Dr. Andrew Peña: Hispanic Generation X & Millennial Employees: Why Do They Leave? Stay?

Posted: Apr 21 2014

By Dr. Andrew M. Peña, SPHR, MBA
Assistant Vice-President for Human Resource Services
New Mexico State University

            There was a time when employers could expect their staff to “stay put” until retirement. Those days, along with the guaranteed pension plans that came with them, are gone. Today's employers face higher turnover rates than at any other time in history. The younger generations just don't seem to have the staying power their parents and grandparents had. What happens to an organization when its best and brightest employees are walking out the door? Why would they leave, and what might make them stay? Could those reasons be based on their generational affiliation, whether they are members of Generation X or Millennials? 

            During my tenure as director of human resources for a predominantly Hispanic-serving state University, I studied generational issues while pursuing my doctoral degree. I was interested in answering some of these questions with a specific focus on employees within an institution of higher education. My study focused on three generational groups: Baby Boomers (1946–1964); Generation X (Gen. X) (1965–1980); and Millennials (1981–2000). The oldest generation represented at the University, Veterans/Silents (1914-1945), were excluded from the study. 

The study examined exempt and non-exempt classified employees, excluding faculty and other staff. It was divided into two parts. The first focused on why Gen. X and Millennial employees elected to remain employed at this institution, whether they might consider leaving, and if those reasons were related to their association with a particular generational group. That portion of the study is the subject of this article.

This study was conducted using an online survey utilizing Qualtrics as the survey and data analysis tool. Respondents were asked questions geared towards discovering whether their reasons for either remaining or leaving employment were related to their generational categories. Other questions related to the general job and work environment, community involvement, compensation and benefits, and demographic information. The survey, administered in September 2012, was anonymous in nature and used a simple Likert scale. It was distributed to the e-mail addresses of 397 active employees who were born from 1965 to 1994 and worked in selected and segmented categories. At the conclusion of the two-week period allowed for the survey, 200 of the 397 surveys had been initiated, but only 148 were completed, for a completion rate of sixty-nine percent. The survey ultimately received a 37% response rate. 

The majority of the respondents were married Gen. X’ers, primarily of Hispanic origin, who were born in the city, or the surrounding area, and had spent a considerable time in the area. This was an important point as it established that the respondents have a strong connection to the community. In regards to education, the majority of the sample possessed a bachelor’s degree, and for some, a graduate degree.

Depending on their generational cohort, respondents earned an average annual salary from $25,000 to $55,000, a decent salary range for the community. In terms of length of service, Gen. X’ers had the longer tenure based on the number of years that they had already invested at the University. The Millennial length of service was low, as had been expected. However, Millennials are also the youngest group of employees employed at this time. Within the next two decades, the Millennial employees will outnumber Gen. X’ers and will, by that time, have earned a respectable level of job tenure.

-Continued: Click Here for Part 2 Generation X & Millennial Hispanic Employees

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