Employers Worry About 20-Somethings Jumping Ship

Open DoorCIOs have a gripe: The young programmers and developers they hire and train aren’t sticking around for the long haul.

In an interview with Network World, Louis Trebino, CIO and senior vice president at the Harry Fox Agency in New York, talks about the turnover he’s seeing. Everyone on his six-person Java programming team has less than one year of tenure at the company.

It puts us in a really uncomfortable position to have this kind of turnover because knowledge keeps walking out the door. We invest in training people and bringing them up to speed to where they need to be, and boom, they’re gone. That has been my biggest struggle and concern.

Research backs up Trebino’s concerns. Lily Mok, vice president at Gartner for CIO Research, says young developers are:

Looking for much more aggressive career development opportunities and the ability to learn new things quicker. Traditionally, it took two or three years for a person to move up into the next level in an organization. They want to be on a faster track than that. They don’t want to stay in one spot for more than 12 or 18 months.

Old-fashioned notions of “corporate loyalty” no longer apply, not only because the tech arena is so fast-paced and ever-changing, but also because lean economic times force companies to be less loyal to employees who may want to be loyal but find themselves on the precipice anyway.

Trebino also notes that other than money, a major factor in a young employee’s decision to leave is likely to be flexibility. Twenty-somethings seem to expect to be able to make their own hours and work from anywhere, and while telecommuting has exploded in recent years, it’s still not the norm in most corporate environments.

No Responses to “Employers Worry About 20-Somethings Jumping Ship”

  1. John Smith

    and why is anyone surprised by this? It has been going on(in SIlicon Valley) since the Dot-Com days. Young workers are in demand and have been looking to move to “the next big thing”.

    Yet, these same employers who are whining are the ones who refuse to hire “older” workers who have put in their time trying to hit it big and are ready to settle down/dedicate themselves to a stable position as they raise/support their families.

  2. Unfortunately companies have no one to blame but themselves. Attitudes and tactics that some companies have used on their employees during the last few years do nothing to garner an employee’s loyalty. HR, who should have been helping with this, has certainly not in many cases.

    I do not blame ANY worker from jumping ship to go on to the next great opportunity.

    Many tech workers in Silicon Valley quite literally view some company environments as a “dog eat dog then stick dog in the back with a knife and turn knife” type of environments. But then, its only business… right?

    Some tech workers are turning to trying to create their own companies and create the environments that are based on what many crave – an energized environment based on mutual respect and where you can create great things.

    So am I surprised by this? Not at all. Here is a very simple secret that some of these companies who belly ache about employees jumping ship do not get. If you want to retain great employees, create an environment that empowers them with the opportunity to be innovative and do great things, and compensate them properly.

    That’s my 2 cents…

  3. Fred Bosick

    As you sow, so shall you reap!

    It’s not only in the lean times that companies are less loyal to employees. It’s not even based on external economic factors – Corporate America paid Congress to carve them an exception to immigration quotas, and even now are waiting on a Bill to remove overtime for a growing class of IT workers. And, interestingly, the article talks about 20 somethings. Could it be that outsourcing and offshoring started picking up steam a generation ago?

    MBA toting CIOs hoping to make the big leagues, and with the encouragement of of CxOs, decided to commoditize and “janitorize” IT departments. Because it’s an affront for those not in sales or the executive level to make so much money!

    The modern CIO should avoid mirrors; s/he may not like what is looking back.

  4. I dare say there is a considerable amount of IT work that is unlikely to ever present an opportunity to “be innovative and do great things”. However, there will be the opportunity to write great code that helps the business, or its clients. Not all of us dream of being Steve Jobs, The Great Woz, Gates, or the other tech-giants. We simply enjoy the work, desire to be excellent at our craft, and like to be intellectually challenged, and stimulated.