Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Is There a Job-Jumping Gene?

Discusses the possible reason for workers who cannot hold down a steady job. How genes influences employee satisfaction; Result of the study which determines how biology affects job permanence.

Memo to workers who can't hold down a steady job: it could be partly genetic.While studies have suggested that genes influence employee satisfaction, researchers have for the first time linked genetic factors to job turnover.

Using genetic data and questionnaires from 2401 pairs of identical and fraternal twins, University of Minnesota researcher Brian McCall, Ph.D., calculated the siblings' job satisfaction levels, their work values (such as whether they enjoyed challeges), and the frequency with which they switched jobs and fields. Genetic factors, McCall reports in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, explained a third of the twins' job changes and 26 percent of their career changes Even when work values and job satisfaction were accounted for, one in five job changes and 15 percent of career switches were attributed to genetic factors.

While McCall believes this study is a promising first step in determining how biology affects job permanence, he notes that the job data recorded for each subject didn't distinguish between voluntary and involuntary departures. So it's unclear whether genes influence the tendency to quit jobs--or a talent for getting fired.

ILLUSTRATION