July 14

LeBron James – A Job Hopping Gen Y Example



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The LeBron James move from Cleveland to Miami has generated a ton of media buzz. Simultaneously, there has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about job hopping amongst Gen Y employees. Some writers are combining these two topics and using 25 year-old LeBron James as an example of a job hopping Gen Y employee.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: L. Marie
We recently explored this theme with National Gen Y Examiner Sharalyn Hartwell by looking at what motivates Gen Y in the workplace and what does it take for Gen Y to get job satisfaction. Rather than repeat any of that or the above mentioned analysis, I’d like to add the thought that America seems to have gone from people old enough to remember the Depression looking at work as “what do I have to do” to Gen X asking “what do I want to do” to Gen Y asking “what do I want to do and how do I do it NOW“.

When a generation like Gen Y grows up getting whatever it wants within seconds (thank you Google, Apple, TiVo, etc) it has to make life much tougher to be patient and remain interested in something that needs to develop and grow over time. That typical desire amongst ambitious people to shoot out of school like a cannonball hoping to make a difference in the world combined with the Gen Y need to get and accomplish everything NOW combined with the frustration of having to do the inevitable grunt work that comes with being at the bottom of the ladder combined with an unresponsive corporate environment and you have the perfect storm for sending Gen Y job hopping. In the case of LeBron James, I would say that his overwhelming desire to win and to win NOW is why he joined the job hopping club. It certainly wasn’t money, grunt work or an unresponsive corporate environment!

Gen Y In the Workplace

A great piece appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday by Rick Wartzman, who is working on a book I’m looking forward to about the change in the social contract between employers and employees since World War II. Rick wrote a balanced piece that overlaps with a lot of what Sharalyn Hartwell told us. He ultimately concludes that the trend is now inescapable that the labor force, in dealing with Gen Y, will find itself full of free agents like LeBron James. Rick puts some blame on employers for changing the way employees have been treated as a result of companies adjusting to a more competitive, global market and prioritizing shareholders over humans. However, he explains that the declining loyalty of Gen Y employees is “not merely a function of corporations being greedy” or fighting to survive in a competitive world. Instead, he uses data to show that Gen Y simply likes job hopping and values mobility over fidelity to their employers. Despite employer frustration with the Gen Y mindset, he says there are many positives about Gen Y for employers to tap into. They are “team-oriented, technologically savvy and committed to tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems”. Rick goes on to explain what employers can do to attract and retain top talent. I highly suggest reading his piece LeBron James: True To His Generation.


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