unfortunately, I hear this comment… from both candidates and clients quite often. Candidates use the statement to explain why they left certain companies and moved to another one, even after a short period of time. Employers use it to condemn candidates for changing jobs too many times. Ironically enough, they’re both right.
In 1973, when I got into this profession, the average company in the United States was 59 years old. In 2014 average age of a company was 12 years old. More companies come and go faster than they ever in the history of our economy. More companies are shut down and more people lose their jobs with either short notice or no notice at all than has ever happened. In the past 20 years the idea of “employment for life” with a company has gone the way of the $100,000 fax machine.
Back in those days, companies hired people implying that even through difficult times, the company would do their best to keep employees. They even offered employees opportunities to take pay cuts during tough times…even the leaders…with the promise that when the economy and business came back around, the levels of pay would be restored. There was a “we’re all in this together” attitude. Management shared with employees the ‘state’ of the company. Even when companies laid people off, they often promised to hire them back when times got better…and did. There seemed to be empathy and understanding for everyone. Even folks who were laid off, understood. (if you’re old enough to remember, IBM hired people “for life.”)
It seems to me, and i have done no research on this, that after the last two recessions things have changed. Companies come and go faster, as mentioned above, and there is more of a callousness toward their employees. The avreage company life span is just below two business cycles. with the vast majority of companies in the United States (98%) having less than 100 people, profit margins got slimmer, business cycles got narrower, things like the dot-com bust, 9/11 and the financial collapse seemed to impact all businesses faster than ever. Regulations and taxes have further burdened even small businesses. Not only do business managers need to be persevering forward but they also are looking over their shoulder wondering “what’s going to happen next.” (Even IBM had to lay people off.) The average 40-year-old in the United States has changed jobs 10 times, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and they also tell us average professional in the United States Is going to change careers 5 to 7 times in their work life.
It appears to me that the faster technology grows, the more volatility there is with both employers and employees. In generations past, people went to work in the mines, on the farms and in the railroads and the factories for life. As technology advanced the necessity for these people diminished, replaced by fewer, more cognitive workers. Diodes and resistor gave way to the manufacturing of the chip. Technology got faster and job tenure got shorter. Look at what big data is doing to our businesses now. It’s made everybody even more nervous.
this hypersensitivity and skittishness on the part of business owners and managers transfers to the people that work at their company. Since business owners and managers don’t feel secure, employees don’t feel secure. Even the managers of these companies, close to the owners are constantly wondering what’s going to happen. It’s not that people don’t want to trust each other, it’s that everyone is afraid to trust each other. So, employers are not trusted by their employees to be looking out for them and employers don’t trust their employees that they are looking out for them. Everyone feels like that the other guy is only looking out for himself.
Understanding this environment has its unintended consequences. No longer can management go to the employees and say, “look where having a really difficult time. We’re going to have to cut back on salaries for a while and of course expenses. We would like everybody to understand and pitch in any way they can. But we’ll get through this and we will all be better and stronger for it. Obviously, we will make this up to the folks that help us when we come out of this situation.” Understanding the business environment today, every member of that company would start looking for a job the very next day. This business environment creates the feeling on the part of employees that they are “expendable” and they can be let go and any time, so they don’t mind leaving where they are at the drop of a hat, before (they perceive) they will get let go at the drop of a hat.
So, companies don’t feel any loyalty on the part of their employees, because the employees don’t feel any loyalty on the part of their employer. It’s a vicious cycle. Companies, then, don’t hesitate to let people go with no notice any employees don’t hesitate to leave with practically no notice. Employees will often leave their employment, even after a short time for a job that offers even a little more money because, their attitude is, “well, I never know when I’m going to get laid off so I need to make the most money that I can as fast as I can and get while the getting is good.”
There’s no telling which came first, the chicken or the egg. It’s one thing certain, there just simply isn’t any loyalty. Some people might say, “well it’s just better that way!… everybody knows where the other guy stands.!”
We can do it this way. We can all operate under distrust. It’s really not a good way to do it, but we can. There just isn’t much loyalty.