Why are Millennials Job Hopping So Much and How To Stop It?

The costs are significant. STOP Throwing YOUR MONEY AWAY!

If companies do NOT fix the underlying millennial job hopping problem… the results are:

            * High rates of Turnover

            * Unable to Attract Good Talent

            * Customer Retention and Referrals Decrease

            * Decrease in Employee Morale

            * Decrease Productivity

            * Increase in Employee tardiness and absenteeism

Additionally, if your company has high turnover, then you are caught in whirlwind cycle of continuous hiring and training new employees. Instead your focus needs to be on  employee engagement and retaining high performers.  

Managing Employee Job Hopping and Turnover

millennial job hopping causes and solutionsLong-term success of organizations today depend on this ability to attract the right people, and retain those high quality employees. We are currently living and working in a very competitive business environment.

As a leader of your company, you are key to  the long-term success of your organization. Workers and customers alike realize that what sets your company apart from others is not so much what you do or the services you provide, but who you are and the values, beliefs and culture of your company.     

According to SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) 78% of CEO’s are reporting that their biggest challenges are turnover, retention and employee engagement.  Turnover includes employees who leave a company voluntary or involuntary.

Job Hopping employees are those employees who voluntarily decide to leave your company (not fired, or retire). The millennial ob hopping employee often leaves unexpectedly. Many times these employees leave within the first two years of hiring. In some cases the new employee leaves within the first couple of weeks and in some rare cases within the first few days!

The High Cost of Losing Employees

managing employee job hoppingAccording to SHRM data the typical millennial job hopping and turnover cost range is from 60% to 200% of a person’s annual salary. If an employee can be replaced within one week the cost is about 60% of that person’s  annual income. The longer it takes to replace that employee the cost increases. A Columbia University study reported that  once training and lost productivity are added in, the true turnover cost was about 150% on average per employee.   

Here are some quick examples:

If you have 25 employees working for you and with a turnover rate of 20% that means you have about 5 employees that need to be replaced every year. If their average salary is 35K that means replacing them could cost your company  $105,000-350,000 per year.

If you have 25 employees working for you at an average salary of just $35,000 and with a turnover rate of 20% that means that replacing them could cost your company $105,000-$350,000 per year. Click To Tweet

If you have 68 employees with an average salary of 50K per year and you have a turnover rate of 53% that means about 37 employees need to be replace every year. Costing you $1,110,000 -$3,700,000 per year.

The Big Question

What is your overall turnover rate? And what percent of workers leave your company within the first two years and what percent leave within the first five years? 

Your organizations turnover and job hopping numbers will tell you the story.

How much money are you throwing away trying to replace employees? 

Bottom Line:  Your turnover statistics tell the story about your company processes, leadership, values, and …. yes your workplace culture.

Job-Hopping MYTHS and Realities

millennial job hopping mythsMYTH: Measuring Turnover and Job-Hopping isn’t that important

This myth originates from the belief that employees come and go.

Reality: Sometimes our biases get in the way of the hard data. Each employee brings strengths and unique qualities to an organization. While you can replace a worker, the new employee will never be a clone for the one you just lost.  Unfortunately it is typically the high performers that voluntarily quit.

MYTH: Low turnover is always Great!

Reality: There can be many reasons for low turnover, including, overpaid and/or under skilled workers. Sometimes a weak or uncertain economy or will keep employees at a company. Unmotivated employees lack desire and drive to look for other opportunities. Lastly, employees with bad behavior will not leave. Many times companies will put up with an employee who exhibits bad behavior, and sometimes companies will even promote these employees (often to manager level positions). Putting up with employees (and managers) with abrasive or unhealthy behaviors do not help your company.    

MYTH: Millennials job tenure is shorter that previous generations

Reality: Millennials job tenure is no shorter than that of previous generations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics millennials are leaving at about the same rate as Generation X.

Why does it seem like a bigger problem? Frankly there are more Millennials in the workforce than there were Generation X.  Additionally, you have a large number of Baby Boomers retiring so the over-all turnover rate is higher ( job hopping plus, those retiring, plus those you fire, equals the turnover rate.)     

MYTH: You can NOT Control Turnover or Job-Hopping

Many leaders believe they can’t control turnover so they should not spend time or resources to try to minimize the situation. This belief only serves leaders from taking responsibility for the turnover/ job hopping problem at their company.

Myth: There is NO link between Job Hopping and Employee Engagement

Realities: Happier employees are more productive employees, productive teams and more loyal employees.

Related Content: Myths, Misconceptions and Truths About Millennials in the Workforce

millennial job hopping in the workforceA Gallup poll reported that companies with an engaged workforce see:

            * 20% Higher sales

            * 21% higher overall profitability

            * 10% higher customer ratings

            * 70% lower safety incidents

            * 40% lower quality defects

            * 67% lower turnover

            * 41% lower absenteeism  

Highly engaged organizations:

            * Hold their managers accountable for measured engagement

            * Ensure that managers are engaging new employees

            * Have well defined development plans for every level in the organization

            * Employee engagement is a valued people strategy

            * Understand that engagement starts at the top

Why is There a Job Hopping Problem?

why is there a job hopping problemThere are a number of factors that have led up to job hopping.

Of the four major generations in the workforce the two that are more likely to job hop are the newest generations – Generation X and Generation Y (Millennial).   The Generation X employee ( those born between 1965-1980) and the Millennial generation ( those born between 1981- 2000) are very different than previous generations. One interesting statistic from my generations research suggests that 38% of GenXers, keep their resume “updated and ready” for any new job opportunities.

Additionally GenXers are not afraid to start their own company… and many have. However the Generation Y or Millennial Generation has brought job hopping to a whole new level. The research statistics indicate that 79% of Millennials believe they will have 2-10 different employers in their career. 

Generation Y or the Millennial Generation has brought job hopping to a whole new level. The research statistics indicate that 79% of Millennials believe they will have 2-10 different employers in their career. Click To Tweet

One Organizational Shift Changed Employee Mindsets about Loyalty

millennial job hopping employee mindsetWhy are today’s employees looking for better opportunities? One early shift started with the Baby Boomers. In the 1980’s companies started downsizing and outsourcing internal jobs…eliminating non-essential employees.  Led by key companies like Pepsi-Cola, AT&T, Kodak, Delta Airlines, IBM and General Mills… companies  were looking at leaner ways of doing business and re-structuring internal process and procedures.

These companies focused on maximizing efficiency by outsourcing non-core functions. They also started to use part-time employees verses the full time employee. This started a nation-wide ripple effect. 

 In addition, the onset of the personal computer and technology advances started streamlining business activities. The end result, companies started laying off long term Boomer employees. The business work environment was no longer a “cradle to grave” situation, where an employee worked at one company for their whole working life.

The signal was clear…employers were no longer “loyal” to their employees. Employees who had been working at a job for 10-15 years ( sometimes longer)  were kicked out and had to find new work opportunities. In many cases these displaced workers were forced to start new careers. 

The end result…. these bitter, job seeking Boomer parents (many in their 40’s and early 50’s)  communicated to their children that companies were no longer loyal to the employee and to start looking out for themselves. Do not trust the company you work for and to look out for what is best for you, was their message. The days of the “gold watch” and “retirement parties” were a thing of the past.    

The Children (Generation X – of older boomers) and (later Generation Y- of younger Boomers)  saw their parents struggle in looking for new work. The home life was disrupted. This was coupled with the high 50% divorce rate with Boomers. The children saw one and in may cases two parents struggle to make ends meet in looking for work. 

These newer generations saw their Boomer parents “settle” for a job that was not their first choice, or “settle” for an unhealthy or even hostile work environment (especially for their moms). They witnessed many sacrifices made by their parents to achieve security at home which had a huge impact on them. It was engrained to look for the right job, the right fit. And to take care of yourself. Family and friends are their new priorities, not blind careerism.

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Who are the Current Job Hoppers?

Gen X’ers and Millennials

According to Fast Company job hopping has doubled in the past 20 years and women  more frequently than men. According to SHRM research, one in fifteen women say that women are more likely to job-hop over men. These job hopping women will leave to find another company or to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavors.

Why Do Women Job-Hop More than Men? 

Gen X and Millennial women’s moms, the Baby Boomer women went to college in unprecedented numbers. Many went back to school so they could support themselves and in many cases the children also. This heavy burden pushed women to increase their level of education to make them a more desirable candidate in the workforce, and more eligible for promotions.

Additionally, with equal right legislation, affirmative action and NOW ( National Organization For Women), Boomer women had high expectations. They believed that they could break through the glass ceiling of white, male dominated corporate hierarchies and soar to new heights.

Boomer parents instilled a belief that their daughters would inherit a world of unlimited workplace opportunities. These young women would enter the workplace as equals, have the ability to climb the corporate ladder, and should therefore dream big.   

Note: Men are more likely to job hop or leave a company because they are seeking more money or a promotion, while women are more likely to leave due to company culture, employer or a change in their personal life.

Why are more women job hopping? Unmet expectations, The Good 'Ol Boys Club, Sexual Harassment, Salary Disparity and Work-Life Balance. Click To Tweet

Why are Women Job Hopping?

  1. Unmet Expectations

Parents and university counselors promised exciting, high paying jobs with good grades and a college degree. Women entered the workforce and didn’t find the excitement, purpose, high paying jobs, or fulfillment they expected.  Women are not focused on feeding their egos as much as feeling a sense of job satisfaction.

  1. The “Good Old Boys Club”

Women believed that the “good old boys club” mentality was dead and they would enter into a level playing field. They were wrong! As a result, women are leaving the workplace due to subtle discrimination and the inability to get ahead.

  1. Sexual Harassment

Legislation didn’t make sexual harassment disappear. A recent EEOC study found that 1 in every 4 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. 1 in 3 women between the ages of 18-34 have been sexually harassed.  Sexual harassment includes unwanted/ unwelcome verbal/ physical force, lewd jokes, gender-based slurs, or sexual contact from another sex. 51% were harassed by a supervisor, and 27% were harassed by an employee senior to them.

Educated women are not spared, according to a recent Cosmopolitan survey, 45% of women with a bachelor’s degree and 19% with a graduate degree were harassed. Another 29% had at least some college.  The EEOC study found that even with the “me too” movement 75% of women who spoke up about about the harassment, faced retaliation.  The result….women are irritated by the hostile work environments and sexual harassment with no recourse but to leave. 

  1. Earnings

According to the U.S Department of labor the average woman still earns $.80 to the $1.00 of a man. And in many cases, men with lower education levels and fewer years of experience still earn $10,000 more a year than women.

As women continue to fight for gender equality, job hopping is one strategy to help them get to where they want to be professionally.

  1. Work-Life Balance

Some women are reporting that they are more likely to switch jobs or start their own company because they are trying to balance work-life issues around children. It is interesting to note that women job hopping is not just entry level positions. My research revealed that women holding positions of Vice President, Executive Vice President, as well as Medical Doctors, and Lawyers, said that working long hours is not worth the personal sacrifice, so they switch into a job that is more “flexible and work-hours friendly.”

One woman in my study was a waitress at a high-end restaurant. Today she runs her own $75 million dollar trucking company. Another women told me she left her job to start her own trenching company. Today, while raising 8 children, she runs a $250 million dollar business! These are not isolates cases, I have interviewed close to 200 of these trailblazers. Other examples include: Molly Maid, Source Books Publishing, and Cookies by Design.

The Important Role of Women 

From Rosie the Riveter to Maggie the Manager

During Word War II, women on the home front kept the factories running and the war effort strong. Today, women account for 54.6% of the workforce! Keeping your female worker might be the key to the success of your company. Just as “Rosie the Riveter” kept the WWII effort going… keeping your Gen X and Millennial women could be the critical element that keeps corporate America healthy.   

Why Do Millennials Job Hop?

New Generations… New Values…. New Views of the Work Environment 

The key message to newer generations is clear….Be loyal to your values, and dreams. Look for the opportunities that cross your path. And find the right “fit.”

Outdated Technology

Boomers are very naive when it comes to technology. In general they approach technology with caution. Gen Xer’s are aware of technology, but many still lack advanced computer skills. Gen Y ( Millennials) are computer savvy. They love technology and are quick to learn new applications. Outdated technology at work is one reason why your Gen X or Millennial will leave your company. Millennials expect to have the technology tools they need to do their best work, and become frustrated when they are not available. Unfortunately, as I pointed on in my article on Millennials in the Workforce,  54% report that managers do not understand HOW millennials use technology at work. 

            * 59% use their home computer and transfer their work to computers at work

            * 41% prefer the speed of electronic communication

            * 60% report that outdated technology at work prevents them from doing their best work 

            Bottom Line: Millennials believe that outdated technology prevents their effectiveness at work.

View of Work

Boomers lived to work. Boomers identified with what they did and who they worked for. In many cases the Boomer sacrificed home life for work. Generation X work so they can live. Having experienced high divorce rates among their parents, the Gen X’er wants time to spend with family, and build strong family units. So their view of work was very different… work provided the money to live. Millennials view of work is vastly different.

They work because they want to make a difference. This is one of the major reasons for Millennial job hopping. How is the work they are doing contributing … making a meaningful contribution?  Companies who fail to make the link between what the employee does and how they are making a difference or meaningful contribution are likely to lose their employee to another company. 

For example one Millennial in my recent motivation study told me that she got a degree in marketing… but she will not work in a marketing position for just any company. She tried out two companies after college.  The first one was for a consultant whose personal values were shady, and did not align with hers… so she left. Her second job  was for a bread company. She just couldn’t get motivated to market their dinner bun line of products. She ended up taking less money and is very happy marketing for a non-profit agency that helps veterans. “I wanted to feel as if I was making a difference… those other companies just didn’t do it for me.”   

For a better understanding of the characteristics of each generation and what has changed read my article on Millennials in the Workplace.

Outdated Hiring Process

Part of the problem is in the hiring process. It is key for hiring mangers and HR professionals to look for alignment of skills sets, desires and job assignment. It is key to select the “right people for the right job.

job hopping millennials lies and truthsRecently I was brought into a company to determine why one training manager (Sam) had such a high turnover rate. He was either firing employees or his employees just quit. Sam was looking to fire one of his newer customer service trainers, Dan. I was told that Dan kept receiving negative reviews from students that he was boring, monotone, and did not interact well with the employee’s during his class.

Upon reviewing Dan’s resume I noticed he had an undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Finance. I suggested to Sam that instead of firing this employee, Dan should be transferred to the Finance Department. Dan was thrilled with the transfer, and once in  that environment, he flourished. Within two years Dan became one of the managers.

Many times hiring managers, like Sam, look for “potential” of an employee instead of looking at “right fit.”  Managers must ask, “does this potential employee have the right skills”  to do the job? Do they have the experience, or education, or transferable skills to do the job?  Does this person share our corporate vision and corporate values?        


job hopping millennials want respectRespect is an area that is often misunderstood and causes friction. Boomers believed that respect was “automatic,” based on age, position in the company, status, length of service, etc. So the Boomer freely gave respect, no questions asked. Gen X’ers are more cautious about respect. The GenX’er experienced the Catholic Church scandal, the Challenger Disaster, and the Columbine shootings. These events brought doubt, about respect. Priests, scientists, and teachers, all who should be respected, were now in question. For Gen Xers giving respect… they are cautions. Millennials believe respect is a two way street. You need to respect them for what they bring to the job, if you in turn want respect. In addition, one of the core values for the job hopping Millennial is integrity and honesty. If you want respect from a Millennial… you need to walk the talk!

Many talk a good game, but they do not follow through. Respect and trust is a two way street. It is not years of service, or title, or position in the company, or degrees after your name, it is how you interact with others. Respect in how you talk to others, but also how you talk ABOUT others. Trusting relationships are transparent and respectful. Demonstrating respect by listening to employees concerns. Also asking employees for their opinions and ideas on problems. 

If Millennials feel leaders and managers do not demonstrate respect to employees… they will look for another company to work for.

Salary and Benefits

Does your company offer a competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits plan?  Many millennials are struggling with school debt and are looking for companies that can help with tuition assistance, and 401(k) matching. Work life balance is important. Millennials look for flexible starting and ending workday schedules and the ability to work form home.    

Avoid The Common Error in Trying to “Fix the Problem”

The danger, is that you panic trying to fill open positions, and you lower the standards a little. That in turn makes the organization seem less elite or attractive. So instead of getting the best and the brightest, you end up getting the best of what is left over. 

Tips to Stop Job Hopping

5 tips to stop millennial job hoppingFirst: one of the biggest tips is to hire good candidates! According to the Harvard Business Review 80% of turnover is due to poor hiring decisions! What went wrong? Typically there are two major issues: 1) the new hire did not have the skills match needed for the job, and 2) lack of clarity on performance objectives. Companies must start hiring for “good fit.” 

According to Gallup when the hire is a good match the company will experience

            * 41% decrease in absenteeism

            * 17% increase in productivity

            * 21% increase in profitability 

            * 59% DECREASE in Job Hopping and Turnover!   

Second: What is in your recruiting strategy? The old methods no longer work well. For millennials it is all about relationship building. Relationship building starts from the first interaction with the possible recruit.

Third:  What is your interviewing strategy? Are you using a behavioral based interview process? Are you using peers in a team interview process (to help build early workplace relationships.  Are you making it clear how the recruits new job fits into the big picture. How they will be making a difference or contribution to the organization/ department/ team. 

Fourth: What is your on-boarding  strategy? The old HR benefits talk is not on-boarding. With today’s workforce on-boarding starts with the new manager and some of the new hires peers. Again it is all about building those relationships early.  

While these are all good ideas the underlying problem is bigger.

Fifth: Understanding The Bigger Issue

The most important key to stop job hopping is company culture!

Why Do People Want to Work for You?

Gallup research supports my own research that the bigger problem is one of corporate culture- or perceived culture.  Why do people WANT TO WORK FOR YOU? There needs to be a message and culture that makes people think I want to be part of that organization.

millennial job hopping and corporate cultureDoes the company walk the talk?

Is the corporate culture rigid or flexible?

Are there strong diversity policies?

Is there earnings equality?

Are opportunities available for ALL employees regardless of race, gender or sexual tendencies?

71% of new hires use referrals to learn about an organizations culture BEFORE THEY accept the job offer or in many cases apply for an opening, and in some cases show up on the first day of work!

Based on my 3,000 Millennial workplace study, 36% will leave based on corporate culture, and 25% will NOT even apply to a company with a poor culture.

Corporate culture includes fun. Do your employees have fun at work? I do not mean having pool tables or basketball courts. Is there laughter at work? Are there company traditions that are celebrated like a halloween party? When milestones are met is pizza or breakfast brought in? Does the company actively support a charity? Do employees feel like they are on a team… that everyone is working together for a common goal? Are appreciation systems evident?  FYI: It is not the old “employee of the month.” But a system so employees know that they are valued and appreciated. Is your corporate culture one that you would want to work in?

When expectations are not being met…. the Millennial will look for another opportunity.

A good corporate culture is built on a foundation of TRUST… 50% will leave for a lack of trust.

When the business focus is on building a great culture, the employees thrive, your business thrives, and new employees want to work for you.      

ONLY YOU can stop the brain drain and retain the best and the brightest of these newer generations.

Improve your culture…..stop the job-hopping and  improve your bottom line!

human resources trainingCall Deanne Demarco for advice on how to stop Millennial Job Hopping

Deanne Demarco is a business culture strategist who works individually with companies who are looking for current in-depth information, practical strategies and proven solutions that human resources leaders and managers face in today’s multi-generational workforce.

Her survey of 3,000 Millennials in the Workplace gives her unmatched insights into how to reduce Millennial Job Hopping. She has worked with large and small employers to reduce the cost of hiring and replacing millennials, which begins before the new job is even posted.

Her speeches and workshops are designed to do that with humor, rich facilitated discussions, case studies and the latest understanding of employee engagement, motivation, and collaboration. – She helps you to energize your team, create those ah-ha moments, adjust a few attitudes , and work through ideas and approaches that are best suited to meet your organization’s needs.

Human Resources Management Training

Call Deanne today at 708-836-0118 or e-mail Deanne@DeanneDeMarco.com for more information on how she can help your organization create a corporate culture Where People Want to Work!

Deanne DeMarco: Business Culture Strategist, Author, Generation Gaps: Manage and Communicate Effectively