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Abstract

Building commitment and preventing costly turnover of technical employees are key challenges facing organizations today. We examine whether the elements of the employment relationship that predict commitment and willingness to change companies vary significantly with age. Using a sample of over 3000 technical professionals from six large companies, we find that in comparison to those under 30, satisfaction with job security is more strongly related to the commitment of more senior workers (ages 31–45 and those over age 45) and to their desire to remain with their companies. In contrast, satisfaction with work–life balance is more strongly related to commitment of those under age 30 than those over 30. Also, for the under-30s, satisfaction with opportunities to develop technical skills and pay linked to individual performance has a stronger negative relationship with willingness to change companies than for those over 45. While statistically significant, the size of the age effects is small, suggesting popular and managerial attention devoted to differences among age groups may be overblown. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.