Stop blaming Millennials: Job hopping explained

Here’s how companies can get ahead of the job hopping trend

Avatar photo
By Melanie Pasch

While Gallup has dubbed Millennials “the Job-Hopping Generation,” could it be that they are a victim of circumstance?

“A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same. Gallup estimates that millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.”

The costs of employee turnover are increasingly high – as much as 250% of  an employee’s salary depending on the role, not to mention the accompanying “soft costs” like lowered productivity, decreased engagement, training costs and cultural impact. There’s no doubt that the effects of job hopping are devastating to organizations.

Why are Millennials so likely to job hop?

Gallup points to low engagement in the workplace as the reason for Millennial job hopping.

“They found that only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, in other words, only about 3 in 10 are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company.

Another 16% of millennials are actively disengaged, meaning they are more or less out to do damage to their company. The majority of millennials (55%) are not engaged,” Gallup finds.

“It’s possible that many millennials actually don’t want to switch jobs, but their companies aren’t giving them compelling reasons to stay. When millennials see what appears to be a better opportunity, they have every incentive to take it. While millennials can come across as wanting more and more, the reality is that they just want a job that feels worthwhile — and they will keep looking until they find it.”

Are Millennials really the problem?

Larry Alton makes the case in Forbes that Millennials aren’t job hopping more than previous generations did when they were the age of most Millennials.

In other words, young people job hop and Millennials are currently young people.

“Pew Research attempted to compensate for this difference with a recent study comparing data of modern Millennials (circa 2016) to their Gen X counterparts, when they were of the same age (circa 2000). According to that study, the percentage of 18- to 35-year-old employees who stayed with their employers for 13 months or more was 63.4% for Millennials in 2016 and 59.9% for gen Xers in 2000. On top of that, the percentage of the same groups who had been with their employers for five years or more were 22% for Millennials in 2016 and 21.8% for gen Xers in 2000. The effect was even more pronounced among college-educated groups,” Alton writes.

In other words, compensating for the age discrepancies, this research shows that Millennial turnover (rate of job hopping) is similar to or even slightly better than Generation X before them.

This points to the conclusion that companies should focus less on assessing and lamenting the job hopping status quo of the largest generation in the workforce and instead start changing the factors that promote this behavior.


Squashing job hopping across generations

The job hopper is not the only one to blame. There are undeniable benefits to individuals who seek opportunities outside their current place of work.

Workers who stay at a company for more than 2 years are said to get paid 50% less. This is why companies must go the extra mile to keep their employees satisfied and productive at their desks.

Squashing job hopping is another way of saying improve retention. This can be achieved by increasing employee engagement and learning and development, ultimately investing in employees’ careers and internal mobility.

A LinkedIn report found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Companies should take this seriously and provide structured talent mobility programs to channel their talent horizontally and vertically rather than out the door.

Increasing opportunities to learn and develop professionally is a top way to show employees that they are valued and should stick around.

After all, the three biggest objectives in job hopping are to advance one’s career, gain new skills, and increase compensation. If all three can be gained at their current company, there it’s more than a reasonable assumption that workers, Millennials included will stick around. The problem is that in the majority of today’s work environments, it’s far easier to achieve these three goals at a new company.



Instead of writing off Millennials as the problem, companies should realize that they are now the largest generation in the workforce and therefore have become the new norm. Companies must adjust their engagement and retention strategies accordingly to curate and maintain a productive workforce.

Gloat live On-Demand: 2 Days, 13 Sessions, 20 World Renowned Business Leaders

Watch now →