Here’s How Career Nomads are Impacting Companies

Talented professionals, especially the intellectual curious and those comfortable with ambiguity, are increasingly switching jobs. A new study by Korn Ferry offers ways that companies can reduce cost and increase the net benefit of retaining Career Nomads. Here’s a closer look.

October 28, 2019 – Change is good, but it may come at a price when we’re talking careers. A new study by Korn Ferry looks at the increasing phenomenon of “Career Nomads” – high-performing, talented professionals who are switching jobs, organizations and even careers at a faster rate than others.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, older Millennials (those born in the early 1980s) have already switched jobs nearly eight (7.8) times, despite the fact they are only mid-career. Statistics also show that the rate at which people quit their jobs has increased 25 percent since 2013.

And while the Korn Ferry study said that 88 percent of professionals believe that frequent job switches have had a positive impact on their careers, statistics show that the cost for companies to replace high-performing Career Nomads is between 50 percent to 75 percent of their annual salary.

Who Are Career Nomads?

Career Nomads are people who tend to move from job to job, changing companies or careers more frequently than average workers. “Career nomads are not mediocre talent, leaving before their lackluster performance is discovered,” said Korn Ferry. “They are highly talented, highly learning agile, sought-after professionals that are not content to stay in one place, and seek out progressive challenges and learning opportunities.”

Career nomads are on the rise. These high-performing people switch companies and careers frequently—and it’s not just Millennials. How is this trend impacting your company’s bottom line?

Despite the cost of replacing Career Nomads, the Korn Ferry study said that more than half of organizations, especially larger Fortune 500 companies with greater revenue per employee, enjoy net benefits from the value these short-tenured employees bring.

When asked in the study about the top goals Career Nomads have when taking a new job, respondents said: leveraging their skills in better context, aligning with organizational purpose, and finding appreciation and recognition.

Korn Ferry research pointed to certain characteristics that help predict if an employee will seek out new roles and challenges. People with high levels of intellectual curiosity are, on average, 2.2 times more likely to be Career Nomads, and those who have a tolerance for ambiguity are, on average, 2.5 times more likely to fall into that category.


More Than Half of U.S. Employees Are Seeking New Jobs

Sixty-three percent of full time employees are looking for a new job, this according to a report, “Competition for Talent in the U.S.,” released by iCIMS. Employees spanning all generations are looking at industries outside of the current one they are working within for new opportunities. The top industries candidates are considering migrating to include technology & software, entertainment, communications, banking & finance and consulting. According to the report, 71 percent of Millennials, 66 percent of Gen Xers and 44 percent of Baby Boomers are currently looking to move to another company.


“Our study indicates the reasons people seek new challenges elsewhere are the same reasons companies want them to stay,” said Jean-Marc Laouchez, president of Korn Ferry Institute. “Career Nomads are intellectually curious.”

“They have a tolerance for ambiguity,” said Mr. Laouchez, who has accumulated over 20 years of consulting experience, partnering with boards, CEOs and business leaders. “They are willing to take risks that can help them excel and provide value for their employer.”

Give Them a Reason to Stay

So, what are companies to do? The Korn Ferry study highlights the top five talent management practices (in order) that can reduce cost and increase the net benefit of retaining Career Nomads:

1. Offering compelling career development opportunities.

2. Supporting work-life balance.

3. Improving leader effectiveness.

4. Enhancing employee well-being.

5. Re-strategizing rewards and benefits.

“While there’s no fighting the Career Nomad trend, business leaders can look for ways to extend job tenure, especially for high potentials who make the most impact on a company,” said Mr. Laouchez. “This group needs to be identified much earlier than in the past—then nurtured, mentored, developed and rewarded.”

Korn Ferry has developed a Career Nomad Calculator, which estimates the potential net costs and benefits of hiring nomads based on a company’s industry, workforce size and annual revenue.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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