Is job loyalty in the US now only a ”fond” memory? Most of us can remember being advised by a parent or a school counselor while in college to: (a.) graduate first, (b.) get a job second, and (c.) stay in the same job until retirement and (d.) if you have to change jobs during your career, don’t change more than a couple of times or you will be seen as a ”flake.”
Have you heard anyone say that recently? I certainly have not.
The explanation of failed employee loyalty is obvious in our current highly competitive world market. The U.S. is no longer the world’s biggest producer of goods, so US Companies now compete worldwide and can no longer afford to keep employees when profits decline. Layoffs are routine, along with pay and benefit cuts. As a result, companies spend most of their time improving strategies for success and ensuring their shareholders of improvements. This leaves little time for improving employee and employer relations.
Likewise, employees have learned to reciprocate accordingly: company loyalty has deteriorated as employees watch their employers focus on profitability. Consequently, employer loyalty has been replaced with career loyalty. This survival mode is very similar to that of their former employers, who had to do what was best for their company.
Employees have accepted and understand that their success is totally dependent on themselves and most often view themselves as the ”CEO” of their careers who freely move from company to company as a career enhancement strategy.
Career loyalty is now the polite word for ”job-hopping.” It is accepted as the standard in today’s world where most people view with suspicion anyone who has worked at a company for more than five years. Most employees, particularly Millennials, believe that it is career limiting to stay with a company for more than two to three years.
Career loyalty (job hopping) is now common in most industries, but some employees, such as Engineers, often focus on changing jobs only after they have the skills needed to move to a higher position. Surprisingly, less than one-half of baby boomers plan to stay with their current employer more than three years.
Millennials on Career Loyalty
Continual changing of jobs began with the youngest employee group, the Millennials, and has now expanded across the US into almost all industries and age groups. Namely, a HR services software company, surveyed over 125,000 US employees and found that: ”the median tenure at a job for workers between ages 25 and 35 was 1.42 years; the median tenure for those between ages 35 and 55 was just under two years; and for those between ages 55 and 65, it was 2.53 years.”
Millennials are infamous for career loyalty and needing continual change and new environments; they are also educated, self-expressive, diverse, and many want to be famous. Most importantly, they are our future.
So, career loyalty or job hopping, or whatever you wish to call it, is likely to continue. Is there an opportunity for change, or at least improve retention rates? Yes, many HR experts and strategists believe that employers have brought about the ”career loyalty” phenomenon, and must find solutions to improve through successful Employee Engagement programs.
The lack of employee engagement in US companies has been a hot topic for discussion during the last ten years. It has marginally improved, but still, hovers around 87% of employees being inactively engaged at work. This equates to only 13% of employees actively willing to do their jobs and do them to the best of their abilities. Employment Engagement is worth the effort: companies that conquer employee engagement, report outperforming their peers by 147% on earnings per share.
Why would companies not want to implement employee engagement programs? Most companies make varying attempts at employee engagement, but the process is difficult, often expensive and requires active participation from executives. There are many programs and ideas on improving employee engagement, but it may be time for companies to ask employees what they want from their employer and what it will take to not only retain them but also increase their productivity and performance to superior levels.
Almost all employees will gladly share their thoughts and ideas on how to improve their workplace – if you ask them – and if you follow through with their ideas and suggestions. Otherwise, they may continue to search for their ideal employer and it will not be your company.
There are also various consultants and thought leaders who have done extensive work around employee retention and gladly share their data. For instance: Aon shared that a strong differentiation occurs when ”companies are fun, have flexible workplaces and have clearly defined opportunities to develop employee careers.” They have data that clearly states that companies who consider what employees want in their Total Rewards Program win when they are marketing this program to employees. Also, Aon shares an idea that’s been around many years: employees want better communications that are authentic and hyper-relevant to employees.
This communication is much more effective when it is delivered through a variety of channels that best reach their employees. This is common sense, as are most of the suggestions for improving employee engagement, retention, productivity and performance. However, talking about it with no or little actions continues to send a strong message to employees that their employer has more important things to do than listening and take action on their suggestions for improved retention.