Why People Go Job-Hopping
A new study finds that the conventional wisdom about what motivates job seekers is all wrong.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you might be leaving a job for the wrong reasons.
In a year when conventional wisdom seems to be constantly shifting, it appears that long-held beliefs about employees are also eroding. For years, corporations have been developing employee-retention programs around three principals:
- Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.
- An employee with a best friend at work is less likely to quit.
- Employees stay at a company when they believe in its mission.
Yet, according to a new study by the Addison Group:
Only 17 percent of job seekers said they were looking for a new job because they didn’t like their manager.
Most job seekers are more interested in finding a fresh challenge than in staying with the same manager. According to the study, 40 percent of job seekers are looking for a new challenge and 37 percent are seeking a change of pace. The results are based on a 20-minute online survey of 1,000 full-time and part-time U.S. employees in white-collar positions.
These changes in employee attitudes are being driven by a bullish economy and a tight market for talent, says Steve Wolfe, Addison Group’s executive vice president of operations and administration. Job candidates are shifting their perspective from loyalty to the company to inner loyalty, he says. “They only have to open a job board, LinkedIn or Glassdoor to find there are other opportunities.”
Only 17 percent of job seekers said they were looking for a new job because they don’t like their co-workers.
Most job seekers are more interested in earning more money than in finding a friend at work. According to the study, 52 percent of job seekers are looking for a new job to increase their salary or compensation.
One reason for a diminished emphasis on friendships on the job is the increased amount of movement in the workplace, particularly with millennials, Wolfe says. When millennials feel that someone at work is not helping them advance their career, they typically leave the company after two years, he says. It’s less about having friends at work and more about whether someone at work is helping a colleague move forward in his or her career.
Only 16 percent of job hunters said they are motivated to leave because they don’t agree with the mission.
Most job seekers view their job not as a mission but as a means of earning a paycheck. According to the study, 84 percent of active job seekers say their job is “just a job.”
“The way people think about their careers is changing,” Wolfe says. “And, if as an organization you don’t change your thinking, it could become more challenging to retain people.”
In the past, most employees didn’t leave a company unless they were getting a 15 to 20 percent bump in salary, but now people are leaving because they’re bored with their work or to gain a small increase in salary, says Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist and author of the forthcoming Bring Your Human to Work: Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business and Just Might Change the World (2018). The reason, she says, is we’re not as connected with our co-workers and managers as we once were because of our use of technology. For instance, if you’re always calling into meetings rather than attending them in person, you’re not meeting people at work. “Left to our devices, we don’t connect,” Keswin says, “which is why companies need to create these connections to retain people.”
The onus is on the organization to create opportunities for connections through physical space, by banning cellphones at meetings or by sponsoring happy hours and events that are more interactive. “You might not think you’re looking for a best friend at work,” Keswin says, “but once you have those connections, it makes you want to go to work.”