Job Hopping No Longer a Dirty Word

What you can do to stop your great employees from jumping ship.

By Beth N. Carvin, President and CEO, and Kerrie Main, Communications Director, Nobscot Corporation

Employee loyalty is dead. Job hopping now is widely accepted (sometimes even encouraged), and it’s turning into an expensive problem for organizations. It wasn’t always this way—traditionalists were one-company “lifers,” and Baby Boomers were instilled with the fear that switching companies too often would label them as “job hoppers” and make them unhireable. But in today’s business world, Gen X and Y employees—the majority of the workforce—feel no guilt in moving from job to job, and they don’t feel obligated to stay at their organizations for the long haul.

Some believe the shift in work culture was triggered when organizations eliminated pension plans and introduced the transferable 401k retirement option. Others think that younger workers, accustomed to living their lives at Internet speed, are simply too impatient to “pay their dues” and want instant career gratification. Some place the blame on corporations that do not nurture “disposable” employees. Undoubtedly, the change can be traced to all of these factors and more.

For whatever reason, the new generation of employees does not fear being blackballed as “job hoppers” when they apply for other positions, and, therefore, don’t think twice about leaving their jobs within the first two years of employment if better opportunities arise. This lack of long-term commitment to the organization, beyond doing a good job in the here and now, can have drastic consequences for HR practitioners tasked with maintaining reasonable rates of employee turnover.

The Cost of Job Hopping

“Quick quits,” employees who leave within 90 days, and early turnover, when employees leave their organizations within two years, is expensive. Over the last decade, the typical rates of voluntary turnover have hovered around 16.6 percent. This means that on average, employees stayed at their organizations roughly six years. At this rate, an organization with 2,500 employees would lose approximately 415 employees per year and spend more than $2 million each year (using the average cost of replacement at a conservative $5,000 per termination) replacing the employees.

When new employees leave at the one- or two-year point, rather than the six-year threshold, the cost dramatically increases. If all employees left this quickly, turnover skyrockets from less than 17 percent to 50 to 100 percent. The same company of 2,500 employees would lose between 1,250 and 2,500 employees each year at a cost of more than $6.25 million. This threatens to become a significant financial disaster, which could become unsustainable for organizations that are not prepared, and for which HR and Training and Development managers are going to be held responsible.

Solutions—Creating a Committed Workforce

While employees used to stay at their companies out of fear and a sense of responsibility, the lure of job hopping is ingrained in younger employees’ minds. HR and Training and Development managers can work to prevent it by reducing irritations, providing proper training, and working to ensure new employees are acclimated to the company culture quickly.

New Hire Surveys

One popular tool to accomplish these goals is new hire surveys. There are several different types and uses for them:

  • Expectation surveys measure if the new hire’s expectations match up with the actual job. They usually are conducted immediately after the new hire orientation or a few days after the employee starts the job.
  • Recruitment auditing surveys focus on the new hire’s recruitment process, from the interview to the job offer. They usually are conducted between 30 and 45 days after the employee starts the job.
  • Initial onboarding and training surveys measure how the overall training and assimilation is going. They usually are conducted between 45 and 60 days after the employee starts the job.
  • New hire experience surveys focus on several aspects of the new hire’s experience, from recruiting to training. They usually are conducted around the employee’s 90-day mark.
  • Early socialization surveys are conducted after the 90-day mark, and employers can gain a sense of the new hire’s intent to stay (or leave) with them.
  • Full socialization surveys are conducted at the six-month mark. Typically, if the employee is happy and satisfied at this time period, he or she will stay with the company for at least another two years.

Exit Interviews

Another effective tool is exit interviews. Organizations can survey their resigning employees to see why exactly they are leaving—to pursue a more advanced job, to get a higher salary, etc. Companies that use technology-based exit interviews can aggregate the data to view it by tenure, department, gender, etc., to see why different employee segments are leaving.

Mentoring Programs

Mentoring programs are proven ways to keep quality employees engaged and happy, as they feature the benefits of career development, promotions, visibility within the organization, and increased salaries. Mentoring has been positively linked with employees’ increased commitments to their organizations, and it allows junior employees to build strong internal ties to their companies.

While job hopping is no longer the career kiss of death, HR does not have to just accept it. There are many tools and strategies available to combat it in your organization and make your company a place where employees feel valued and accepted…and don’t want to leave!

Beth N. Carvin is president and CEO of Nobscot Corporation (www.nobscot.com), a provider of online HR tools and associated services designed to generate actionable information that can assist companies in combating turnover, improving hiring practices, and recovering from downsizing. Kerrie Main is Nobscot’s Communications director. Carvin can be reached at bncarvin@nobscot.com, and Main can be reached at kerrie.main@nobscot.com.

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