Talent Management in the Age of Job Hopping

The new market reality

The world of work is changing. The workplace, the workforce and even the nature of work itself are mutating. Gone are the days when an employee stayed with the company for his/her entire career. The gig economy, labour diversity, automation and technology are but a  few factors transforming the labour market.

Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Monster are changing the way individuals look for work and the way organisations define their talent acquisition strategy. Independent work and freelancing are increasingly being accepted as sustainable career paths.

The changing world of work

Job hopping is becoming a norm in many industries like Media & Entertainment, Professional Services and Technology. In fact, job hopping is happening across generations. However, as a number of different studies indicate, this phenomenon is most noticeable amongst the millennials. According to a  recent LinkedIn study, on a similar timescale of the first five years out of school, millennials job hopped 2.85 times compared to the Gen X’ers who switched jobs 1.6 times.

According to a 2016 Mercer survey, almost 30 percent of respondents reported that they were planning to leave their organisation, even though they were satisfied with the organisation. This is the new market reality and organisations need to re-think how to retain their workforce.

What does a job hopper want?

As an employee yourself, what is it that you want from your organisation? The list could be endless but let me mention the most common ones here – a sense of purpose, career & development opportunities, managerial quality, flexible work and compensation.

Regardless of where you are across the multi-generational spectrum, aren’t you aspiring for something similar, depending on your personal circumstance or risk appetite? And whenever there is an expectation mismatch, you make the tough call to move on.

However, jumping ship is not an easy decision for anyone. Hence, it’s pertinent to understand the reason triggering such action. Was it the overall experience, the line manager, your compensation or perhaps, something else? The impact on the organisation is not just limited to finding a replacement but also managing the impact of departure in relation to team morale.

How do you identify job hoppers in the recruitment process?

Interestingly, not every job hopper is a bad bet. You just need to be able to differentiate between a complacent and ambitious one. Typical characteristics of an ambitious job hopper include aspiration, result orientation, networking, learnability and excellence. Don’t you think this is pretty much what you look for in your high potentials?

So, when you hire an ambitious high potential job hopper, your main focus should be on getting the engagement drivers right. A clear understanding of their motivators would help identify critical turnover risk factors.

Besides understanding what a job hopper wants, it is important to understand the underlying cause of change. If it’s a serial job hopper, look carefully when the short stints occurred. Massive layoffs took place during the 2008 financial crisis – that could be a potential reason.

Candidates who move jobs frequently may do so because of a desire for geographic mobility or a lack of advancement opportunity – not necessarily poor performance or lack of loyalty. Focus also on reference checks – good references from three different employers are better than a single average reference for a long tenured role.

How do you manage job hopping and keep your key talent engaged and loyal?

With the diverse opportunities available in the market, your talent is ready to take the next job to either upgrade her skills, enhance her responsibility levels or seek exposure to new assignments. Why not then provide your ambitious key talent with an internal job hopping opportunity?

Retention is a by-product of development and engagement efforts and it begins with the identification of key talent. Just like any marketing campaign is designed to focus on customer segments, similarly, your retention strategy needs to be tailored to various key talent groups. Your key talent should comprise high potentials, high performers, critical/niche skill holders or specialists.

Here are four tips to keep your talent engaged.

1.Help your talent build critical experiences
Take a universal approach to developing your talent – do not limit it to special hi-potential (“HiPo”) cohorts. There is no denying that your HiPos would expect and should be provided with opportunities for accelerated development to enable them to be future ready for leadership positions. Regular career dialogues and flexible career planning are some of the ways to gain critical experiences for reaching desired strategic leadership roles. However, you should not forget your high performers and specialist talent along the journey. Probably a differentiated rewards strategy and expanded scope of work are what would work for these cohorts.

Employees generally leave because of a lack of opportunity.

So, how strong is your internal job rotation programme?
Do employees have visibility of the career maps or prospective career progression model?
Are they building skills for tomorrow?

2.Hire your talent for culture fit and potential
For long term engagement, hire not just for skills but for culture fit and potential as well. For existing employees, conduct regular focus groups, stay interviews and engagement surveys to proactively identify problem areas before they surface. Leverage talent analytics to identify trends and take corrective measures.

You may find the trends could be related to a specific department, manager or skill group. Employees feel engaged when they know their organisation and leadership is invested in them and they see meaningful actions culminating from it.

3.Provide your talent with a transparent culture
In the tech age, consumers are used to dropping a simple tweet or a Facebook comment to get a speedy resolution to product or service complaints. Are your employees any different? Does your organisation provide such platforms wherein employees can voice their opinion?

The happiness index or employee engagement scores make sense to employees only when they see meaningful actions culminating from the exercise. They want to be kept in the loop. How transparent are you in sharing internal job opportunities? This can help you nurture your own internal talent factory. But it requires a culture where the current manager is ready to release the resource comfortably. How integrated is your talent management to balance the demand and supply internally?

4.Conduct stay interviews
Your job hopping generation loves real time feedback. So, are you still sticking with the traditional annual appraisal cycle for performance feedback? Or is performance feedback shared real time but development or career dialogues done in quarterly/half yearly cycles?

This new generation is generally more exposed to worldly affairs because of the internet, the fact that they have travelled more and are seeking international experiences. So, if you are a multi-national, how well have you weaved this into career dialogue platforms and opportunities? You can read more on this topic in my earlier article “What’s in it for me? A perspective on conversations vital for talent retention”.

There are many more approaches to help employees build that emotional connection with their organisation such as having a coaching mindset and increasing flexibility but the general idea is to have multi-pronged attraction and retention strategies which resonate well with the multigenerational workforce that forms the organisational DNA today.

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People-crowd-walking image courtesy Ingo Joseph via pexels.com

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