Happy Anniversary to Me

Our payroll person popped into my office today to congratulate me on ten years at Jubilee Association. My ten-year mark was on my radar screen in a vague sort of way; we get three months paid leave, a sabbatical as it were, after each decade of service so you can be sure that I knew I was eligible in April, 2010. But I hadn’t been keeping track to the day and so her announcement surprised me.

Truth be told, I felt a bit old. Not because I’m old enough to have worked for ten years–my career started long before–but because I know so few people who have stayed at their organizations for a decade or longer.  Who the heck does that in 2010?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, median tenure of US workers was 4.1 years .  BLS says that only 27 percent of workers age 16 and over had 10 or more years of tenure with their current employer as of January 2008.

I can tell myself I’ve joined an elite club, a group which has probably only gotten smaller since the BLS’s last report. But I also have to wonder: is there a point at which long  tenure becomes a liability? If down the line I decided to apply for other positions, will employers increasingly be wary of my years with my current employer? Will they say, “Thirteen years with the same organization; she’ll be set in her ways, resistant to change, always saying, ‘Well, at Jubilee, we always did _____…’ She’s a dinosaur. Next!!”?

Well, I am perfectly happy with my job and I’m not looking for other opportunities, but I’m still curious about what other workers and HR pros think. Is there a tipping point at which employees begin to lose out on possible opportunities by lengthening their tenure? Share your thoughts!

Photo by Kendiala

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