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Is job loyalty a thing of the past?

The Post recently shared a story about Paulette Lambert of Kannapolis who has been working for Cannon Memorial YMCA for 50-plus years. During an interview, Lambert noted some things about her job that have made it easier for her to stick with it for so long.

Above all, she believed in the YMCA’s mission, and she cited multiple times over the decades when she has been proud of the Y’s role in the community — times, for example, when the Y led the way in integration or helped families after the Pillowtex closing in 2003. Lambert said she still likes to go to work each morning, and that’s impressive after a half century of so many bosses, coworkers and changes in technology that sometimes devour the weak of heart.

Employees such as Lambert lend considerable stability to the companies and organizations for whom they work. It’s hard not to think of Salisbury Motor Co. without salesman Bill Sides, or Dr. Rudy Busby’s former practice without office manager Helen Brown. How much different Salisbury’s downtown might have been in the past without the dedication of people such as Joe Taylor at Belk or Al Hoffman at Hardiman’s Furniture. Over more than 50 years of reporting and writing, the late Rose Post became synonymous with the Salisbury Post.

These examples of job loyalty, in today’s world, are extremely rare. The Bureau of Labor Statistics took a close look at the question of how many jobs the typical U.S. worker will hold in his or her career, and the answers were interesting, but maybe not surprising.

On average, Americans aged 18 to 44 held an average of 11 jobs between 1978 and 2008. To employers, a lot of information is contained in that one finding. As if hiring employees wasn’t hard enough, keeping them is even harder.

The average worker today stays at each job 4.4 years, according to the latest labor statistics. But according to a Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey, 91 percent of millennials (the age group born between 1977 and 1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years. At that rate, millennials could expect to have 15 to 20 jobs over their working lives.

It used to be, and maybe still is, that human resource officers would red-flag resumes which showed a job applicant as someone who moved from job to job. But millennials have seen their parents go through the carnage of layoffs, and they know job security today doesn’t carry the same meaning it once did.

Today’s young workers often see themselves as free agents, believing job-hopping can work to their advantage in speeding career advancement, broadening their skills, putting them in a wider variety of roles and workplaces and avoiding being trapped in dead-end jobs.

Baby Boomers such as Lambert looked for a job with stability so they could raise a family, save for their kids’ college education and set up their retirement years. It was a bonus, as with Lambert, when they also were able to find fulfillment and happiness at work.

And that’s the interesting thing about today’s younger workers. Surveys tell us they  sometimes go from job to job in search of things such as “positive culture” and work they find interesting. They’re finding through many different jobs what Lambert found in one.

 

 

 

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