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The empire stuck first.  No warnings, no subtle hints, no gentle transition.  That was the day I changed my perception on the job market forever.  And no, I am not referring to the release of the Bad Religion album…

Empire

I have heard a lot of complaints recently about ‘job hoppers’ aka people that jump from job to job in a matter of years or even months in some cases.  The main argument is that generations x and y are used to instant gratification. I have always been a strong believe in the concept of working hard and proving yourself and so when I was younger I was one of the loudest voices in that chorus.  Then, very suddenly, after working my way up the chain at HP, I was laid off.  This came as a total shock to me – I had been getting consistently superior ratings and working harder than I had ever worked.  The empire strikes first.  Now to back up for a second.  I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here; businesses are simply groups of people with common goals but the truth of the matter is that, particularly with large businesses, company loyalty is a thing of the past.

If a hard working productive employee can’t expect that a company will keep them around for thirty years, why would a person stick around for thirty?  This isn’t to say there aren’t exceptions and as most people know, the smaller the company, the more likely the company will be loyal and this is where job hoppers are the blight – the small company that invests in its people only to see them jump to another company – but this is much more the exception anymore than the rule.

I read a study recently that said 88% (I would quote it but I cant remember exactly where I read it) of employees were looking for a new job, thinking about looking, or would be open to switching if the opportunity presented itself.  That number seems high to me, and I suspect that many of the respondents were thinking along the lines of better opportunity vs just a ‘new’ opportunity but it still shows that the average worker doesn’t feel any particular pull to stay at their current position.  More money ranked as the No. 1 reason for moving to a new position. Other considerations included more training opportunities, working with new technologies, more challenging assignments and a more interesting technical direction in a new employer’s IT department.  The number one negative reason was “poor management.”  I have actually been quite lucky in that to this day I have never had a poor manager, and perhaps that is the reason I am only now with my third company in my twelve years in the industry – well below the amount of changes my peers have made, but a far cry from the lifelong commitments of the past.

A lot of companies are working to reverse the trend, but its clear that things will never exactly be as they used to.  The question really is, should they?  My wife showed me an excellent video that I highly recommend about what really motivates people.  Maybe more companies should take notice as well…

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