You need to stay at a job for 10 or more years? Bullshit.

A little more than a week ago there was an article in Forbes, about the “10 Reasons To Stay At A Job For 10 Or More Years.” In this article David Williams laid out a list of 10 reasons people should stay at a job for at least a decade. Another article that he read about job hopping being the new normal for the millennial generation prompted his list. David disagrees with the author that staying at a job for longer than 10 years might be viewed as a career liability. He then starts his argument with what he calls a terrible trend. He is referring to a Bureau of Labor Statistics finding that the median time, wage and salary workers had been with their current employers was just 4.6 years. This finding doesn’t exactly paint the whole picture. Findings by Achievers and Experience, Inc. found “the average length of time Millennials want to stay with a company is 4.7 years, which is actually more than double the time they are actually staying.

Should this number bother anyone?

It seems to bother David. The list he laid out for his argument of why people should stay at jobs more than 10 years is as follows. My thoughts to this list are in italics.

1. Seniority – The longer you stay at a company, the more likely you are to rise in seniority. This might be true in a strong economy, but the millennial generation has learned that you can’t wait around for too long, instead of receiving seniority you might get laid off. The only real way to get seniority is to get higher up into a business, and sometimes the fastest way to do that is to leave for other opportunities. 

2. Leadership Opportunities – With seniority comes the chance to lead others. Again how often does this happen in today’s economy? 

3. Stability – Jumping from job to job causes you to worry about where you’ll be in the next year, and that makes it difficult to make long-term plans. Again, we have learned that staying at a job for long periods of time DOES NOT equal stability. Millennials know that no matter how much a company claims to be loyal to them, when hard times come this proves to be false, and you could end up being laid off. Stability needs to be created, one can’t just hope that things will remain stable if they are long-term employees. 

4. Home ownership and Retirement Funds – Job hoppers pay a high price in home equity and retirement accounts. This I can’t speak to personally because I don’t and never have owned a home. What I do know is that I’m not alone in not owning a home. Reports show that there is a trend in fewer first time home buyers in the millennial generation, and in the near term the demand for rental housing is likely to climb. 

5. Increased Benefits – Many companies increase employees’ paid time off if they stay at a job for a certain number of years. Big Deal! The increases in paid time off are usually something like one extra week after 5 years of employment. Again, this isn’t much incentive to stay at a job. 

6. Self-Improvement – If you allow other people to get to know you over a long course of time, they’ll be able to point out the blind spots you may have otherwise never addressed. This is easily achievable in less than 10 years if your company places mentorship as a priority. 

7. Dependability – If you’re able to stay at one place for 10 years, people will respect and trust you for the dependability you show. While this is true, it still doesn’t mean that an employee can depend on their employer. How many companies lay off, or push long time employees into early retirement when times get hard? 

8. Flexibility – Most people who stay at a company for a decade or more progress through multiple increasingly challenging roles while they’re there. This is only true if there is room to grow at the company. It is more likely you will be stuck in the same role for 10 years if there isn’t.  

9. Perseverance – It shows a stronger character to persevere, to find and enact solutions to problems, repair damage, and take an active role in turning a situation around. This I agree with, you can’t run from a company every time you have a problem with your co-workers. However, you also can’t be a doormat. 

10. A Say in the Company’s Future – You can have a positive influence on your company’s direction over the years, and can do so from a position of experience and knowledge, if you’re willing to stick with the company through good times and bad. Again, the millennial generation has been shown time and time again that most companies are not willing to stick with them through the bad times. So why should they stick with the company through good times and bad? 

While I can’t speak to David’s company, it might be an awesome place to work. However, the problem with articles like what he wrote is that they always point the finger at the employee. What about the employer? If they see this trend in millennials job hopping, what are they doing to stop it? What are they doing to keep the employees where they are? Are they fostering a relationship where the employee feels valued? Are they treating them with respect, trust, and commitment?

Millennials don’t leave their jobs just because they want higher pay, or a higher title. Often the biggest reasons they leave their jobs is because they don’t feel like they are progressing forward. They are not being mentored and taught, or they simply are not given the tools to succeed. Employers need to give their employees a reason to stay beyond money. Money is nice, but it isn’t the only reason that people stay at jobs. If you want your employees to stay at the company for the long haul then look at how you are helping them to do that.


The Green Guerilla