How Long Is Too Long?

How long is too long to stay at a company?

Once upon a time you could start somewhere and stay there your whole career, or hop maybe once or twice. That’s obviously not the case anymore.

Todd Defren is the owner of SHIFT Communications. He’s been at the same place since 1994. Recently, he writes, a millennial-era employee handed in her resignation with the words, “I’ve been here for almost three years, so, you know—that’s a REALLY long time.”

Really? Is there something wrong with staying longer than three years these days?

Defren thinks so: “If you can never fairly expect loyalty, you’ll stop aiming to achieve it…companies who “give up” on expecting even a modicum of employee loyalty will start to treat everyone as a short-term worker, like a seasonal farmhand or Christmastime retail clerk…This article is not intended to malign millennials. If crappy policies of the employer naturally led to poor loyalty by staff, we must acknowledge that this, in turn, has de-motivated employers to ever rethink their practices to engender the loyalty of staff. It’s a vicious cycle, now.”

Never did we consider that a lack of loyalty on an employee’s part would lead to a lack of loyalty on the employers’ part. It’s usually the other way around: “well, they woulda fired me at-will anyway, so I may as well take this new job.”

On the other hand, the move toward shorter stints and Millennial job-hunting seems inevitable whether companies promote these policies or not. The new worker is interested not just in making a company look good but in doing interesting work—if the work doesn’t stay interesting, s/he will move on.