Why Millennial Military Officers Intend to Leave the Military


Author/Creator ORCID




School of Public Policy


Public Policy

Citation of Original Publication


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Millennial employees are those born between 1982 and 1999 and now make up more than a third of the workforce within the United States (Pew Research, 2016). They are characterized as diverse, highly educated, and more technological than previous generations (Stewart et al, 2017). Similar to previous generations, millennials are motivated by a range of factors: job satisfaction, pay satisfaction, professional development, and good promotion potential (Ertas, 2015; Stewart et al, 2017). Despite this commonality, millennials are more likely to leave their job than any other generation across both private and public sectors (Stewart et al, 2017). Millennials are the only generation that does not exhibit a positive relationship between workplace culture and organizational commitment (Stewart et al, 2017). This behavior poses challenges across many employment sectors, especially in the U.S. military. Limited research has examined the turnover intentions of millennials, especially within the public service sector. Little research has examined millennial military officers and no research has examined the motivational factors that drive millennial officers’ intentions to leave military service. This research examined the underlying reasons behind these officers’ intentions to leave the military service. This research study utilized mixed methods for data collection and analysis. The Anticipated Turnover Scale (ATS) survey (Hinshaw & Atwood, 1978) was used to identify two groups of millennial officers – one group who show an intent to leave the military and another group who show no intent to leave the military. Interviews of open-ended, lightly structured questions were conducted to identify themes that pertain to specific work motivations, job satisfaction, and intent to leave. The researcher conducted primary and secondary coding to identify themes and identify the intention to leave within the group. Findings show the Anticipated Turnover Scale survey was a reliable predictor of intent to leave for millennial military officers. The results also showed some generational motivations, such as consistent personal encouragement by bosses and a level of expected career attainment. The study also showed there were consistent findings of Life Stage theory, such as the desire to focus more on family and concern for career risk-taking.