Career-for-life is passé today; job-hopping is the norm. The attitude of today’s workforce is gradually undergoing a sea change as more and more employees favour switching jobs. Despite the global economic conditions, job tenures are progressively shortening and volatility in the job market is at an all-time high.

Time was when employees worked for the same organisation for decades, even devoting their entire career to a single job. Till even recently, chronic job-hopping was almost anathema; such blemishes on the resume impacted future job opportunities negatively. This converse shift in mindset today is fuelled by the rising belief that job hopping is no longer taboo; it will actually stimulate career growth and advancement!

Statistics speak for themselves. The Kelly Global Workforce Index 2012 survey ‘The Autonomous and Empowered Workforce’ conducted by global workforce solutions leader, Kelly Services reveals that more than half of all workers in India (52%), (globally 53%) feel it is more important to change jobs and a whopping 61% Indians consider it to be an asset for career growth and advancement. Only 40% Indian workers regard a career-for-life with one employer as relevant in the modern workplace (slightly better than global average of 31%). The KGWI examines issues of job mobility and career progression as part of a shift to a more autonomous and empowered workforce. Nearly 1, 70, 000 people in 30 countries participated in the survey, including more than 4,000 in India.

Mr. Kamal Karanth, Managing Director, Kelly Services India adds, “The changing dynamics of the modern workplace are causing employees to evaluate the best options for advancing their careers and securing promotions.

The idea of a career-for-life has certainly waned.” In this scenario of active job hopping coupled with rampant layoffs, employee poaching and cutthroat competition in the job market, is employee loyalty a thing of the past? Is it even fair to still expect employees to stick to an organisation for longer periods?

Well, the very definition of loyalty is changing in the current milieu, moving away from tenure and longevity. As Ms. Juhi Gandhi Siyal, HR Recruitment Manager, CapitalVia Global Research Limited explains, “Hopping for better opportunities, higher positions, fatter pay packages and greener pastures have become the norm. It’s not at all surprising that loyalty is no longer treated as putting in your time and staying committed to an organisation for years. It is more about a measurable value, fame, fortune and a lucrative job offer.” Mr Mohan, CEO, Career Access adds, “The term ‘employee loyalty’ is no more relevant with most organisations if the meaning of this term literally translates number of years worked or not shifting jobs to competition.

Today CEOs and HR leaders are talking about high-performance culture. Commitment, professionalism and integrity have largely replaced the term ‘loyalty’ in the corporate world.”

Ms. Rituparna Chakraborty, Vice President, Indian Staffing Federation and Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd. is of the opinion that, “When each and every employee is aligned and is faithful to the overall goal of the organisation, that is loyalty in today’s scenario.” She adds that while such alignment can rightfully be expected from each employee, employers still need to inculcate such commitment by investing in the workforce.

The days of permanent employees are long gone, but what period can organisations reasonably expect their employees to stick around in the job. While there can obviously be no such fixed benchmark, Mr. Mohan is of the view that, “Organisations that do not invest a lot of money on training, overseas exposure and management development programmes expect their employees to stick around for minimum three years and companies who invest in such programmes on their employees expect them to stay for five to seven years, particularly at mid management levels where organisations are serious about building leadership talent pipeline and succession planning.” It is dependent on the job role, employee capability as well.

Therefore, exploring new opportunities and learning diverse skills from multiple employers is the name of the game today. Mr. Navyug Mohnot, CEO, QAI Global gives a fillip to job mobility as key to career growth. He says, “In today’s world, lifetime employment is almost a non-existent concept and it would be unfair for organisations to expect that from its employees. In fact, from an employee’s perspective, making the right moves in the career only adds to the diversity and experience which counts in the long run!”

To sum up, job hopping is being viewed as the new mantra for keeping careers on track.

Employees are embracing mobility by actively seeking experience with multiple employers.

Organisations can hope to succeed only when they first accept and then prepare for this new reality!

Payal Chanania