By: Dalia Naamani-Goldman, Detroit News
Monday, September 12, 2005
From the September 12, 2005 article:
The day Leslie Richardson walked into Valassis Communications 18 years ago and began her job as a secretary, she knew she would stay until she retired.
Within five years, she was a team leader at the Livonia-based marketing services company, and today she works with clients to create promotional materials.
"From the beginning, I felt like I made an impact," said Richardson, 44. "It's been a wild ride and it's been a lot of fun. The opportunity to make my way has been important."
In an age of rampant job hopping, Richardson is part of a rare breed of workers who stay with a company or organization for much or all of their careers -- often finding the rewards of loyalty, stability and friendships make up for the opportunities they pass up.
College graduates today are told to expect to change jobs seven, eight or even 10 times in their lifetime. Only three in 10 workers 25 and older had worked 10 years or longer with their employer in January 2004, down from 32.2 percent in 1991, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But is the grass really greener? James Haislip doesn't much care to find out. He has worked for Ford Motor Co. for 31 years. The 82-year-old hasn't taken a sick day since 1955, and he frequently skips vacation. Instead, he shows up each morning at 6 a.m. to work an eight-hour shift at a manufacturing test plant in Dearborn.
Haislip still isn't bored with his work, which he attributes to the constantly changing nature of his assignments. Most of his time is spent working on prototypes for new model vehicle lines.
"I like my job," said Haislip, who worked at now-defunct Kay Industries, which made automotive and defense parts, in Detroit before moving to Ford. "You got to like the job you do."
Haislip works with John Bartys, also in his 80s and a Ford worker for 34 years.
"It's like another home to me," he said.
Not everyone has the option to stay at one place. Technology is changing at breakneck speed. Companies go out of business. Trends change.
"I don't think it's that people are dissatisfied with their work," said Richard Price, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. "There's a lot of evidence that job security is not what it once was. Job tenure is just a signal, an artifact, a sign that jobs are more insecure and people are changing jobs more often."
Employers rely more on part-time and contract workers because it's cheaper. Layoffs are commonplace when companies hit hard times. Michigan has been among the states hardest hit by these trends as Detroit automakers struggle to compete with foreign rivals.
As the terms of the work contract have changed, so has workers' sense of fidelity. While older generations once felt they owed their company a lifetime of loyalty, many younger workers consider themselves free agents....
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