I came across a great piece by workplace columnist Rex Hupke in the Chicago Tribune recently. He wrote of a Harvard Business Review article detailing how the amount of time people can expect to spend at a given job is becoming shorter and shorter.
That point is a basic premise of my book, Always Be Job Hunting, so it’s nice to see confirmation of it.
But that as it may, I went to the HBR site to find the article so I could pass on tidbits from it to you.
“For most of the 20th century, the compact between employers and employees in the developed world was all about stability. Jobs at big corporations were secure: As long as the company did OK financially and the employee did his or her job, that job wouldn’t go away. And in the white-collar world, careers progressed along an escalator of sorts, offering predictable advancement to employees who followed the rules. Corporations, for their part, enjoyed employee loyalty and low turnover.
“Then came globalization and the Information Age. Stability gave way to rapid, unpredictable change. Adaptability and entrepreneurship became key to achieving and sustaining success. These changes demolished the traditional employer-employee compact and its accompanying career escalator in the U.S. private sector; they are in varying degrees of disarray elsewhere,” write Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh.
Their piece looks at the job world more from the employer point of view than the employees’, advocating companies develop new compacts with their workers. But they also make the point that in today’s work world, “employees are encouraged to think of themselves as ‘free agents,’ looking to other companies for opportunities for growth and changing jobs whenever better ones beckon. The result is a winner-take-all economy that may strike top management as fair but generates widespread disillusionment among the rest of the workforce.”
What they advocate is what they term a tour of duty approach, with employees staying in a given job two to four years. That’s exactly what I’ve done in my career and it’s allowed me to stay fresh professionally and to keep working even when companies I had been with ran into times that involved layoffs or complete shutdowns. So I’m intrigued to read more of their writings.
John N. Frank