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Is Job-Hopping Hurting Employers and Employees?

Millennials are often saddled with a stereotype: they prefer to job-hop rather than devote themselves to a company.

Andrew Hill calls the practice of job-hopping being “portable.” Hill, the management editor for Financial Times, recently authored a piece discussing the practice of job-hopping and how ‘Portable’ leaders need people skills.

“The idea that promising staff can be shackled to their desks no longer reflects reality,” Hill says. “Both individuals and organizations need to adapt to a world of shifting loyalties.”

Businesses Adapt to Employee Turnover

Hill notes how many companies are reacting to the practice of job-hopping. Research shows that some of the most prestigious employers actually pay their staff less since they believe the training and “reflected glory” of the brand will make employees more marketable in the future.

Gianpiero Petriglieri

Gianpiero Petriglieri is an associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD. Petriglieri tells the Financial Times that companies are now starting to sell themselves as learning organizations, with “campuses” rather than offices. On the other hand, universities have become more corporate.

In an Administrative Science Quarterly study, Petriglieri observed 55 managers with mobile careers who were pursuing a one-year MBA at an unnamed top-tier business school. Petriglieri’s study found that the main reason why managers job-hop is to position themselves for “mobile careers in an uncertain world.”

“The crafting of portable selves helps people fit into and make the most of organizations that they might leave, allowing them to have a place while they continue to be going places,” Petriglieri writes.

Dangers behind being ‘portable’

Hill argues that job-hopping, or being ‘portable,’ poses a risk to both organizations and managers.

For organizations, he says, the risk is decreased investment into developing leaders and an increased focus of hiring “plug-and-play” executives at “ever-increasing cost.”

For managers, the risk is not being able to connect with the companies they’re jumping to.

“That is why people who develop future leaders have a duty also to teach them the relationship skills that will make them personable as well as portable,” Hill says. As Gianpiero Petriglieri puts it: “If all we provide is another bubble, then we have failed.”

Sources: Financial Times, Administrative Science Quarterly

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