According to CNN’s analysis of a LinkedIn study, millennials switch jobs an average of about four times in their first 10 years in the workplace.  This is a dramatic increase over the previous generation, which averaged just two job changes in their first 10 years.

Like butterflies flitting from flower to flower, it is difficult to predict how long a millennial will stay at a certain job.  And that is a scary thing for hiring managers, both in general as well as in procurement.

I have to admit, I’ve used length of employment as a criterion in my own employee hiring practices.  I mean, let’s face it, if a candidate only spent 18 months at each of his/her last three jobs, what are the chances that s/he will remain at your organization any longer?  Unlike the stock market, I do believe that “past performance is an indicator of future performance” when it comes to employment matters.

I also believe that there is probably a time span of employment where it is not worth hiring someone.  If you have to replace someone after 18 months, that’s a lot of wasted effort.  Not to mention the risk that 18 months is just enough to mess things up quite a bit!  Where that worth it/not worth it demarcation point is, I’m not sure.  But I know that it’s no fun if you are screening resumes and interviewing all the time instead of doing, you know, actual work.

But what to do if all of the candidates for a purchasing job are “procurement butterflies?”

I prefer two options:  keep looking or work on your own leadership.

Work on your own leadership?

Yeah.  Because the old saying still rings true:  “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.”

So, in this world where good workers are comfortable job hopping in the blink of an eye, leaders need to challenge themselves to be the “boss no one wants to quit.”  In fact, staff retention rate is a good metric for evaluating one’s leadership abilities.

The butterfly trend doesn’t seem like it will reverse anytime soon.  And procurement is not immune.

While I don’t recommend succumbing to the trend and hiring any procurement butterfly – time span of employment is still a valid candidate evaluation criterion – I do think that you can always work on building the type of “flower” that the butterfly doesn’t want to leave.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is the Founder of the Next Level Purchasing Association. Charles is also the Co-Author of "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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