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Does It Pay to Job Hop?

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Thu Sep 04 2014

Does It Pay to Job Hop?
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Do employees who stay at the same company for more than two years ultimately earn 50 percent less than their job-hopping peers? According to Cameron Keng, a contributor to Forbes, staying at the same job and receiving the typical yearly raise of about 3 percent is far less lucrative than changing jobs regularly and negotiating a higher salary with each switch.

Keng estimates that employees increase their salaries by about 10 percent on average when they change jobs. Those who remain in the same gig should “Keep in mind that 50 percent is a conservative number at the lowest end of the spectrum,” writes Keng. “This is assuming your career is only going to last 10 years. The longer you work, the greater the difference will become over your lifetime.”

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Keng’s Forbes article made big waves on social media. It’s been viewed by more than one million people, and has sparked serious discussion across multiple online platforms. And it’s doubtless causing many employees to glance around at other job opportunities—if not actively search for them.

More important, recent studies show that job hopping is indeed on the rise, and employers have shown themselves increasingly amenable to hiring those with a history of frequently changing jobs.

Managing turnover is consistently a top concern for organizations; many of which do not, for a variety of reasons, rapidly promote employees within their own ranks. And therein lies the problem. So how can companies hang on to employees once they hire them?

One of the branches of discussion stemming from Keng’s article concerns “inboarding”—a new buzzword that refers to the practice of creating internal development opportunities for employees. In another article for Forbes, contributors David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom called inboarding an “effective response” to turnover.

“It is the method through which organizations help their existing employees improve their necessary knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitude to grow within their own organization,” write Sturt and Nordstrom. “It’s not simply replacing one body for another in set positions (a.k.a ‘hiring from within’), but instead it is empowering employees to discover new paths within their organization.”

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Sturt and Nordstrom list ways to “rapidly develop” employees, so that they are inclined to stay with the organization.

  • Do as consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton does, and assign each business unit a recruiter who acts as a career coach for employees, helping them identify opportunities for growth within the organization.

  • Follow Google’s example and encourage employees to market themselves internally, competing for or creating new positions or roles.

  • Provide “strategic project opportunities.” These projects, such as market research or social responsibility initiatives, would ideally allow employees the opportunity to develop skills that they could then leverage for internal career changes. (Sturt and Nordstrom don’t mention this, but it’s worth keeping in mind that unless your employees have manageable workloads, they may not have the time or energy to take on extra projects, though they may want to.)

  • Create opportunities for employees to experience the impact of their work on the population they serve. For example, make sure positive customer feedback gets back to the employee responsible for it. Employees aren’t as mercenary as some may think. Research has shown that intrinsic motivators – such as doing good by others – can be as effective as extrinsic motivators like monetary compensation.

  • Promote camaraderie between employees. When employees genuinely enjoy each other’s company, it makes work much more pleasant.

  • Recognize employees’ accomplishments. Sturt and Nordstrom cite a survey of 100,000 managers and employees that revealed that 79 percent had left jobs in which they felt underappreciated.

One final point from Keng, which may be the best strategy to follow, when combined with the advice above: “Companies spend a lot of money to pay recruiters…conduct background checks and…hire and train new people. It’s always cheaper to just hire better people and pay them more.”

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