The Vancouver Sun, Canada, recently reported on a trend of younger generations of workers taking sabbaticals from their work. We’re talking about young people working for 3 or 4 years, and then resigning to take a 6 month break – normally involving travel and adventure. The report (read it here), quoted a larger study:
According to the Families and Work Institute (FWI), Gen-Y employees were very likely to leave their current job in 2002 (70%) compared to their counterparts in 1977 (52%). Comparing data from its National Study of the Changing Workforce conducted in 1992, 1997 and 2002 to the 1977 Quality of Employment Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, the FWI discovered how employees have changed over generations.
Employees belonging to Generation X (age 23 to 37) and Generation Y (age 18 to 22) are drastically different than the baby boomers who preceded them, reports the FWI. Many Generation Xers and Yers come from households where one or both parents work, and many of these young employees have known someone who has lost their job because of workplace downsizing.
They have seen the shift from relative job security to lessening employer loyalty. Generation Xers and Yers have also witnessed the volatile labour force of the early 1990s, the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the uncertain economy of the past several years, reports the FWI.
This has shaped young employees’ perspective on work and life. The institute found that unlike “work-centric” boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y are generally more “dual-centric,” placing the same priority on work and family, or “family-centric,” placing a higher priority on family than work.
Another study by the FWI, Catalyst and Boston College found that dual-centric workers advance farther in their career, have better mental health, greater satisfaction with life and more job satisfaction than work-centric employees.
Taking a break can be difficult in professions where seniority matters, or if there is a union in place, says Mill. It could also be difficult to walk away from traditional industries like professional services or law. If your ambition is to be a partner at a law firm and you take an extended break while your colleagues down the hall are working 70 hours a week, partnership may not be in your immediate future.
But those who have a skill that is in demand, such as information technology professionals and accountants like Rodgers, will not likely be affected by a pause in their career, says Mill.