Job Hopping & Its Influence on Professional Sports

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Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there were people who actually stayed committed to their professional careers and stuck with their jobs. That sounds crazy, right? Especially with all of the job hopping going on in today’s working world. Well it’s not really crazy at all, in fact the baby boomer generation were known for their loyalty to their jobs and serving long-term careers.

First let’s define the word career, as per Google’s definition for the term.

“Career: an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.”


Two words stand out in that definition and I think we all notice it: significant period. Obviously a significant period is subject to opinion, but regardless of how long people consider significant to be, it’s likely longer than the average working period of young people. People in their 20s on average change jobs every 18 months (CBS News). Yes, you read that correctly, young workers are changing jobs on average in just a year and a half, which to me (a worker in my 20s), is far from significant.

I write this post not to rag on young workers—I am myself a young worker. I fit the demographic of workers that so many older generations don’t understand. There are many positives to job hopping, even positive outcomes for employers who hire job-hoppers.

Job Hopping

The term “job-hoppers” has become the label for workers in the last ten years; a new generation of workers that have flipped the idea of long serving careers upside down. Young workers are not all interested in settling down with one employer and a job that they hold for the rest of their working lives. Even older demographics have adopted the change, and in recent years more and more long serving employees are considering a change in direction.

Many people think that job hopping betrays employers, and throws loyalty out of the window. Others think job hopping is simply working people finding better opportunities to grow or be successful. No matter where you stand on the subject, it’s best to accept that job hopping is part of today’s working world. We even see job hopping in the spotlight, as some of the most famous professional athletes are no longer sticking with one team from draft to retirement.

Job Hopping in Professional Sports

Although some athletes job-hop more than others, we want to look at some of the most famous athletes who had a change of heart. Job hopping does not necessarily mean that a person is employed by several organizations; it could be a long serving career and a quick change of direction. Job hopping is simply making change, or disrupting your career path, and professional athletes have recently become notorious for it.

Here’s a list of superstars, franchise players and talented athletes who decided to make drastic career changes:

Dwayne Wade

dwaynewadeNBA fan or not, there has been a ton of media coverage following one of the craziest offseasons in the association’s history. Free agency this past month absolutely shocked the world as fans watched franchise players pack up and leave teams that they had spent their whole careers with.

Dwayne Wade played 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, winning three NBA rings and racking up a whole lot of franchise leading statistics. Wade will go down as the greatest to ever wear the Miami Heat jersey, but this month, the franchise's most iconic player is set to move to Chicago. The Chicago Bulls are thrilled to have the 12 time NBA All-Star join fellow rising star Jimmy Butler.

So where is Wade’s loyalty? A question that many Heat fans are asking themselves. Well the answer is simple: Dwayne Wade saw an opportunity for himself. Although it involves leaving a team he spent 13 successful seasons with, he ultimately chose what was best for him.

Wade is a native of Chicago, and his family ties run deep into the history of that city. The Miami Heat seemed to undervalue their star, and offered up a contract that was declined by Wade. Whether it was money or family, Dwayne Wade made up his mind to leave. A future hall of fame athlete who shows that job hopping isn’t so uncommon, even after 13 long seasons.

HOT Hot tip for the workplace: Allow employees the ability to prioritize their lives accordingly. It’s essential to recognize that these priorities shift frequently. For example, if someone in your employee’s family is in a car accident, their priority might be sitting with them in the hospital. If your employee is about to complete a big piece of content they've been committed to, their top priority is likely work. Many companies have found greater productivity by offering employees greater flexibility—find the balance that is good for you and your employees.

Greg Jennings

gregjenningsIn the twilight of his career, Greg Jennings is mainly remembered for his contributions to a super bowl winning team in Green Bay. Jennings was a star as a member of the Green Bay Packers, and is remembered for wearing the green and yellow. Jennings had potential of becoming a hall-of-fame player with Green Bay, but he packed up and left the Packers for the Vikings instead.

Things were just starting to get good for Jennings, until he suffered a leg injury in 2011. Two receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, stepped up to fill the gap in Jennings’ absence. When Jennings returned, he was no longer the feature receiver and stepped out of the spotlight. This lead to immature tantrums and social media blow ups at quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In 2013, Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings and left the team that took a chance on him seven years earlier.

Since then, Jennings has not been the same player he was in Green Bay. The grass isn’t always greener. Even when professionals think that there is something better on the other end, this goes to show that sometimes job hopping doesn’t pay off after all. Jennings had his reasons to sign elsewhere. He obviously was unhappy in Green Bay, and couldn’t handle losing his spotlight.

HOTHot tip for the workplace: The grass isn’t always greener. If your employees are looking at opportunities outside their current role, they need to be sure that the move is something they really want. It’s easy to get into a lull at work, and having the ability to recognize if it’s something you can get through or if it will persist takes a lot of research and thought. Employers who recognize difficult times for their employees and acknowledge them can build a trusting, thoughtful relationship.

Kevin Durant

kevindurantNow here was the story of the summer: Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City to join the league’s most powerful force in Golden State. On July 4 2016, KD left the only franchise that he has ever known. Spending eight years in Oklahoma City, nobody would have predicted the young star leaving.

Kevin Durant vocalized that he had no intentions of leaving OKC. In fact, he said he wanted to retire his jersey there and that Oklahoma City was home for him. Well, evidently things have changed for Durant.

Durant is set to leave his legacy behind in Oklahoma, and move to the sunshine state to join reigning MVP Stephen Curry.

Here we see another case of job hopping, and a case that has received major media attention. What motivates a player to job-hop and switch teams? In this case, the opportunity for Durant to win his first championship seems to be the motivator.

HOTHot tip for the workplace: Looking to leave a career takes a lot of thought, especially when you’re at the top of your game. If you find a move you want to make, make sure there’s room for growth—will you be working with new technologies? Faced with challenging tasks? Durant is moving to a championship team where he might not be the best player on the team, giving him room to grow.

Alex Rodriguez

ARODThis is one of baseball’s favorite players to hate. Yes, it can be justified as he has been caught using performance enhancing drugs—nobody likes a cheater. Another reason people don’t like Alex Rodriguez is that he left the team who drafted him and gave him a chance for more money.

Starting his professional career at 18 years old, Alex Rodriguez showcased his talents early. After playing seven seasons with Seattle, he was offered one of the most outrageous contracts in professional sports history: 10 years for $252 million dollars by the Texas Rangers. As you guessed, the young Rodriguez signed the richest contract to date in the MLB. He later topped his own record when he signed for $275 million with the New York Yankees in 2007.

A-rod is currently playing out the remaining years of his major contract with the Yankees. It’s fitting that one of baseball’s most hated players will be remembered for playing with one of baseball’s most hated franchises.

Let’s take a second to recognize the decision that a young Alex Rodriguez made in his early 20s. He left the franchise who drafted him for more than a quarter billion dollars. Can you blame this guy? With his signature he instantly became one of the richest people in the world. Job hopping in this case was completely influenced by money, but sometimes financial incentives are what motivate employees.

HOTHot tip for the workplace: Keeping good employees isn’t easy. Building a workplace culture where people want to be is essential, and there is a lot of insight into how to keep your most valuable employees. Although being compensated fairly is important (and workers know that), it is often other variables that cause employee churn.

Daniel Alfredsson

danielalfredssonWe can see that job hopping is not just a case in the NBA, MLB or NFL. Job hopping exists in every sport, including the NHL.

Daniel Alfredsson played 18 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, 14 of which he was the captain. Ottawa is a team that came as an expansion into the league in 1992. Alfredsson had almost two decades of playing for the red and white, and suddenly approaching his nineteenth NHL season, he joined another red and white team.

Alfredsson joined the Detroit Red Wings in 2013 and left Senators fans with their jaws hanging. Alfredsson has since retired from the NHL, and is back with the Senators working as a member of the head office team.

Daniel Alfredsson was 40 years old when he had a change of heart, which is really uncommon in any sport or even in a corporate setting. Why did he leave? Alfredsson took a risk, as he saw a chance to win a Stanley Cup with a great team and coaching staff in Detroit.

HOTHot tip for the workplace: Give good employees the chance to accomplish their goals with you. In the case of a professional sports team, it might not be so easy, but allowing your workers to aim for the hypothetical Stanley Cup can be. When they have great achievements, those accomplishments reflect well on your company, too.

Job Hopping Can Be Justified            

There are plenty of cases in sport where players have changed organizations, I chose to talk about a few of the larger names. No matter which player or which case, employees don’t take pleasure leaving their employers high and dry.

Often, the grass is greener on the other side. There is always incentive when it comes to job hopping. Many millennials aren’t considered as loyal to their jobs, because often, they have a different framework with which they view the world. They want different things out of their careers than their parents did. In professional sports, we see money influencing players, championship opportunities or dislike of management. Much like the corporate world, money, success or dislike for management can lead young people to job-hop onto the next opportunity.

People are always looking for something better, for career advancement or for a way to better their lives. Job hopping means risk taking, and people are not always rewarded for their willingness to change direction. With the idea of changing job direction becoming so widely adopted, it’s no surprise we are seeing it reflected more often in professional sports as well.

In the business setting, corporate world and tech world, job hopping is happening more and more frequently. Although it’s extremely frustrating for employers and hiring staff to bring on new people over and over, it’s something that companies must accept. Change is inevitable, and it’s happening more than ever, whether we like it or not. The only real way to fight it is to offer employees a good workplace culture, fair treatment and transparency.

Zachary Yuzdepski

Zach is a marketing analyst at Vendasta, where he is constantly learning about all things digital marketing and ping pong.