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Millennials Don't Job Hop as much as You Think They Do


Joanna Dodd Massey Ph.D., MBA


career and workplace

With over 25 years of experience in the media industry at companies, such as Conde Nast, Lionsgate, CBS, Viacom, Discovery and Hasbro, Joanna Dodd Massey, Ph.D., MBA is a C-level communications executive and Board Director. She has managed brand reputation, corporate turnaround, crisis communications and culture transformation. Currently, Dr. Massey is a communications consultant, as well as Founder & CEO of The Marketing Communications Think Tank. She is a corporate speaker and trainer, as well as author of the books, "Communicating During a Crisis," and "Culture Shock: Surviving Five Generations in One Workplace" (TVG Publishing, 2020).

Millennials have a reputation for job hopping, but Pew Research recently issued research to contradict that. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, in 2018, 70% of workers ages 22-37 (Millennials) had been at their jobs for 13 months or more. In 2002, 69% workers ages 22-37 (Gen Xers) had been at their jobs for 13 months or more. That means, Millennials are moving (or staying) at the same rate as Gen Xers. So why do they have a bad rap for bailing on corporate employers?


This is where having a doctorate in psychology comes in handy in my consulting work. As an expert in communicating with Millennial and Gen Z employees and consumers, the answer to why perception is different than reality has to do with psychology.


One of the reasons there is a perception that Millennials job hop is because we are in a tight labor market, so when a company loses a good employee, it’s costly and time consuming to replace them, which didn’t used to be the case. This creates the sense that it is a bigger deal (misinterpreted as it is happening more often).


Another reason is that Millennial employees will leave a cushy corporate job for a 10% salary increase, a cool perk, or for equity in a startup, which corporate America isn’t used to. The banks, media companies, and consulting firms no longer have the most desirable jobs. There has been a shift in desirable jobs due to Millennial attitudes towards work-life balance, so it seems like they’re leaving more quickly, but it could have more to do with the types of jobs they leave (traditional corporate jobs) and the types that they stick around for (tech and startup environment). Pew’s stats are very general, so it would be interesting to dig deeper into the data. Are Millennials at big banks leaving at a higher rate than Gen Xers did at the same age, while Millennials at startups and tech companies are sticking around longer? 


Also, an interesting fact: Silent Generation and Baby Boomer workers aren’t retiring at 65 so it is squeezing Gen Xers and Millennials, who are getting stuck in mid-level jobs and need to move up in order to afford their growing lifestyles with families, homes, medical bills, etc. This causes job hopping. Many large, multinational companies have gotten adept at allowing employees to move between divisions and disciplines in order to keep them in the corporate family (accounting for the statistics supporting less job hopping).

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