One-in-four millennial workers would quit their jobs over a single out-of-hours demand from their boss, new study finds

Contacting your millennial worker with an out-of-work hours demand (even just once) would cause a quarter to quit, the recruitment platform Reed warns. — Getty Images/The New York Times

Tempted to contact your employee outside of working hours? Do it one too many times and there’s a high chance it’ll result in you receiving their resignation notice – especially if they’re a millennial.

That’s according to Reed, at least. The recruitment platform surveyed around 2,000 workers and found that even just one after-hours call-out is enough to put some millennial workers off their jobs for good.

Reed’s research revealed that over 60% of 35- to 44-year-olds in the UK would consider quitting over being asked to work on weekends. While the majority admitted that they’d only think about tossing the towel in if it became a regular occurrence, a quarter would do so if ever contacted outside of their working hours.

The youngest group of workers, 18- to 34-year-olds, are not far behind: 59% would be willing to move on to new pastures to protect their work-life balance, with 22% insisting that just one out-of-hours call from the boss is one too many.

In comparison, around 40% of those over 55 years old would consider quitting over out-of-hours contact, with 30% only doing so if it was a regular occurrence and 10% being put off their employer even if it was a one-off.

Big bucks and peanuts

Only a small select group of professionals are willing to be always on: Those who earn the big bucks and those making peanuts.

The very top earners in Britain banking over £100,000 (RM594,858) and the lowest earners on less than £10,000 (RM59,488) were the least likely to quit over regularly being contacted outside normal business hours (28%).

In comparison, one too many weekend calls from the boss would trigger over half of workers earning between £80,000 to £99,999 (RM475,926 to RM594,862) annually to consider handing in their resignation letter.

Excluding those in six-figure jobs, workers’ willingness to quit their jobs over weekend callouts generally declines as pay does.

CEOs rarely switch off

Nobody likes to work on their time off, but for those in CEO roles, it’s often part of the parcel.

The founder and CEO of Farmer J, a popular healthy fast-food chain in London, told Fortune that he’s never turned his out-of-office on – even during his honeymoon.

“If I switch off, I’m basically not pursuing my goals,” Jonathan Recanati said. “But if you enjoy doing it, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Anna Lundstrom, CEO of Nespresso’s UK and Ireland business, echoed to Fortune that she can be reached by her workforce on various platforms at any given moment, from Teams and email to WhatsApp and LinkedIn.

In Lundstrom’s eyes, being always available keeps her abreast of trends, her team, and the competition.

“I think I’d always rather know something than not,” she explained, adding that her phone is always within reach from the moment she wakes up.

“I would hate to miss something, to not be aware of something or to be tone deaf, you know? So that’s why I’m somebody who likes to be active and actively communicate because I feel like that feeds me with information.”

Meanwhile, Jim Rowley the CEO of gym chain Crunch Fitness, has said that “work-life balance is for somebody who’s not fully committed” and Bill Gates has similarly chimed that he “didn’t believe in vacations” and worked on the weekends while building Microsoft.

Young workers who want to get ahead should take note

It’s well known that for young workers today having a life outside of work is just as important to them (if not more so) as building a career.

Research has consistently shown that this generation will turn down offers from employers who don’t align with their values and walk out of jobs that don’t grant them the flexibility they desire. They would even rather work multiple jobs than one with traditional rigid hours, to better accommodate their out-of-work passions.

But it might come back to bite them: Pushing back on completing a 90-minute test post-interview cost one Gen Z job seeker the gig they had applied for.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor turned reality star Judge Judy said that young workers’ track record of resisting overtime could hinder their success.

“You only get a bad rap if you deserve it... If you have a bunch of kids entering the workforce who say, ‘I don’t like to work past four o’clock’, ‘I don’t work on Saturday’, ‘Sunday is football.’

“Well, if you want to be successful in what you do, you’re supposed to be first in the morning and close up shop. Somebody will notice that.”

Plus, if young workers want to keep their current freedoms, like working from home, then their bosses will likely expect them to be contactable from home – whether or not it’s during working hours.

At least that’s what Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary suggested when he noted the tradeoff for remote workers is “less private time on weekends.”

He said he feels free to call his employees at any time on any day of the week.

“That’s the deal. If you don’t work in the office, I can call you at two in the morning if we’ve got a crisis and they’re gonna answer.” – New York Times

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