People are more likely to change jobs when they are younger and well educated, though not necessarily because they are more open to a new experience, according to a study.
Researchers from ETH Zurich in Switzerland and the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK analysed and compared the effects of individual characteristics and the economic context on career mobility.
They investigated what is more important for people to change their job – the current unemployment rate, their personal openness to new experiences, their age at the time of the job change, or their level of education.
The results, published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, show that people were more likely to change their organisations, industries, and occupations when they were younger, with the age effect being strongest.
“Whether individuals make a career transition depends undoubtedly on a range of factors,” said Dana Unger, a lecturer in UEA’s Norwich Business School.
“Our findings have immediate practical implications by improving our understanding of opportunities and hindrances for different kinds of career mobility,” Unger said.
People’s openness to new experiences did not play a role in them wanting to change their jobs, which was contrary to the researchers’ initial prediction.
However, higher levels of education and a lower unemployment rate were related to changing organisation, but unrelated to going into another occupation.
The results also showed that a good education was more important for employees to change into another industry than a positive situation in the labour market.
In recent decades, employees’ careers have changed significantly, with long-term employment with one organisation no longer the default career path, researchers said.
Career mobility has important implications for organisations, for example in terms of their strategic HR management and their success in attracting and retaining talented staff.
For employees, every successful job change potentially increases employability and future opportunities for advancing their career.
“For organisations, our results highlight the relevance of investing resources in career management programmes for employee retention. Investments in employees’ career opportunities might especially pay off in times of a favourable external labour market, when staff have many external options,” said Unger.