The days of staying at a job for 20+ years are over. Being agile has become the new normal, with employees constantly looking for something better – whether that be new opportunities, more growth, higher salaries, or simply better work-life balance.
While this mindset is far from new, the pandemic has played a pivotal role in fast-tracking its spread, resulting in workers seriously re-evaluating their lives and careers. People aren’t willing to waste their time at a job that doesn’t fulfill their passion and purpose any longer – hence The Great Resignation.
Young workers are the driving force of agility and talent mobility, with employees under the age of 34 changing jobs most frequently (an average of 1.2 years for employees aged 20–24 and 2.8 years for those aged 25-34 in 2022) and doing so more often than ever. It signals a shift in how workers see their careers. Gone are the traditional models of working where a company dictates an employee’s progression. People want autonomy and to take control of their own careers.
With retention being a high priority for organizations today, the question now becomes – how can organizations support employees to fulfill their agility and mobility needs – without losing them completely?
Changing Your Mindset on Agility
For decades, employees who jump from role to role are often seen as a red flag for recruiters, associating them with unreliability, lack of loyalty, and lack of perseverance. Of course, a lot of the stigma that comes with this is also linked to the frustration of investing time, money, and effort in hiring a person, only for them to leave within a few months.
While these concerns are valid, employers are now needing to adapt to the changing work environment and accommodate the evolving needs of workers. Gary Travis, founder of BloomingBound says HR leaders are missing the key reasons why employees are switching roles more frequently:
If an employee is job-hopping, it indicates something is wrong with the previous company, not the employee. Employees don’t leave jobs where they are being compensated fairly, they have growth opportunities, and the culture is healthy. Employers are always doing what’s best for the company, so employees should do what’s best for themselves too. If you don’t take care of your employees, they will find another company that will.
Given the strong prevalence of agility today, employers are slowly becoming more accepting of employees with multiple companies on their resumes. It’s now seen as a sign of diverse experience and a wealth of knowledge, rather than unreliability.
Instead of focusing on the fact that an employee has changed jobs frequently over their career, employers must ask why? Digging deeper into why they left their previous roles will give you better insight into what they value in a job and what’s important to them, enabling you to better understand what can make them stay.
It’s Time to Build Career Portfolios
In this day and age, careers aren’t the typical linear path that we’ve been used to seeing in the past. People are straying from the traditional career ladder and embracing what Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis call ‘squiggly careers’ – one that is driven by change, uncertainty, and is full of possibilities.
These types of careers are a reality for most people today as technology continues to change the career landscape and work becomes less predictable. It’s important to note that squiggly careers aren’t simply moving from role to role without purpose. It’s about embracing growth, learning, and prioritizing personal development over the confines of a stagnant role. It gives employees the ability to make career choices that facilitate their growth in a way that is satisfying and exciting to them.
HBR suggests HR leaders should implement a career portfolio approach that removes the focus on career ladders, and instead allows employees to curate their own portfolios. Organizations that are moving towards this approach no longer see talent based on their roles, but as individuals with an array of skills, talents, and experiences that can be harnessed to do so much more.
Investing in the growth of your employees elevates your entire talent ecosystem. And when done the right way, this approach unlocks the doors to increased internal mobility, purposed learning, stronger development, and ultimately a more passionate workforce.
Encourage Internal Mobility and Development Opportunities
Employees are craving new opportunities and growth experiences, so why not give it to them? With 50% of employees stating that it is easier to find a role outside their organization than internally, it’s no wonder why resignation rates are at an all-time high.
An internal mobility strategy is essential in offering development opportunities that give employees a chance to expand their skill sets and progress their ‘squiggly careers’. Fuel50’s Global Talent Mobility Research highlights the importance of providing employees a clear development path to retain talent:
There is a real need for organizations to review and improve their internal mobility practices to support the retention of their talent. Employees leave organizations when they do not see a clear developmental path, and they go to organizations where they can see a clear path forward.
It offers employees the ability to be agile within your organization, giving them a sense of freedom to ‘test’ out different roles across different departments, all while building their career portfolio and adding to their existing skill sets.
It’s now up to organizations to effectively support the development of their people, providing them with the right opportunities to keep them engaged, happy, and fulfilled. William Tincup, President & Editor of RecruitingDaily shares the same sentiment, saying “if you don’t set opportunities for your talent – then someone else will.”
People’s patience and attention spans are shorter than ever, and as the job market becomes increasingly competitive, organizations must prioritize the needs of employees today if they want to retain talent and maximize their workforce. The fact is employees will continue to change jobs until they find an organization that matches their needs, values, and priorities. The question is – will you be that organization?