At some point in the last 20 years, it became commonplace for employees to switch jobs every year or two. This remains exceptionally common in the tech field, which requires a dynamic and agile attitude from startups, major corporations and individual employees.
When I entered the digital publishing field fresh out of college with a BA in English back in 2003, I had a lot of loyalty to my employer, a Philadelphia-based self-publisher. When the production manager asked me where I saw myself in 10 years, my response was, "Running this company." That says less about my ambition than it does about my passion for digital publishing. In a common scenario, my position was outsourced a year later. I trained my replacement by phone and packed and shipped the files from my desk to the Philippines.
Due to that commitment to the field, I've had a few one-to-two-year stints at startups, academic publishers, e-mail marketing services and small business website developers in addition to my own freelance efforts. I enjoyed my time at those places, but found a lack of stability due to outsourcing, low pay and shutdowns/company sales. The years 2007-2012 were not exactly the best timespan for career advancement, especially when digital publishing was finding its legs while the economy collapsed.
I craved stability, but I loved the field even more. I believed — and still believe — that publishing isn't dead. It's just changed.
During my journey, I've encountered many of the issues faced by my younger counterparts. There are some major drawbacks to switching jobs every year or two.
In more stable times, companies should consider tackling these issues to lure those job jumpers who seek a more stable work environment.
Most employers in the U.S. offer health insurance to full-time employees, but it usually doesn't begin upon hire. If you're lucky, you get health insurance within the first month. While it is possible to apply for (and receive) healthcare through Healthcare.gov to cover you during your transition, it's hardly ideal for the typical scenario. Most employees give two weeks at their previous employer and then wait another four or more weeks to get insurance from their new employer.
Solution: Show your employees that their well-being is important. You're taking a risk on them, but they're taking a risk on you, too. Provide insurance within the first month of hire.
After about a year, an entry-level or mid-level employee might acquire one week of personal time. If they save it, they can use it — unless, of course, they take another job and the company wants them to cash it out instead of using it. Their new employer, of course, wants them in exactly two weeks from the offer's acceptance. This means employees can go several years without taking an actual vacation, leading to burnout at a new job before they even start.
Solution: Startup founder Jason Freedman started offering pre-cations to his new employees. Freedman reported that they showed up rather refreshed and open-minded. While this isn't feasible for every company, it is possible to consider some flexibility in a start date and let the new employee know that a few prep days are totally acceptable.
Employees and Personal Lives
In the past, I've advocated for extreme separation between work and personal life. Over time, I've come to realize that my personal brand and extracurricular interests are actually assets when the employer is the right fit. I work harder and more efficiently and put in more hours if given a bit of trust, flexibility and independence.
Everyone has a personal life, and it's ridiculous for employers to ignore this or treat safe-for-work extracurriculars as contrary to the success of the business.
Solution: A small, inexpensive, meaningful gesture could mean the world to your employee when it comes to making accommodations for their personal life. Your team may not be best friends, and you shouldn't force them to be, but permitting time throughout the day (even if scheduled) for personal matters will be greatly appreciated.
Like me, a lot of my friends are hitting the midway point in their careers. Pay isn't important to them because they're greedy, but because they want to enjoy life: time with family, hobbies and more.
While it might feel stable and loyal to be a long-term employee, studies show it doesn't work out in the employees' financial interests. The easiest way to get a pay raise is to head to another company.
Many of my peers throughout the country have received outrageous and negative reactions when they try discussing this with management; therefore, the least stressful solution for them seems to be to job hop.
Solution: Offer performance reviews and discuss pay with your employees on an individual basis. This shows an interest in employee career development and you'll learn why your employees are not engaged without conducting an extensive survey.
If your employees actually like their job field, continuing education is a huge part of that. Plus, educated employees add value to your company. Discouraging continuing education, both formal and informal, gives the employee the impression that you're not really invested in their career growth or success. If that's true, they have little incentive to stick around when they aren't learning more.
Solution: Not every company can afford to provide educational assistance for college courses, but it's enriching for enthusiastic employees to cross-train, attend conferences and advance in their field.
Employers: have you tried implementing any of these solutions at your organization? How did it work out? Employees: let us know all about your frustrations and what employers can do to help you feel more engaged at work.