Job-Hopping: Is It Really All That Abnormal? The Official Answer

Job-hopping is a trend coined by some employers to label people who change their jobs negatively. It involves leaving a workplace and moving on to another without staying for the “normal” number of tenure years. But is job-hopping all that abnormal? Let’s see what the statistics say about it.

Covid’s Effect on Employment Decisions

First, let’s look at how many people lost their jobs, got laid off, or experienced drastic role changes in 2020 due to Covid 19. Over 36.5 million people flat-out lost their jobs or underwent significant job role changes by May of 2020 alone. The total for 2020 was well over 114 million.

Many people who still had jobs weren’t too eager to work on the frontlines of retail with so little protection or knowledge about the virus. Therefore, Covid was likely responsible for many job-hopping changes and departures in the 2020-2021 period.

Now that we’ve seen statistics on work loss and job-hopping during Covid, let’s look at a couple of statistics about how frequently modern-day workers change their jobs.

Job Tenure and Job-Hopping Statistics

A 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey of baby boomers concluded that people change their jobs an average of 12.5 times in their lives. So, a slight increase or decrease from that average number doesn’t make one worker any more abnormal than anyone else in the world. A worker who changes jobs seven or 17 times is well within the current trend.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Tenure Data

The average overall work tenure in January of 2020 was 4.1 years with one employer, but that average number changed drastically when broken down by industry and occupation. For example, it was much lower for individuals in food service, retail, hospitality, and the like (1.9 years). Workers with the highest tenure were in federal positions and public sector jobs (8.9 years). Thus, job tenure depends significantly on the industry, but the overall number is still pretty low.

Why People Change or Leave Their Jobs

job-hopping quitting job leaving picture

Workers generally don’t change jobs because of random mood changes. They usually have solid reasons for job hopping, including:

  • Low or unlivable wages
  • Lack of recognition
  • Lack of opportunity for advancement
  • A harsh or physically demanding job
  • Poor work schedule
  • Relocation
  • Childcare
  • Work-life balance issues
  • Hostile work environment, harassment, or negativity

The reason for an employee’s exit usually directly affects the swiftness of the departure. In other words, a worker may stay at a place of employment for several years until he or she realizes that no advancement opportunity exists. That worker will then seek other employment opportunities that provide attainable growth opportunities.

On the other hand, a worker who experiences abuse or mistreatment may not last even 30 days. The tenure for someone in that position will depend on that person’s tolerance level, financial need, future goals, and whether the job is worth it.

A whopping 27 percent of American workers in all industries have experienced workplace abuse, such as bullying, mobbing, harassment, sabotage, and verbal and emotional torment. Sixty-two percent of restaurant workers alone reported that they left their jobs due to such abuse. So, it’s a real thing that leads many people to make swift employment decisions.

The reason for a job change doesn’t always carry negative connotations, however. Sometimes workers leave when they relocate, or they take time off after giving birth to care for a newborn child. Educational pursuits and self-employment conflicts and ventures may also cause a worker to depart.

In closing, it looks like neither job changing nor having a short stint is out of the ordinary for a modern worker. The workforce is changing rapidly, as are workers and what they value most in a workplace.

Where do you stand on the job-hopping topic? Have you ever been accused of job-hopping? Leave a comment to start a discussion.

8 thoughts on “Job-Hopping: Is It Really All That Abnormal? The Official Answer

  1. I believe we’re going to start seeing a trend where the upcoming generations are going to job-hop much more than older generations. It seems Millennials and younger don’t have the tolerance for work environments that aren’t satisfying or fulfilling. There are so many more opportunities now than there have ever been, and people know they have options. I think job-hopping is a trend that’s going to continue growing!

      1. I certainly hope so! When I told my 73 year old mom that I was leaving my job to pursue freelance, her immediate response was “But what about your retirement?!” It still seems their generation is quick to focus on the long term comfort and security first and foremost, even if it means sacrificing your emotional well-being at a job that is harmful to your mental health. It’s interesting to observe the difference in generational mindset in regards to this topic!

      2. That’s a very real concern. However, retirement plans are available for freelancers. Freelancers can also receive social security income when they reach the retirement age, especially if they’ve spent a significant number of years in the traditional workforce.

  2. You approached the topic well, hope employers go through it and ensure a better environment and an honest pay.

    1. Thank you. I just wanted to bring a different perspective to “job hopping.” Most people only see it from one side and don’t understand everything workers go through. People usually don’t enjoy having to change jobs.

  3. you article is well analyzed.Most employees use job hopping as a strategy to get ahead financially .Most are looking for better pay or income.This trend is unlikely to change.I would wish if employers went through this article for them to learn and re-strategize their organizations.

    1. I’ll have to disagree with the income strategy assumption. Usually, several factors play a role in a person’s departure from a job(s). If you review the stats, you’ll find that income isn’t the top reason for alleged job-hopping.

      The recipe has to be right for an extended stay. One has to be happy with the wages, yes. However, the employee also needs to be passionate about the work and be in a supportive and healthy work environment. An opportunity to grow and advance also needs to be present, as most people don’t want to stay stagnant in their positions forever.

      Opportunity to Advance

      Hopefully, the employers can “re-strategize their organizations” by paying workers a livable wage AND making sure they can work in peace. That’d be great.

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