I have a good hypothetical for you on job loyalty. And I haven’t done a good ole’ fashion reader poll in ages. So, it’s time. Let me first set this one up with some context. Most of us in Gens X, Y, and Z have parents who have or had one job for the large majority of their working career. My father, for example, worked in state government from the moment he graduated until retirement. My father-in-law had the same job since he was 18 until just this past year. This was more of the norm than the exception.
For younger generations, I would expect this to be the EXTREMELY rare exception.
In an article I wrote a few years ago on telling your employer about changing careers, I highlighted U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed:
- For ages 23-27, 75% of workers were with their employer for less than 2 years, and 88% less than 5 years.
- For ages 28-32, 68% of workers were with their employer for less than 2 years, and 84% less than 5 years.
We are clearly some combination of:
- ADD-ridden and easily bored
- or useless and easy to fire
At the same time, the unemployment rate was still hovering around 8% and we all noted how ruthlessly employers let go of their employees at the first hint of recession (my wife was one of them). There’s almost a sense that you are lucky these days if you have ANY job.
We live in an age of, for better or worse, at-will employment. Employer’s are free to discharge individuals “for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all,” and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.
But what if that weren’t the case? What if you were locked in to your employer? And your employer was locked in to you? What if you were offered to sign a job contract? Gasp!
Now, I don’t want to get in to a debate about whether this is good or bad for the labor market, I just want to know – would you do it? Would you commit? And why or why not?
So, here’s the job contract offer:
You and your employer would sign a contract for you to work for them for the next 10 years. If you break the contract, you are legally responsible to re-pay 50% of what you earned. If your employer breaks the contract, they must make an additional lump-sum payment of 50% over what you have already earned.
Consider it a question of voluntary loyalty.