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A ‘hopper’ or a ‘lifer’ – who would you hire?

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65% of UK workers say they’ll stay in the same company for more than 3 years

A survey from Michael Page of 5,000 working adults has revealed that the theory that workplace loyalty is a thing of the past, with 35% of those aged between 18-and-34 stating they’d be willing to stay with their current company long-term thanks to opportunities to develop new skills.

The quarterly study, commissioned by recruitment firm Michael Page, part of the FTSE 250 PageGroup, shone a light on the two distinct identities emerging amongst today’s workforce – ‘hoppers’ and ‘lifers’ – as well as the benefits each approach brings for an employer.

The research revealed that 65% of UK workers currently call themselves ‘lifers’ which is defined as someone who stays in the same company for three years or more.

Reasons cited by ‘lifers’ as to why they prefer to stay long-term included friends made at work (40%), flexible work options (39%) and good relationships with managers (29%).

The ‘lifer’ approach was also lauded for developing teamwork skills (50%), deep industry knowledge (57%) and strong industry connections (41%). As the most recent generations to enter the job market, 58% of Gen-Z and Millennials identified with the ‘lifer’ mentality, with 64% stating this attitude towards work offers greater career stability.

At the opposite end of the workplace scale sit the ‘hoppers,’ employees who frequently move between companies, on average staying with an employer for just 1-3 years. While a significant number of younger workers identify as ‘lifers,’ there are still plenty who are on the ‘hopper’ route. In fact, this younger age group are far more likely than their older generational counterparts to follow the hopper career approach (35% of Gen-Z compared to just 8% of those aged 45 to 64).

Across the board, survey respondents could see the merit of the ‘hopper’ career path: 46% said this approach offers more opportunities for varied career experience and a further 37% said the ‘hopper’ mentality made them more adaptable.

Doug Rode, Managing Director UK & Ireland at Michael Page commented: “It’s clear from the data that there are real advantages to hiring either a ‘lifer’ or a ‘hopper’ with both demonstrating the attributes any business would associate with top talent. Hiring managers recognise the different skills each can bring to a team, and place ‘lifers’ and ‘hoppers’ almost neck and neck in terms of being motivated and high achieving (44% and 42% respectively).

“The crucial consideration is who is right for your business at the current time. Is it the ‘lifer’ with demonstrable loyalty and depth of specialised experience or is it a ‘hopper’ who brings fresh thinking and learnings from other areas?

“And if a business can cultivate an environment where any type of worker can thrive, who knows, those ‘hoppers’ you hired might just turn into a ‘lifer.’”


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