Job ‘hoppers’ or ‘lifers’: workplace loyalty debunked

A survey of 5,000 working adults has suggested that 35% of those aged 18 to 34 years old would be willing to stay with their current company long-term thanks to opportunities to develop new skills, debunking the idea that workplace loyalty is a thing of the past. 
May 16, 2023

The research from recruitment firm Michael Page examined two distinct identities – job “hoppers” and “lifers” – as well as the benefits each candidate brings to an employer.

At one end of the workplace loyalty scale are ‘hoppers,’ employees who frequently move between companies, on average staying with an employer for just one to three years.

While a significant number of younger workers identify as lifers, there are still plenty who are on the hopper route. In fact, this younger age group are far more likely than their older generational counterparts to follow the hopper career approach (35% of Gen-Z compared to just 8% of those aged 45 to 64).

Across the board, survey respondents could see the merit of the hopper career path: 46% said this approach offers more opportunities for varied career experience and a further 37% said the hopper mentality made them more adaptable.

At the other end of the scale, the research revealed that 65% of UK workers currently identify themselves as lifers – defined as someone who stayed at a company for a longer period of time.

Reasons cited by lifers as to why they prefer to stay long-term included friends made at work (40%), flexible work options (39%) and good relationships with managers (29%).

The lifer approach was also lauded for developing teamwork skills (50%), deep industry knowledge (57%) and strong industry connections (41%). Surprisingly, many younger workers – 58% of Gen-Z and Millennials – identified with the lifer mentality, with 64% stating this attitude towards work offers greater career stability.

Doug Rode, managing director for the UK & Ireland at Michael Page, said: “There are a lot of outdated perceptions around moving jobs frequently and indeed, staying in one place for too long. Being a lifer doesn’t necessarily mean staying in one role for your entire career and becoming outdated. Just as being a hopper doesn’t necessarily mean being flighty and unreliable.

“It’s important to remember it’s not a one size fits all approach – individual personality traits and different life circumstances all play a role in why someone might identify as either a hopper or a ‘lifer.’ The modern workplace has space for both. In fact, harnessing the unique attributes of these two mindsets will strengthen any team.

“What’s really interesting about these findings is that we’re able to bust the myth that younger workers wouldn’t consider a long-term future with a company in the early stages of their career. Yes, they are more likely to identify as hoppers than older workers, but it’s clear from the data that if they find the right employer, they could be willing to stay for a long time.”

The survey also polled workers involved with hiring in their workplaces – while half (50%) noted concerns that those who job hop might leave a company at the first opportunity, a greater proportion (54%) stated that a person could move frequently without showing a lack of loyalty to their employer.

A further half (49%) believe hoppers have greater experience of different working styles – a valuable addition to their workplace – while the lifers were spotlighted as workers with the potential to create a lasting legacy (44%).

With 35% of those in the hiring seat stating workers with a varied CV know how to make an impact in a short space of time, hoppers possess the potential to broaden and refresh a business’s overall skillset. Indeed, two-fifths stated that the contacts (42%) and skills (40%) of a hopper make them ideal candidates for roles.

Rode added: “It’s clear from the data that there are real advantages to hiring either a lifer or a hopper with both demonstrating the attributes any business would associate with top talent. Hiring managers recognise the different skills each can bring to a team, and place lifers and hoppers almost neck and neck in terms of being motivated and high achieving (44% and 42% respectively).

“The crucial consideration is who is right for your business at the current time. Is it the lifer with demonstrable loyalty and depth of specialised experience or is it a hopper who brings fresh thinking and learnings from other areas?

“And if a business can cultivate an environment where any type of worker can thrive, who knows, those hoppers you hired might just turn into a lifer.”

Original Article: Personnel Today

Redefine Workplace Commitment for the Next Generation. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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