While discussion of millennials job hopping is nothing new, the Gen Z job hopping trend has been making headlines lately.

According to PwC’s Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2023, 35 percent of Gen Z workers plan to change jobs in the next year. This seismic shift in the workforce dynamics poses unique challenges for businesses striving to retain young talent.

While job-hopping is increasingly prevalent among Gen Z, it often carries a stigma. Traditional hiring managers may view frequent job changes as a sign of instability or lack of commitment, potentially painting the candidate in an unfavorable light. This perception could affect a job seeker’s chances during recruitment and be seen as a red flag.

However, as workforce dynamics evolve, businesses must understand that job-hopping could reflect Gen Z’s pursuit of growth opportunities, diverse skill acquisition, and better work-life balance.

The Reasons Behind Gen Z Job Hopping

Gen Z’s job-hopping trend can be attributed to several factors:

  • The search for meaningful work: Many Gen Z workers prioritize finding meaningful and fulfilling work over simply earning a paycheck. They want jobs that align with their personal values and contribute positively to society. If their current role does not satisfy these needs, they are more likely to move on.
  • Career advancement opportunities: Career Growth: A recent survey revealed that 83 percent of workers felt stagnant in their positions. Gen Zers are at the onset of their careers and are especially keen on growth opportunities. Gen Z is ambitious and career-oriented. They crave opportunities for growth and advancement in their professional lives. If they feel stagnant or unchallenged in their current position, they will likely search for new opportunities elsewhere.
  • Financial incentives: Financial incentives also play a significant role in the job-hopping trend among Gen Z. In a competitive job market, switching jobs can often lead to a substantial increase in salary, bonuses, or other financial benefits. Being educated and tech-savvy, Gen Z is aware of these prospects and often uses job-hopping to accelerate their earnings. Moreover, the rise of the gig economy and freelance jobs offer lucrative pay-outs and the freedom to choose projects that align with their interests, increasing job transitions.
  • A desire for flexible working conditions: Gen Z workers value flexibility and a healthy work-life balance. Traditional 9-5 jobs may not appeal to them as much as flexible or remote work options. They appreciate companies that offer options such as remote working, flexible hours, or additional wellness benefits. If these are lacking, they may consider other job options.
  • Impact of COVID-19 pandemic: The pandemic has profoundly impacted the job market. Some Gen Z workers have been forced to change jobs due to layoffs or business closures, while others have reassessed their career priorities. This has led to an increase in job-hopping behavior.

Gen Z and Job Hopping: The Impact on Businesses and Mobility

The frequent job changes by Gen Z employees impact businesses in various ways. On the one hand, it can lead to higher employee turnover rates, which can be costly for companies. High employee turnover can mean increased recruitment costs and productivity loss. Moreover, it can disrupt team dynamics and negatively affect company culture. The expenses associated with hiring and training new employees and the loss of productivity during the transition period can significantly impact a company’s bottom line.

In particular, relocation costs can be an expensive investment for any business. When bringing on a new employee from out of town, companies may opt to pay for their relocation costs. However, if this employee decides to leave soon after relocating, then the company has essentially wasted money.

To avoid this situation, companies should consider having a repayment agreement with new hires outlining how much money must be paid back if they leave within a certain period. Such an agreement protects the company’s interests if employees choose to job hop shortly after relocating.

Additionally, companies should consider offering incentives and benefits that make staying with the company more attractive to Gen Z workers. These can include flexible working hours, remote work options, career development opportunities, and attractive salary packages. Companies should also focus on creating a positive working environment with strong team dynamics that will be more likely to retain Gen Z employees.

How to Ask About Job-Hopping in an Interview

During an interview, it’s crucial to address any potential red flags in a candidate’s resume, Gen Z or otherwise, including job-hopping. Here’s how you might approach this:

  • Be direct but tactful: Frame your question in a non-judgmental way. You could say, “I noticed you’ve held several positions over the past few years. Could you share more about your reasons for changing jobs?”
  • Ask about their reasons: There could be valid reasons for frequent job changes, such as relocating, looking for better opportunities, or layoffs due to economic conditions. Ask the candidate to explain their reasoning.
  • Future commitment: If job-hopping concerns you, ask the candidate about their plans. For instance: “If we offer you this position, do you see yourself committing to it for a significant period? Why?”
  • Lessons learned: Ask what they learned from each experience to understand if they gained valuable skills or insights despite their short tenure. You could ask: “What key skills or experiences did you gain from these roles that you believe will benefit you in this position?”

Remember, the goal is not to make the candidate uncomfortable but to understand their career decisions and gauge their potential commitment to your company.

Are there any Upsides to Gen Z Turnover?

Not all the news is negative. The Gen Z turnover trend brings fresh perspectives and diverse skills to the workplace, offering opportunities for innovation and growth. Given Gen Z’s comfort with technology, businesses can benefit from their tech-savviness and ability to quickly adapt to new tools and technologies.

Further, the job-hopping trend also challenges businesses to rethink their retention strategies and adapt to the changing expectations of the younger workforce. It necessitates creating an engaging work environment with growth opportunities, flexibility, and financial incentives.

Companies that fail to adapt may struggle to attract and retain Gen Z employees, potentially leading to talent gaps and a less diverse workforce. Businesses that can successfully manage and harness the potential of this job-hopping generation may gain a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

Strategies for Retaining Gen Z Talent

Given these challenges, HR professionals must adapt their strategies to retain Gen Z talent:

  • Develop a Strong Company Culture: Gen Z workers tend to be attracted to companies that have inclusive and progressive cultures. Building a solid company culture that values diversity, promotes innovation, and fosters a sense of community can go a long way in retaining young talent. This includes creating an environment where employees feel heard and appreciated and are given opportunities to grow and thrive.
  • Offer Competitive Benefits: Companies can attract and retain Gen Z talent by offering competitive benefits packages that meet their needs and aspirations. In addition to a good salary, Gen Z workers also value benefits such as healthcare coverage, retirement plans, relocation programs (including elective relocation), and paid time off.
  • Invest in Career Development Programs: Gen Z workers are keen on advancing their careers. Businesses can retain these employees by investing in career development programs that provide training, mentorship, and opportunities for advancement. This not only enhances job satisfaction but also helps to build a skilled and committed workforce.
  • Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements: As previously mentioned, Gen Z values flexibility. Adapting to this need by offering remote work options, flexible schedules, or a combination of both can significantly improve job satisfaction and retention rates among Gen Z employees.

By understanding the motivations behind Gen Z’s job-hopping trend and adapting accordingly, businesses can successfully navigate this changing workforce landscape. Companies need to stay ahead of the curve and cultivate an environment that aligns with the needs and values of their young talent.

The job-hopping trend among Gen Z workers presents challenges and opportunities for businesses. By recognizing the reasons behind this trend and implementing appropriate retention strategies, companies can turn this phenomenon into a competitive advantage.

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