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“I’ve Been at My Job a Real Long Time: Six Months”

The other day I was in a meeting and everyone went around the table introducing themselves and giving some background information. One person (who shall remain nameless) announced that he had been with his company for eight years. He said it a bit apologetically, and a few people made some comments about his lack of mobility that were both half-joking and dead-serious.

The other day I was in a meeting and everyone went around the table introducing themselves and giving some background information. One person (who shall remain nameless) announced that he had been with his company for eight years. He said it a bit apologetically, and a few people made some comments about his lack of mobility that were both half-joking and dead-serious.

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Now we all know that the job-for-life model is dead and buried. No talented, ambitious, self-respecting woman or man is going to keep working for the same company for eight years — unless there are some crazily extenuating circumstances. I fully recognize that the sedentary, rung-climbing approach to corporate life is deadening, can be a cop-out, and sucks the dynamism out of the economy. “Fast Company,” with its “Brand Is You” mantra, has helped trigger that reformation, and that has generally been a good thing.

Even so, when this poor guy started to visibly shrink in his seat after announcing his tenure, it made me wonder if the proverbial pendulum had proverbially swung too far. There is a lot of value that resides in perspective and historical memory. Companies need people who are actually capable of institutional loyalty, and are able to strike a nuanced perspective in the delicate calculus of what’s-good-for-the-company and what’s-good-for-me.

I doubt if we will ever return to the era where staying in your job is a reason for pride. But it would be much healthier for all, if it wasn’t seen as a reason for disdain.

Even so, when this poor guy started to visibly shrink in his seat after announcing his tenure, it made me wonder if the proverbial pendulum had proverbially swung too far. There is a lot of value that resides in perspective and historical memory. Companies need people who are actually capable of institutional loyalty, and are able to strike a nuanced perspective in the delicate calculus of what’s-good-for-the-company and what’s-good-for-me.

I doubt if we will ever return to the era where staying in your job is a reason for pride. But it would be much healthier for all, if it wasn’t seen as a reason for disdain.

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About the author

Adam is a brand strategist--he runs Hanft Projects, a NYC-based firm--and is a frequently-published marketing authority and cultural critic. He sits on the Board of Scotts Miracle-Gro, and has consulted for companies that include Microsoft, McKinsey, Fidelity and Match.com, as well as many early and mid-stage digital companies

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