Should I stay or should I go? - New study explores the mentality of working for the same company until retirement

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A recent study by indicates that people who prefer seeking greener pastures rather than sticking with the same employer for their entire career are more likely to have a negative work attitude, limited self-control, and a hunger for reward and recognition.

Sticking to a company for the long-term may seem old fashioned, but “settler” types are reliable, hard-working people.

Job-hoppers are not just unreliable, they can also be antagonistic, impulsive, and less likely to work hard without an incentive.

People who quit out of boredom, ego, or defiance not only do their employer a great disservice, they also hurt their chances of finding employment elsewhere.

Industrial psychologist Edwin E. Ghiselli coined the term “Hobo Syndrome” to describe people who feel an urge to leave a job after a short period of time without a logical reason. Although they might rationalize their decision to move on, Ghiselli believed this desire to wander was more of an impulse, “perhaps not unlike those that cause birds to migrate.” There are certainly benefits to seeking greener pastures, including new opportunities for growth and perhaps a higher salary, but a study by researchers at reveals that there is more to job-hoppers than the desire for a new adventure.

Analyzing data collected from 801 people who took the Turnover Probability Test, PsychTests’ researchers examined two groups of people: those who believe in the mentality of sticking with the same company for their entire career (“Settlers”), and those who don’t (“Nomads”). Here’s what the study revealed:

> 40% of Nomads admitted that while they may give the appearance of being hard workers, it isn’t always true (compared to 19% of Settlers).
> 32% view their supervisors or managers as adversaries (compared to 16% of Settlers).
> 21% said that they distrust their colleagues (compared to 10% of Settlers).
> 32% would badmouth a company if they don’t like a job (compared to 18% of Settlers).
> 29% believe that managers should take the blame if an employee quits (compared to 14% of Settlers).
> 17% believe it's the manager's responsibility to make employees love their job (compared to 5% of Settlers).
> 44% don't give a new job a fair chance. If they don't like their work within the first few months, they will immediately look for another job (compared to 14% of Settlers).
> 30% believe that if they don't like their job then quitting is the only solution (compared to 10% of Settlers).

> 49% of Nomads need their accomplishments to be praised in order to feel good about what they have achieved (compared to 27% of Settlers).
> 62% said that the best way a manager can motivate them is to offer an appealing reward (compared to 31% of Settlers). In fact, 58% of Nomads admitted that they will only work hard if they are given bonuses or some kind of reward in return (compared to 31% of Settlers).
> 57% said that the most crucial criteria they look for when job-searching are the salary and benefits package (compared to 29% of Settlers). Interestingly, 25% also stated that they would be willing to quit a job they like for a less interesting one if it came with a higher salary (compared to 11% of Settlers).

PsychTests’ researchers also investigated the factors that would compel Nomads and Settlers to quit a job. Although the two groups shared three out of the five big reasons, their order of importance, as well as the areas where they differed, were noteworthy:

1. Ethical conflict - having to complete tasks or make decisions that go against their morals
2. Working for unethical leaders
3. Inadequate financial compensation or recognition
4. Management making false promises
5. Being constantly overlooked for a promotion

1. No room for growth or advancement
2. Ethical conflict - having to complete tasks or make decisions that go against their morals
3. Working for unethical leaders
4. Management making false promises
5. Feeling unproductive, unmotivated, or disengaged

“The idea of staying with the same company until retirement may seem old-fashioned to some people. It’s a mentality that goes back to post-war times where economic crises made jobs scarce,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “You were lucky to be employed, even if you hated your job. Nowadays, changing companies at least a few times over a 40-or-more-year career is far more common and socially accepted. However, even though younger generations are often accused of being opportunistic job-hoppers, statistics from the U.S. Bureau indicate that the average amount of time people 16 years and older stick to the same job has increased over the past two decades. In 1983, it was 3.5 years; in 2018 and 2020, it was 4.2 years and 4.1 respectively.”

“Of course, there are plenty of viable reasons to leave a job - mistreatment, a toxic atmosphere, a lack of opportunity for learning and growth, a lack of work-life balance that is impacting your mental health, or even a desire to start your own business,” continues Dr. Jerabek. “However, in cases where you are unhappy about some aspect of your job such as the salary, the lack of variability in your tasks, or inefficient processes, it’s always better to talk to your manager or someone higher up to see if changes can be made. Essentially, quitting isn’t your only option. People who quit out of boredom, ego, or defiance not only do their employer a great disservice, they also hurt their chances of finding employment elsewhere. Astute HR managers can pick up on job-hopping tendencies in resumes, and may be less likely to hire someone who is always looking to see if the grass is greener on the other side. And as our study pointed out, nomads are problematic not simply because of their tendency to quit, but also the fact that they can be difficult to please and to manage.”

Want to assess your probability for turnover? Check out the Turnover Probability Test, by visiting:

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see

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Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D
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