As a tail-end Boomer, I don't see current 20-somethings as "lazy and incompetent", but I know that my peers and I discuss the fact that Gen-Y seems to be motivated by different things than we were. In the context of the original discussion about job-hopping, I don't have any problem accepting that members of Gen-Y have different attitudes toward tenure in a particular job. However, as I mentioned in comments for a related posting, the issue from the employer's perspective isn't really whether they agree with your values, but whether they perceive hiring you as a good investment.
The costs of hiring someone are such that most companies want to be able to rely on the individual to stay in the role for at least 2 or 3 years. Furthermore, your value to the company increases rapidly as you gain experience in their particular business - they don't want to see that value walk out the door. Other posters in this discussion have suggested that the answer is for companies to make the job more interesting/rewarding, so that people will stay. I don't disagree with that - creating an environment that attracts and retains the best people is a critical success factor for IT organizations that I've worked with. However, when making a decision to hire, the employer can only consider the candidate's past track record, not some possible future where either the company or the candidate change behaviour.
I think this discussion may really be two separate questions: (1) is it reasonable for companies to discriminate against perceived "job-hoppers" when hiring, and (2) should companies adjust their practices to retain good employees? My answer to both would be a qualified "yes", although from some of the comments it seems like there are some people who would not stay at a company for more than a year or two regardless of the company's retention practices.
I know that myself and most of my peers would love to be loyal to something, we are eager to learn... We love to work hard and play hard. We're willing to learn the ropes - but we have no intention of working for the same company for all our adult lives - because we have seen many cases on our own eyes how that kind of attitude is less then beneficial.
But as mentioned elsewhere our bullshit tolerance levels are low.
I agree with you that costs of loosing productive people who understand context of their work is expensive. I don't agree with you that businesses care (at least not the ones I saw myself). Well maybe they care - but not enough to actually invest anything or seriously commit to solving the issue for themselves.
It's all just talk - yes they'd like if people would stay longer, but they "can't afford" to actually improve living and working conditions for their workers.
Just mgmt business as usual - improving sales and market position is hard, cutting expenses is easy, leave a trail of broken businesses behind on your path to glory.
I think that attitude's unusual. Most people would love to have conditions such that they can stay for 5-10 years at their next job, but are realistic enough to cut bait when the job isn't working out, from a career perspective.