hopping, salary still reigns supreme. If you are not keeping pace with the salary of your hiring competitors, then you may want to re-think your short-term gains (e.g., hiring someone below market value) as actually creating long-term losses (e.g., because of the cost of replacing this low-paid employee sooner than expected).
As well, once the salary component has been resolved, look inside your company for other retention-negative activities that may need quelled. As long as your industry boasts strong hiring, you will need to elevate your retention game in regard to offering a positive, nurturing culture, opportunities for advancement, etc., in addition to a fair salary.
Reason #4: They are unstable, but they hide it well during interviews.
Many job hoppers are professional interviewees, knowing how to charm and influence their way into an offer, regardless of a spotty resume. You may have a difficult time unearthing their issues; e.g., substance abuse or some other personal challenge that impacts their ability to be accountable and reliable. Hamstrung by legal liabilities, many companies are going to be mum in divulging negative feedback about a past employee when you reach out to them for a reference check.
How to Respond: When an employee’s instability persists despite ample opportunity to make amends, you must find a way toward separation. While your human resources department likely will guide the process of termination, there are general guidelines to keep in mind as you chart your way.
Probably the most important rule of thumb to remember is to ‘track the details.’ Provide sufficient performance reviews and feedback to the employee for a verifiable period of time before engaging in the termination conversation. This not only will prepare them for the possibility of termination, but also will equip you with tangible proof, in case it’s needed, later.
Reason #5: They are unsure of their career path.
In some instances, a seemingly happily employed worker converts to job seeker because they are rudderless. Where foundational career goals are noticeably absent, any shift in the wind can create considerable havoc.
How to Respond: Deploying an employee mentoring and coaching option can be an invigorating investment into the team member as well as the company’s financial bottom line. From time to time, everyone from new-grad to senior executive may feel ungirded in regard to their career ambitions. With the right coaching compass, many such careerists can regroup and regain focus. This enables them to visualize and honor their own career goals while moving in a direction that provides value and constancy to your organization’s objectives.