Millennial Job-Hopping: Understanding a Growing Trend


If you Google “Millennial” you see the countless stereotypes written about the Millennial employee. They are called lazy, entitled, immature, non-committed job-hoppers.  Today many employers call Millennials a definite “flight risk.”

I’ve been researching and speaking on Generations in the Workplace for over 10 years. I believe that time spent judging different generations would be much better spent understanding them. When you recognize what motivates and engages each generation, you gain awareness and appreciation. Age is irrelevant!

Influencing Factors on Millennial Job-Hopping

Flightiness could be the result of a larger issue of disengaged employees. Deloitte reveals that two out of every three Millennials expect to leave their current employer by 2020. That’s a big number, and the concept of Millennial job-hopping is worth examining.

Let’s look a little closer at three influencing factors:

  1. An epidemic of under-engagement
  2. A world and workplace that are changing at an accelerated pace
  3. The natural exploration of youth


According to Gallup, only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work, 55% rate themselves as “not engaged,” and 16% go so far as to say they are “actively disengaged”. That means 71% of Millennial employees are more or less checked out. According to a recent study released by Udemy, young millennials (ages 21-24) are nearly twice as likely to be bored at work (38%) than their Baby Boomer counterparts (22%).

Millennials have grown up with technology and are often more capable of finding ways to automate their work. They’re working smarter, not harder.

Job-hopping is the quickest way to a higher salary, especially for entry-level workers. But, not all Millennials are chasing the dollar.  In many cases, Millennials are actually willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that better matches their values and offers more employee engagement.

This passionate group craves rewarding, purpose-driven work. They want authentic connections with their managers and colleagues. In addition, Millennials want to grow within their organization.

Research reveals that 86% of Millennials want career training and admit that they would stay at their current job longer if they felt they were learning and progressing.

The world is Changing, and It’s Changing Fast

In 2012, Sheryl Sandburg coined the concept of the “jungle gym” career path. This metaphor deviates from the old school “climbing up the corporate ladder.” As a result, the jungle gym concept takes a more flexible, lateral perspective in one’s career path. 

Boomers and Gen X’ers are more accustomed to vertical moves, while Millennials take a more zig-zagged, jungle gym approach consisting of more lateral moves.

Today, the stigma attached to job-hopping is fading. Recent research reveals that 75% of people ages 18-34 view “job-hopping” in a positive light. Millennial job-hoppers feel that with each job they have an opportunity to make new connections, learn new skills, and gain insights.

Youth and Lifestyle

Millennials are in a different stage of life compared to older employees and have prolonged their transition to adulthood. Millennials feel they still have time for career discovery, self-exploration, and opportunity. For the first time, there is more student loan debt than credit card debt in America.

Debt has become the reason many Millennials are delaying major life events. According to an NBC News/GenForward survey, 56% of millennials surveyed said they delayed one or more major life events because of credit card and student loan debt. Thirty-four percent held off on buying a home, while 14% delayed marriage and 16% delayed having children.

Because of their debt, many Millennials are unable to cross off the traditional adult milestones at the same age that their parents. Student debt motivates Millennials to job-hop because they are looking for a bigger paycheck.

Let’s Stop the Generational Judgement

If you are not a Millennial, you probably have a negative perspective regarding the recent uptick in Millennial job-hopping, but by analyzing these primary causes, one might gain a better understanding of why it’s a growing trend.

So, please stop the judging and the name-calling. Take time to know and understand people both younger and older than yourself.  Time spent judging different generations would be much better spent listening. When you recognize what motivates and engages Millennials, you gain a better understanding of the Millennial perspective.



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