Thesis: Job hopping is good for companies

For some reason, I’ve seen a few pieces recently on us “millenials” and our job-hopping tendencies. It’s certainly a thing I do. I’ve worked for two companies for ~ 3 years (one slightly under, one slightly over), one for a year and a half and a few short several-month stints. (This isn’t counting Lumi, my current one. No idea/comment yet on how long that one is going to last).

A lot is mentioned about the structural reasons for this, and how it makes total sense from the employee side of things. One thing I don’t think is often mentioned is that it’s actually really useful for the employer’s point of view (ok. This is often mentioned to be the case for cynical reasons of it meaning they don’t have to be loyal to their employees, but I for one am disinclined to count the loyalty of the corporation hive minds for much of anything anyway).

From the company’s perspective it sucks when people leave. But people leaving you readily comes with a pleasant side effect which I think might outweigh its cost: people also leave other companies readily and join yours.

Why is this a good thing when compared to just having the same people stay?

Because groups of the same people who have been solving the problem together for some time start to experience a very stagnant meme pool. They’ve all been thinking about the same things for some time, and they’ve been doing so in close collaboration. The result is that they will have broadly shared blind spots and habits. They can get very focused on solving the wrong problem, they get used to things in a “We know that’s shit but we’ve largely gotten used to it or figured out ways to ignore it” way, and they’ve got very used to specific ways of doing things as they’ve mostly been exposed to the same set of ideas.

And this is where constantly bringing in new employees helps. They’ve a fresh perspective grown in a different set of ideas. They’ve seen different ways of doing things and can cherry-pick the best of them to propose here (“Hey, this problem you’re stuck on, I’ve totally seen it before and we solved it this way”). They also have a fresh supply of outrage at the things you’re doing wrong – sure, this can be annoying. It can also be really useful because sometimes those things you’ve been ignoring aren’t actually harmless and are in fact ticking time bombs and it’s really helpful to have someone shouting about them and getting them fixed.

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