Is Millennial Job Hopping Bad for the Economy?

Young people are changing jobs. A lot. According to Dick Resch, a contributor to the News Herald, millennials are job hopping so often it’s costing the U.S. economy about $30 billion annually.

Forbes points to a similar statistic, writing that 21% of millennials reported switching jobs in the last year, over double the percentage of job switches among Gen Xers and other generations. However, contributor Larry Alton urges readers to remember that a few decades ago, twenty-somethings in the Gen X group were switching jobs at a similar pace. Alton cautions that it is unwise to label millennials as finicky workers, and says it’s more likely they are behaving as all young people do when searching for their own best career path.

Regardless of whether consistent job hopping is a millennial phenomenon or a symptom of youth, one thing is sure: young people are jumping from job to job constantly. In fact, the average 30-year old has already moved six times. What are the costs of such restlessness?

Besides draining the US economy of $30 billion, Recsh also points to the fact that every time a new employee quits, employers lose a portion of their salary. Not including the cost of recruiting and training replacement employees, for every lost worker, an employer loses about 20% of her annual salary.

Recsh urges companies to find ways to retain young workers, suggesting they create more flexible workspaces, foster more intimate worker-boss relationships, and that they give new workers consistent feedback.

However, Forbes argues that millennial job hopping is somewhat inevitable, given that previous generations of workers demonstrated the same trend. In fact, the article argues job changes can encourage healthy growth for both a person’s career and their mind. Some of the benefits of career-hopping, according to both Forbes and Entrepreneur.com, include:

  1. Gaining a greater variety of experience
  2. The chance to build a wider network of contacts
  3. The chance to define success on one’s own terms
  4. The freedom to leave for more exciting work and new challenges

Resch urges employers to “meet them where they are.” While retaining young people can seem like an essential task for employers, the gig economy is alive and well, and unemployment is low. In other words, retaining millennials might not be feasible.

Perhaps both young workers and employers should reevaluate what they’d like to gain from a work relationship. Employers may have to reevaluate what they value in a work culture, as well. For example, only 36% of employees find holiday parties fun. What kind of cultural events can employers change to help retain millennials? If both the young worker and the seasoned employer can learn from one another, then each can still successfully make a profit.

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