Job hopping by Millennials is a seemingly unstoppable scourge. The IPMA-HR HR2020 Task Force identified job hopping as a talent management priority. They described the problem as high turnover rates due to the current tendency of the newer generation’s job hopping every 3-4 years and the current mindset within the public sector that job hopping is not a positive attribute. The obvious tactic is to combat job hopping, but that’s not easy to do. What if we take a different approach and try to use job hopping to our own advantage?
Job Hopping in the Public Sector
USC professor John Boudreau and Willis Tower Watson leader Ravin Jesuthasan have written about the strange case of Khazanah—an employer that actually facilitated job hopping for high potential leaders. Khazanah wanted high potentials to leave their current position because that experience would be the best way to accelerate the development of their leadership skills. Of course, there was a bigger plan in place... to get the high potentials back after a few years.
Can public sector organizations learn something from this attitude to job hopping? Maybe leaving the public sector for a few years can be a good thing—that is presuming we can entice them to come back. When I worked at Hay Management Consultants we had many “boomerang employees:” consultants who would quit only to return a few years later—all the more talented from their experience on the outside. The fact that this was accepted was both a benefit for the consultants working there and an ongoing source of talent.
We know that many Millennials will job hop no matter what we do. Sure, let’s do our best to hang on to people, but let’s also see what we can do to turn job hoppers into boomerang employees.
The Simple Road to Creating Boomerang Employees
It’s easy to make the argument that we should welcome boomerang employees and create an alumni network to encourage them to come back to the public sector. However, I’ll bet most HR professionals are sitting there with too much work and too few resources. Adding one more program is too much work; however, you can accomplish a lot with little additional work.
Here are some simple steps for a barebones, but effective, boomerang program.
Make Minor Modifications to Your Exit Process
1. Add an attractive graphic that says, “Good luck with your next job and we hope that after that experience you will come back to public service.”
2. Request that they add their name to the alumni network.
Set Up an Alumni Network
One easy approach is to use a LinkedIn group because it’s free and you can set it up in 10 minutes; however, you could also create an email list and manage it with an email tool.
Create a Painless Mechanism for Occasional Communication to the Alumni Group
If you’ve got limited resources then you’ve got to be realistic about how often you’ll communicate with the Alumni group. The most important thing is to remind them a few times a year that they are still considered part of the public-sector family so that when they’re ready to change jobs they’ll consider coming back. One of the easiest things is to send an attractive Instagram-style photo once a month. It could be pictures of the new office or the staff holiday party.
Let the Recruiting Team Know the Alumni Group is a Source of Talent
Wait a year so that there are a reasonable number of people in the Alumni group, then send your recruiters that use your HRIS system a link to the group and suggest it can be a good source of talent.
We should try to minimize job hopping, but at the same time we can try to make the best of it by encouraging boomerang employees. Even if you have few spare resources, you can still put in place a bare bones boomerang program. Give it a try and measure the results. If Millennials insist on job hopping, then let’s make it easy for those who hop out of the public sector to hop back in.