New Study Debunks The Myth Of The Job-Hopping Millennial
Is it true that millennials are really just job-hopping?
A survey published by venture capital firm Accel Partners challenges the persistent myth which says that millennials are job-hoppers who lack the drive, ambition and hardworking ethic to stay in a job.
Findings show that nearly 90% of those surveyed said they would stay in a job for the next 10 years if they were guaranteed both annual raises and upward career mobility. Both are not unrealistic goals for someone who wants to dedicate themselves to their work. A lack of a pay rise after measured improvements in skills and performance would be unfair. And a lack of career progression – when you know you can achieve so much more – is demotivating and stifling.
Let’s abandon the job-hopping stereotype
The study’s authors highlight that the majority of survey participants would stay in their job for at least six years, while 77% would accept a reduction in their salary if they knew it would increase their job security. Indeed, a previous survey found that 87% of millennials said job security was a priority when looking for employment, more important than salary. Job security was also deemed far more crucial in considering a job than “purpose” or “flexibility”.
Job insecurity is prevalent for young people, which was not the case for the previous generation. Millennials are worried about getting a job that will enable them to pay off their burdensome student debt, not whether they are doing something they love (although this, of course, does also matter).
The lack of job security for millennials means that they’re giving up on the idea of owning a home or being able to retire. Both situations are much less certain for young people than it was for their elders when they were their age. In these financially unstable times, millennials want stability.
The myth of the job-hopping millennial has also been debunked by research published in February, underscoring that young people in the UK actually stay in their jobs for longer than previous generations. The results show that only 4% of people born in the mid-1980s moved jobs in the span of a year when they were in their mid-20s. This is half the rate of those born in the decade before them (Generation X).
This decline in job-hopping could be due to the psychological effects of the financial crisis. Bank of England governor Mark Carney said in a speech last year that:
“long after the original trigger becomes remote, perceptions endure, affecting risk perceptions and economic behaviour. Just like those who lived through the Great Depression, people appear more cautious about the future and more reluctant to take irreversible decisions.”
Where does this myth come from?
Attorney James Goodnow, co-author of Motivating Millennials, said:
“Many baby boomer executives think millennials are just cashing in on a short-term gig so they can scrape together enough money to go hike Mount Kilimanjaro or buy an unlimited annual skydiving pass.”
On the other hand, this generalisation doesn’t come from nowhere. I’ve certainly done jobs with the goal in mind of saving enough money to be able to travel. It’s true that millennials are obsessed with travelling. And many young people probably do job-hop as a way to feed that obsession (or passion, depending on how you look at it). But you cannot generalise a whole generation as job-hoppers just because that’s what some millennials are like. Moreover, when the travel bug passes – as it normally does – job security, rather than the amount of holiday, becomes priority.
The job-hopping stereotype is also strengthened by this idea that millennials are lazy, self-entitled and averse to hard work. The video of Simon Sinek ‘encapsulating’ millennials went viral, not because he was right, but because he was repeating stereotypes about millennials that are popular and widely believed. But in spite of Sinek’s assessment, millennials do not want everything handed to them on a silver platter in the workplace.
Sinek’s interpretation was not based on any research. It’s unjustified to paint a whole generation with such a broad brush. When we actually look at the research – rather than regard cynical opinions about millennials as gospel – we can see that young people have rational and sensible career development goals.