The Decline of the “Company Man”

To be fair, would you want to work with Dilbert?

A few months back a Reddit Thread had this headline: Workplace Loyalty is Declining: 69% of Employees Say Looking for New Opportunities is Part of their ‘Regular Routine’ which in turns links to this which links you to a Forbes article about job hopping which takes it’s data from a FastCompany article on “the four-year career” and a “survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers” called Multiple Generations at Work.

Needless to say…it’s sometime difficult to track down the precise sources for data that people keep repeating is true.

Anyways, after all of that the”Multiple Generations” survey doesn’t actually tells us how they got their findings or what methods they specifically used which is disappointing. But at the risk of going not far enough down the rabbit hole I’ll just take some of this at face-value for now. If you want to dig deeper than I did and question these statistics, I encourage you to do so.

One of the most useful things I found during my rabbit hole-esque adventure was via the second link I mentioned. It, in turn contains a link to a blog post on the declining employee causality and wisely questions assumptions from the get go in one part of the blog:

The Loyalty Research Center, an Indianapolis-based consultant that focuses on customer and employee loyalty issues, defines loyalty in part as “employees being committed to the success of the organization and believing that working for this organization is their best option….. [Loyal employees] do not actively search for alternative employment and are not responsive to offers.” Cappelli says that “employee loyalty” is a “practitioner term. The closest analogy in research is with the concept of commitment, [the idea] that employees are looking after the interests of their employer.”

I like the definition quite a bit but the blog post later on admits problems:

Cobb also acknowledges the difficulty in coming up with a definitive loyalty measure. “Often the survey questions related to this are something like: ‘Do you intend to look for another job in 12 months?’ I could be looking for a job for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with displeasure with the company,” he says. “I could be considering going to graduate school or perhaps I want to live closer to my elderly parents. So these kinds of measurements are fuzzy. They are not actually measuring loyalty. They are measuring what you hope is related to loyalty.”

From the start then it seems hard to measure what “workplace loyalty” even looks like. Because, for instance, you could have a worker totally invested in their job, the company and the culture that it has but maybe you still have to move in the next ten months or so. Would that make the worker disloyal? It’s hard to see loyalty as this thing that only depends on how long you stayed.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it can’t be a useful general indicator. If you looked at my resume (please don’t) you’ll notice that I’ve never held a job down for more than half of a year. And often in those cases it was because I had to move from where I was. But I was also not very loyal to the given company in most cases and would’ve left if I had somehow found a better gig. So in that situation it seems pretty easy to say I didn’t have much loyalty. Hell, I’d tell you I didn’t have much loyalty. So that’s me counted anyhow.

What about the rest of people? What does “job hopping” even look like?

The article I mentioned before about four-year careers has a few examples:

Adam Hasler, 28


Stacy Brown-Philpot, 36

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