Does Anyone Commit Anymore?

Commitment: The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. A promise to be loyal to someone or something.

A recent LinkedIn study found that millennials change jobs a lot more than their parents did. In fact, the study found that “the new normal is for millennials to jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college. That’s nearly double the bouncing around the generation before them did.”

When I was first starting my career, I remember my father warning me against “job hopping.” After all, you don’t want to risk losing your pension, it looks bad on a resume, and job hopping shows a lack of commitment.

Very good points at the time. But how times have changed.

The LinkedIn study got me thinking about what we do as a society to foster commitment. What has led the younger generation to constantly seek something new and different?

Think about how we introduce commitment to our children. We assign chores, or we encourage learning a new instrument or a new sport as a way to show that dedication and hard work are how you achieve results.

And does that work? Not always. A report shows that of the current generation attending college (meaning those who graduated high school after 2013), 50-70 percent will change majors within the four years they attend a school.

Even more surprising is that 37 percent of students will actually transfer schools at least once in six years.

That “hopping” doesn’t start with jobs; it actually begins in school. In fact, one admissions official was quoted as saying that school transfer policies are the “secret weapon” in admissions. If you do not meet the requirements for freshman admission, you probably can meet the transfer qualifications. Attend another school to start, and then just move over. Doesn’t that make it easy?

So as parents, we work to teach our children to commit. But society supports change. New major, new school, different location. New job, new career, new company.

And lately there are even more examples of society’s lack of commitment. Brexit, for example; or closer to home, the fact that 20% of Republicans are planning to vote Democratic in the upcoming November election.

Job hoppers are an HR manager’s nightmare. In the absence of pensions or true job security, is there anything that a company can do to encourage commitment from a generation that simply doesn’t believe in it?

A recent posting by the payroll company PayChex makes the following recommendations:

  • Believe in your employees and let them do the job they were hired to do
  • Be flexible when possible and accommodate schedule changes due to outside commitments
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and assign tasks that you know they can succeed at
  • Acknowledge and praise employees
  • Be grateful for your team’s contributions and coach them to do even better
  • Offer assistance when employees get overwhelmed and be willing to work alongside the team when needed
  • Emphasize teamwork

The trend toward job hopping in millennials doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Maybe the best we can do is to train, support, and coach new employees. By offering challenges and opportunities, perhaps we can achieve some commitment.

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