I speculate that job hopping, if it becomes a widespread phenomenon, might actually lead to improved business efficiency. In this way, the “Gen Y” job hopping phenomenon could ultimately prove beneficial.
- Mark Suster begins the debate by writing: “[Job Hoppers] Make Terrible Employees”.
- Paul Dix responds that job hopping is not correlated with employee quality and there are many better ways to assess the value of an individual employee than the length of their previous jobs.
- Penelope Trunk thinks that job hoppers make the best employees, because they are more qualified and loyal.
- Mark Suster replies to Paul Dix, clarifying and defending his original arguments.
- Jason Calacanis looks at the overall trend of job hopping, and argues that it is a negative trait of Gen Y.
- Andrew Warner argues that startup employers might simply be mismanaging expectations.
Issues with Jason Calacanis’s piece
Jason’s piece seems to have a very crochity tone, with a lot of: “The kids these days are driving society to hell in a handbasket” sort of feel. To wit:
- “the majority of them seem to lack killer instinct but have excel at entitlement“
- “It’s so obvious to me why our country is spiraling like a regional jet piloted by a $9 an hour, 20 year-old pilot with under 1,000 hours of flight time.“
These all sound like the sort of criticisms every older generation lobs at younger ones, which make me immediately skeptical.
Obviously, Jason has had negative experiences with employees who leave after one year. I’m not saying these employees were good. But I think he draws the wrong generalizations and I suspect that the trend of job hopping might ultimately lead to societal and economic good.
Could Job Hopping be beneficial?
I think there is definitely a social shift that is occurring, but I think this concept of discrete “generations” is a red herring, since the shift is occurring gradually, not as a step function.
Here I’m just going to speculate a bit: If Jason’s prediction is true, and ten years down the road it is not uncommon that most people job hop every year until they find a good relationship, it might not be as grim as the old guard predicts. In fact, it could ultimately have beneficial effects. I can understand how this idea is scary to conventional businesses, but since I don’t have extensive industry experience, I have the luxury of having little enough bias to use my imagination about how this might ultimately be beneficial.
The real problem with job hopping is the initial expensive startup cost to integrating a new employee into your organization. Job hopping would not really be so problematic if businesses (and new employees) were set up for people to contribute value immediately. Perhaps employers and employees alike would benefit from businesses restructuring their processes to be more modular and self-contained. This is similar to how it seems initially expensive to design your code so that components are loosely coupled, but ultimately this discipline leads to greater flexibility and easier maintainability. Similarly, structuring your organization and processes in such a way that you can easily add (or remove!) talent can ultimately lead to efficiency. (I make similar comments about outsourcing your code.)
As I said, this idea on my part is purely creative speculation, and I can’t claim I have enough experience to know whether this is true or not. So when it comes to whether job hopping is good (as Paul Dix says) or bad (as Mark Suster and Jason Calcanis say), I have to abstain.
The idea of blind loyalty is an artifact of situations in which the party to which you are loyal (a large corporation, an Army, etc.) is far too large to have a relationship with you. When an actual relationship is possible, that is far preferable to some impersonal loyalty.
Alignment of interests and clear communication is the best way to make any sort of relationship work.