By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
Close your eyes and envision a nomadic tribe. Have you got it?
For me, I see wilderness, camels, and groups of people who, out of necessity and tradition, go from place to place to find rich lands to farm, hunt and live. Another scenario I see is the nomadic tribe being pushed out of their community because they are no longer welcome.
The dictionary describes a nomad as “a member of a people or tribe that has no permanent abode as they move from place to place”.
We can probably see similarities between traditional descriptions of nomads and what’s being termed today as a “career nomad.” Whether it’s Millennials, Gen Z, or even Boomers, it’s true that people are on the move, more than at any time in recent history. Many people are moving because they want something better – their movement isn’t out of necessity but a perceived benefit.
Why give career nomads a break? From my perspective, many of us have raised our children to always strive to better themselves. The company is often secondary to fulfillment. If they don’t like their environment, find a better spot. If they are not treated fairly, find a better place. Lastly, if there is a big opportunity before them, then we would encourage them to go for it. We encouraged our children to find happiness.
Adapting to Career Nomads
That’s only half the story, at least in the Mantella household. We also wanted our children to not give up and to stick things out and to understand that whatever they do in life, it’s not going to be an easy ride. If it’s worth doing, there will be tough days. There will be days full of stress and people/stakeholders they won’t like. Making money is nice but money doesn’t buy happiness. So, yes, we gave mixed messages because the messages are mixed. There are pros and cons to being a career nomad. I will add that our three grown children are very loyal to their companies and their careers. It’s been their decision.
As leaders, we need to accept that when good opportunities stand before people, they may choose to leave. It doesn’t always seem fair to the company. For example, if we plow a lot of resources into the development of a recruit and they leave within the first six months, that doesn’t feel fair to me. Yet, let’s not always point the finger their way because we need to look in the mirror and analyze the WHY. Perhaps it was a bad hiring decision (which pre-hire assessments can help to avoid). Or maybe the culture was rancid.
Five Ways we can Retain Top Talent
The best we can do to retain our good people is to create a culture and environment where they want to stay. Korn Ferry recently completed a related study that 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 wellbeing.
5. Strategizing rewards and benefits.
Finally, I participated in a panel discussion at SOAHR 2022 that addressed a movement called Conscious Capitalism (CC). Companies that are following the CC movement understand that having a purpose beyond the bottom line is important. Most everyone, but particularly the younger generation, wants to see their employers focus beyond making money. They are interested in the impact the company is having on its employees, stakeholders, and the environment. Another reason to give career nomads a break.