Tactical Job Hopping in Remote Work

Stephanie Diana Eubank is a Silicon Valley Native recently relocated to the Central Valley of California. While finishing her Dissertation towards earning a Doctorate in Business Administration with a focus on Remote Work and Remote Leadership at Concordia University Chicago’s remote DBA program. Stephanie started her academic journey at California State University East Bay and moved on to Southern New Hampshire University where she completed her Masters in Operations Management with a focus in Project Management.

I don’t know about you but when I was making my first resume in high school the constant adage was that you shouldn’t look like you are job hopping.  You need to stay at a company for as long as you can it looks good on a resume. However, this has not been the case for many decades now.  Especially not in the remote work community pre and post-COVID.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of 2022, the average employee stays in the same role for 4.1 years but only stays at the same employer for an average of 3 years. So far, the data matches the average onsite worker as well. 

Since 2020 remote work has become more of a norm than the 5.7% before COVID remote workers jumped to 17.9% of all US workers in the US labor market per the Bureau of Labor and statistics as of 2020.  However, as of May 2022, 35.4% work remotely. As far as government works of the 2 million government employees in the United States, 36% work remotely as of the 2021 Bureau of Labor and Statistics whereas prior to 2020 only 2% worked remotely in the government sector.

For clarification, let’s define what tactical job-hopping means.  Tactical job hopping refers to the concept of leaving one job or company to go to another one within a 1–4-year time frame.  This specifically is done to either shift careers because of changes to the industry or personal changes, or to gain a higher title, or higher pay.  When discussing tactical job hopping, the concepts that are outside of an employee’s control, like industry-wide layoffs (like that constantly happens in the financial industry to the point it is almost suspicious if you have been at the same company more than four years) or jobs that have outsourced industry-wide or have faded out due to automation.

Now that semantics are out of the way let’s address another reason that people use tactical job hopping that they won’t say in an interview.  Tactical Job Hopping to escape a toxic work environment. This reason is especially true for remote workers. There is an adage that people don’t quit jobs they quit managers.  Well, this can also be the case for tactical job hopping.

Also, yes, it is possible to create a toxic work environment in a remote workplace.  Unfortunately, it is an easier task in a remote workplace than one might want to think about.  The ease of developing a toxic remote workplace environment is often due to managers not being taught to manage and when they are they are not instructed how to manage a remote workplace.  Remote work takes a different kind of management style.  As I have researched and published before remote leadership must lead with empathy, true authenticity, and communicate in a more inclusive and creative way. Where remote work has room to build healthy leadership boundaries it takes more effort to show respect and openness to employees as a leader in remote work.

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When leadership is toxic tactical job hopping allows both onsite and remote workers to find an organizational culture that addresses these issues.  Being able to leave a work situation that is toxic is not only liberating but, it allows for employees to prioritize their mental health and prevent burn out.  When employees prevent burn out through things like quiet quitting (establishing healthy boundaries) and acting their wage (prioritizing a work and life balance for better mental health without hurting chain of command or leaving themselves open to being pigeonholed into one job or career field) burn out is prevented and helps to not just better productivity in an organization but also helps keep a stable economy moving by having a stable workforce.

This helps break the toxic work culture concept of staying for the sake of a resume duration to show a new company.  When tactical job hopping is considered by an employer, we prevent burn out and embrace new hires that are talented and emotionally mature. Tactical job hopping to not stay at a toxic workplace by not following the old construct of staying in the same company until they are done with you helps break the toxic work culture by breaking the cycle and not staying at a company longer than one should. Staying in a toxic workplace too long can cause workplace PTSD and this can take years of working in a nontoxic work environment and therapy to lessen the stress of workplace PTSD.

Which begs the question as Organizational Leadership what can be done to prevent this in an onsite and remote workplace?

  1. Have Human Resources (HR) learn to spot signs of poor leadership and not just regard it as people leaving for just better pay or benefits. Investigate high turnover. 
  2. Invest in training managers how to manage. Don’t just assume if they are good at their job, they can lead your team.
  3. Train your managers how to manage a remote workplace. Remote leadership is a different ball game all together.
    1. If you are having trouble knowing where to start developing remote leadership trainings check out my new consulting firm
  4. Also hiring leaders who are not typically those you think about for leadership in remote workplaces is another good idea. People who are better with interpersonal communications. If you want to learn more about what types of leadership works best in a remote workplace check out my consulting firm’s website and social media.

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