Five ways to retain highly sought after “career nomads”

Sought-after employees are intellectually curious and prize appreciation and recognition, but they can be quick to move on if they're not satisfied.
By: | October 30, 2019

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, older millennials (those born in the early 1980s) in the middle of their careers have already switched jobs an average of 7.8 times. A new study by Korn Ferry refers to these restless millennials as “career nomads.”

What are the characteristics of these career nomads? Korn Ferry cites its own research showing that people with high levels of intellectual curiosity are, on average, 2.2. times more likely to be career nomads, while those who have a tolerance for ambiguity are also 2.5 times more likely to fall into that category.

The new study finds that 88% of professionals believe that changing jobs frequently has had a positive impact on their careers. The same can’t be said for employers, however: the cost for companies to replace high-performing career nomads is between 50% to 75% of their annual salary every time they depart, Korn Ferry has found.

The latest survey also reveals that career nomads prize leveraging their skills in better contexts, aligning with organisational purpose, and finding appreciation and recognition.

“Career nomads are intellectually curious,” says Jean-Marc Laouchez, president of the Korn Ferry Institute. “They have a tolerance for ambiguity. They are willing to take risks that can help them excel and provide value for their employer.”

When it comes to fighting the career-switching trend, there’s relatively little that employers can do, he says. There are, however, five things they can do that will at least extend the time that career nomads spend at their organisation.

Here are those five things, according to Korn Ferry:

  1. Offer compelling career-development opportunities
  2. Support work/life balance
  3. Improve leader/manager effectiveness
  4. Enhance employee wellbeing
  5. Re-strategise rewards and benefits