It is my pleasure to draw your attention to a great paper produced by three students at the University of British Columbia. Grace Hsu, Geoff Roeder, and Andrew Lee produced a paper for their Statistics 450 course with Dr. Gabriela Cohen Freue which was put in for a student research contest. The paper, Analysis of Factors Affecting Resignations of University Employees won an honourable mention for the contest.
The paper identifies that “Millennials do not exhibit a practically significant different length of employment compared to other generational groups.” That is, that although those born after 1975 have a high quit rate right now, they are passing through a high-turnover age group. Prior generations that passed through the 25-34 year old age group in years past, themselves had high quit rates.
Getting more to the point… “This finding disrupts stereotyped representations of generational factors in the workforce and suggests that younger employees resigning sooner can be better explained as a feature of their age rather than their generational group.” My guess is that age 25-34 is when people figure out their career, partners, and housing, with some things changing a few times before getting stable.
Working with twenty years of data covering 7000 staff who quit, their data model chose “years of service” as the variable that would be explained by other data points. If we could predict the number of years a new hire would stay, this might be something an employer could improve. That is, assuming it was not illegal to pre-judge. Thankfully, their findings suggest we should not pre-judge.
Years of service prior to quitting averaged 1.2 to 1.9 years for 25-to-34 year olds, and 4.3 to 5.5 years amongst 35-to-44 year olds. There were small differences between generations, but not in a manner that strengthened a stereotype. For example Generation X quit more quickly when they were younger, but stuck around for longer once they were 35-44. Baby Boomers were not always big on job loyalty, being the quickest to quit in the 35-to-44 age bracket.
One more thing… men and women do not have a big difference in their length of service. When sizing-up job candidates for staying power, it is not just unfair and illegal to favour men; it is wrong on the facts. Keep that in your back pocket next time you help with hiring.