Is turnover a generational thing? 12 reasons why we quit our jobs

by | Dec 27, 2018 | Public Relations

A 2016 survey conducted by Deloitte indicates that by the year 2020, two in three Millennials are expected to hand in their resignation and quit their job. But it’s not just a salary issue, according to research from PsychTests—and turnover isn’t a plague of the young either. The researchers call attention to factors all employers will need to look out for if they hope to keep talented employees, both younger and older.

Analyzing data from nearly 500 people who took their Turnover Probability Test, researchers found the reasons for quitting weren’t limited to one or two grievances, and were not the same across generations. Here’s what their study revealed:

Reason #1: Practicality

(e.g., long commute, company in bad neighborhood)

  • Millennials: 31%
  • Generation X: 38%
  • Baby Boomers: 37%

Millennials are willing to tolerate some inconveniences for a good job, but Generation Xers and Boomers are less likely to do so.

Reason #2: Personal issues

(e.g., illness, care for ailing family member)

  • Millennials: 40%
  • Generation X: 32%
  • Baby Boomers: 40%

Surprisingly, both Millennials and Boomers are equally likely to quit their job to become a caregiver, or if their own well-being was at risk.

Reason #3: Lack of work/life balance

  • Millennials: 50%
  • Generation X: 43%
  • Baby Boomers: 40%

Millennials want to be able to set clear boundaries between their work life and their personal life. While they are dedicated to their job, they clearly grasp the concept of working to live, not living to work.

Reason #4: Office politics

  • Millennials: 39%
  • Generation X: 50%
  • Baby Boomers: 42%

Some people are willing to do anything to reach the top of the ladder, including sucking up to the boss, stealing credit for good ideas, gossiping or spreading rumors, as well as backstabbing and lying. This particular pet peeve bothers Generation Xers the most, as many of them are in the prime of their career and have worked hard to climb the ranks.

Reason #5: Sexual harassment

  • Millennials: 45%
  • Generation X: 40%
  • Baby Boomers: 42%

All three generations seem to agree that sexual harassment does not belong in the workplace, with nearly half showing a willingness to quit as a result of being exposed to inappropriate and unwanted advances in the office.

Reason #6: Bullying

  • Millennials: 52%
  • Generation X: 50%
  • Baby Boomers: 58%

Bullying isn’t limited to the schoolyard anymore, and perhaps never was. This is an issue employers need to take a serious look at, as the impact of workplace bullying on employees can be quite serious. More than half of the three generations would quit if they were bullied at work.

Reason #7: Micromanagement

  • Millennials: 33%
  • Generation X: 36%
  • Baby Boomers: 47%

A nitpicky, controlling manager is enough to drive any employee crazy, but it appears to be a major pet peeve for almost half of Baby Boomers. This may be particularly true for those who have decades of work experience and therefore, don’t want or need to have their hand held by overly involved manager.

Reason #8: Being underpaid or undercompensated

  • Millennials: 54%
  • Generation X: 45%
  • Baby Boomers: 44%

An unfair salary isn’t the only reason Millennials would quit, but it is one of the main ones. Most Millennials are likely to know the salary standards of their industry, and are not afraid to ask for what they want. They may also be more willing than other generations to risk instability and seek employment elsewhere if their salary desires are not met, a luxury, many Generation Xers and Boomers cannot afford, given their mortgages, other debt, and a growing family.

Reason #9: No room for growth or advancement

  • Millennials: 53%
  • Generation X: 49%
  • Baby Boomers: 33%

With many Millennials starting their career or wanting to firmly establish it, moving up is important. The Millennials hired today are likely to want to be the managers of tomorrow. A dead-end job with no room to grow is enough to compel more than half of Millennials to walk out the door.

Reason #10: Boredom and/or lack of challenge

  • Millennials: 50%
  • Generation X: 47%
  • Baby Boomers: 54%

While a lack of upward mobility may not matter much to Boomers – as many may have already climbed to the top of the ranks – a lack of challenge DOES bother them. Baby Boomers don’t mind hard work and want their skills to be put to good use. They hate to be bored and unproductive, as do Millennials and Generation Xers, to a slightly lesser degree.

Reason #11: Starting a business

  • Millennials: 36%
  • Generation X: 29%
  • Baby Boomers: 30%

More than a third of Millennials have entrepreneurial aspirations, which means, if the right opportunity came along, they would be willing to leave a steady, stable job to break out on their own into the business world.

Reason #12: Struggling company

  • Millennials: 26%
  • Generation X: 27%
  • Baby Boomers: 16%

If a company is struggling financially, some Millennials and Generation Xers won’t hesitate to abandon ship (and Boomers, to a much lesser extent). But loyalty and organizational commitment isn’t something these generational groups take lightly. As PsychTests’ stats reveal, most employees are willing to stick with their company through thick and thin.

“In terms of likelihood of turnover, our study revealed no significant differences between groups,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests, in a news release “Essentially, Millennials are no more likely than other cohorts to quit their job, which may be counter to what many organizations have been led to believe as a result of back-lashing articles denouncing Millennial employees.

“What’s important for managers to take note of is, of the 14 reasons why employees would quit their job, at least half are a result of circumstances that can be controlled. For example, bullying, harassment, and office politics are issues managers must take more seriously, and perhaps even go as far as to adopt a no-tolerance policy. Micromanaging tendencies can be avoided by promoting managers based on more than just their technical knowledge—they must also have the emotional intelligence and personality to lead,” Dr. Jerabek added.

“The point is, when it comes to turnover, it’s not an external issue; it’s not a simple matter of selfish, money hungry employees. If your company’s turnover rate is high (and/or higher than the average rates in your industry), it’s time to take a serious look at not just your hiring process, but also engagement, morale, employee compensation, employee motivation, and stress levels company wide,” she concluded.

Assess your likelihood of quitting your job here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter