Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about Bill Brown, 68, who is retiring after working for 50 years at Unisys. His longevity at the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania corporation is a testament to his ability to adapt to changing management and technology, and beating out dozens of layoffs. (Full disclosure: About half of my relatives, including my parents, worked at Unisys–then called Univac–about 35 years ago.)
Of course, as Unisys downsized by nearly 90,000 workers over the past 20 years, Brown admits in the article that “the last 15 years, you had to work at protecting yourself,” which, by itself, doesn’t sound fun. But he goes on: “The major part of it is just having a good attitude and recognizing that change is the only thing that we can really count on. Be there with the change. Don’t resent it. Go forward with it. So I always had a contribution to make.”
The article also goes on to note that, even in the 80s, less than a quarter of all men between 60 and 64 had been with the same company for at least 25 years. Nowadays, the average retiree has been with their company for about 10 years.
After a certain point, Brown’s desire to stay at Unisys seemed as much about obstinacy as legacy. If you were offered a $100,000 severance package four months shy of your 50th anniversary at the company, would you take it, or gut it out? How long have you been at your current job? What was the longest you’ve ever been at one company?