• Natalie Smith

Commitment Issues: The Generation of Job Hopping

Updated: Jul 12

A job hopper is an employee who spends one year or less on average

working at a company before leaving to join another. The millennial generation, those born from 1980 to 1996, has gained somewhat of a reputation for job-hopping as they have joined the American workforce.

Turn Over Rate

According to Gallup, a national analytics and polling company, this rise in turnover is costing the US economy roughly $30.5 billion dollars per year. With those types of numbers in mind, employers are bound to take note of this phenomenon and question why this is happening and if there is a solution to solving this problem.

High employee turnover is disrupting a company’s culture. Losing an employee can cause tension and questions around who is to pick up the responsibilities. In addition, turnover can be financially significant to a company. It is estimated that the cost to recruit, hire, and train a new employee is upwards of $10,000. Good companies are willing to spend that money to invest in their people to make sure they have the proper training and equipment that they need in order to perform their job well. This investment is undertaken at a risk to the company with very little guaranteed in return. While most employees begin working with a company with the best intentions and a plan to stay long term, there is a multitude of factors that can cause them to walk away.

Lack of Engagement

One of the reasons why millennials walk away from jobs is due to a lack of engagement, according to Gallup, if there is not healthy communication with a team or an emotional investment to an organization then these 20-or-30-something adults can often start to feel stagnant in their positions. If there are no opportunities for growth or professional development then the only solution can seem to be a disruptive change. As a company or organization, if you are hoping to eliminate the loss of the younger generation as employees then a good place to start is by taking a critical look at the culture of your firm and the way in which managers assess progress and interact with those that they supervise. Taking on responsibilities and participating in learning opportunities is crucial for professionals at every age, but especially at the age when every experience can be helping to define the career progression of these young adults.


Another reason that the millennial generation is known to job hop is for increases in pay. After working at a company for an extended period of time, pay increases can at times be minimal. A typical increase in yearly pay for most companies is likely to be around 3% annually, based on employee performance and department budget. Some companies offer more, but some offer less. In order to incentivize and bring onboard great talent, competing firms in today’s market can offer upwards of 5% to even 10% of salary increases. This is a significant amount and, combined with the promise of a new opportunity, it can be very tempting to consider for a young professional with student loans or a car payment.

Recruitment and Salaries

In my past experience working in recruiting, I have heard stories of employees who were offered generous salary increases from companies trying to recruit them. Instead of saying yes, the employer took the salary number back to their employers who would, in turn, offer to match the amount in order to keep the employee. Initially, this may sound generous, however, it also begs the question of why wouldn’t that company already be paying the employee the amount that they valued them? Too often the standard annual raise does not meet the increase in salaries that the market adjusts for due to inflation. This is a factor that has forced millennials to job shop in order to find the salary they are targeting. Larger salaries are needed as inflation continues to happen. This can put companies who do not factor market information into their salaries at a disadvantage.


Although the issue of job-hopping can be one that is incredibly painful to any company, it may not be an issue that is unique to the millennial generation. While steep increases in turnover can make it appear as though millennials are the first generation with professional commitment issues, this could be simply because they are the most documented. As it turns out, according to Forbes and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers were actually recorded to have subjected the economy to very similar growing pains.

Taking this into consideration, it may be time for companies to stop questioning why this happens and starts asking how they can support this generation of young professionals that are learning and growing into the leaders of tomorrow.