What’s the Longest You’ve Worked for the Same Employer?

Congrats, Dad!
Congrats, Dad!

I’ve had exactly three full-time jobs in my life, not counting summer jobs. Each one has been with a different employer:

  1. Academic book-publisher (4 years)
  2. University non-profit (6 years)
  3. Board game publisher (3 years)

Looking ahead, I anticipate myself being quite happy with my current company for years to come. Looking back, though, 6 years seems like a long time to stay with the same organization.

Today my father announced his retirement after working for the same organization for 37 years. Yes, years! That’s a long time.

Even though my dad took a very different, more consistent path than I did, I think it’s pretty incredible that he stuck with one organization for most of his working life (and that the organization stuck with him). In fact, I’m really proud of him. It’s rare to see that level of commitment.

What’s the longest you’ve worked for the same employer? Are you the type of person who would prefer to work at the same place (at different positions) for most of your life, or do you prefer to switch things up every couple of years?

12 thoughts on “What’s the Longest You’ve Worked for the Same Employer?”

  1. Congrats Mr Stegmaier! I really admire that level of commitment.
    My work being contract/freelance and IT project based I tend to change contracts every 6-12 months.
    Saying that – I have cycled between the same companies multiple times.
    Is that the modern day version of commitment? To deliver a project for a company then return after a year or two to deliver another?

  2. I was a “blue badge” full-time employee at Microsoft for 6.5 years and contracted another 2.5 years. I worked for Bell Northern Research/Northern Telecom for 5 years (and got my retirement funds out of Nortel stock four days before it crashed! What luck!) I have been with my current company for over 4.5 years and since I finally got a big promotion two months ago, I anticipate that I will stay here for a while. So I’ve accounted for 18.5 years of my 26 years in the technical communication field. I spent a year of the rest on two maternity leaves, probably another year (total) looking for work after layoffs, and the remaining 5.5 years on various contract jobs, most of which I really enjoyed.

    My father was with IBM a total of 36 years; 29 years as an employee, and when the company begged/forced him to retire early, his Senior VP begged him to come back as a contractor, and he did for a total of 7 years, making three times his previous salary. Some things do NOT make sense. 🙂

    Men of our fathers’ generation DID hold one job for a long time, or at least, it was much more common. People got rewarded for staying with one company for a long time through a retirement pension, which is no longer the case. If a person starting their career now in the tech world stayed with one company more than five to ten years, I honestly might find myself wondering what was “wrong” with them… it’s very common to move around, and it’s a lot of fun to take on new challenges with an entrepreneurial spirit.

    I hope you’ll enjoy a long, happy, productive career as Stonemaier Games, but I also hope you’ll stop and do something else if ever your heart is not in it.

  3. This summer will be 16 years with the same organization. I’ve had 4 different positions in that time. In the last 6 months I’ve felt that it’s time to move on so we’ll see what happens this year. 🙂

  4. Hi Jamey,
    back in Germany I worked for only 1 company 13 years in a row in the same position. And I have to add that this is “not long” for a German guy …..
    Therefore YES – I would prefer to stay if possible.

  5. Matthew: That’s an interesting twist on commitment, or at least a gauge of how those companies value you since they ask you to return for new jobs.

    Julia: Thanks for sharing those stories. That’s an interesting point about pensions, which seem to have been almost completely replaced by 401k (which don’t require you to stay with the same company).

    David: 50 years!?! Wow. Congrats to your dad.

    Laura: Congrats on staying with your organization for so long. If you decide to move on, I hope you find something you enjoy!

    Nils: So in Germany it’s common to work for the same place for most of your life?

  6. I spent a bit of time working in Germany and the long-time employees situation stems from their work contracts – and how incentivised the employees are to stay with the one company.
    On another note I did some work with a major airline here in NZ where I worked with people who were a few years from retirement.
    They would come in to work and spend the first hour reading the newspaper! Their original contracts were so strong that to make them redundant/retire early would have cost the company a lot of money. They would not leave early due to the Airline perks they get once retired.

    One distinguishing difference Jamey between your current situation and what others have posted is that you are the captain of your ship now. It’s your business so I expect this should be your longest stint working for “the man” (because you are “the man”… 😉

  7. Jamey, thanks for the recognition. I am in my 37th year with the same employer, although I’ve had half a dozen jobs here over the years and would argue that the employer, while nominally the same, is a very different organization than the one I joined 37 years ago. The chance to be a part of the changes has much to do with my long tenure.

    I see lots of good comments here on the topic, but one in particular caught my interest. “They would come in to work and spend the first hour reading the newspaper!” We’ve all probably seen things like this before. Question is, who is responsible for such behavior–the employee, the employer, or both?

    Studies show that high levels of employee engagement correlate with high levels of organization success. Though there are various ways to measure engagement, much of what we understand about employee engagement can be captured in one simple question: Would you recommend your employer as a great organization for your friends to join? If, on a scale of one to five, with five being “I love this place and you have to come work here!!” you can’t honestly answer at least a four, then ask yourself what you can do to make it better. If you can’t find a meaningful answer to that question, then please think about a change, even if you do have a great pension.
    (By the way, if you are a leader you would be smart to ask your employees questions like this and pay close attention to the answers.)

    Thirty-Seven years can go by remarkably fast. I hope you all spend most of your work years going to jobs that make you excited about getting up and going to work in the morning, and equally positive about the inevitable question from loved ones at the end of the day about “How was work today?” Building that kind of work culture has been a passion for me, and, after 37 years, seems like the most important thing I ever tried to do.


  8. Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Dad! I very much appreciate the sentiment of personal accountability for making your job the best it can be: “ask yourself what you can do to make it better”


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