Job-hopping has become the new normal for young workers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent data, today's average employee spends just 4.6 years at a job.
But for jobseekers searching for professional homes, legacy companies offer a host of reasons to commit. Legacy brands are decades old, have weathered major industry and technological changes, and tend to have long-tenured leaderships that persist through technological changes and industry trends.
While 20-year careers might be unheard-of at many companies, they aren't so scarce at legacy employers. Legacy companies' principles keep employees coming back year after year. In fact, more than 100 of my co-workers have spent over a quarter of a century at their jobs, and many have remarked that they couldn't imagine working anywhere else.
Why the Long Haul at Legacy Companies?
Founded in 1914, California Casualty has been around for more than a century. Its longevity has many sources, but one is certainly our company code.
Developed in the company's earliest years, this document reminds the team — from the janitor to the CEO — of the company's values, traditions, and ethics. The code is, in a way, a risk management tool. It prevents us from losing sight of the principles behind the company's success.
I've noticed that other legacy companies also use a codified set of values to stay strong. For example, Harley-Davidson, which was started in 1903 in a small shed near Milwaukee, has a corporate governance policy that describes its core principles: to tell the truth, be fair, keep promises, respect the individual, and encourage intellectual curiosity.
These ideals led Harley-Davidson to build dependable bikes for the U.S. Army in World War I, and they're also why the motorcycle brand continues to be a thriving, popular employer.
What to Expect From a Legacy Employer
It's difficult for many young grads to see what makes life at a legacy company different. And while there's no single "legacy" experience, here's what's typical:
1. Ethics and Honesty
Millennial employees — particularly highly educated ones — are concerned about organizational ethics. If they suspect that a company lacks social responsibility, they won't go near it.
Xerox has been doing social responsibility right since its birth in 1906. For the 10th year running, in fact, it's been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the world's 10 most ethical companies. Its CEO, Ursula Burns, calls its core values "a set of beliefs beyond compromise" and "the backbone of who we are and all we do."
While some companies compromise their values to make a quick buck, legacy employers have grown patiently. They know secrets get out, and when they do, employees get out, too.
2. Opportunities for Growth
Many new grads expect rapid advancement in their careers, and while their timetables may seem unrealistic to company managers, legacy companies offer the opportunity to climb high.
My company's VP of sales, in fact, joined the company 22 years ago as a sales consultant. Over the past two decades, she's earned numerous promotions for her work ethic, leadership, and loyalty.
Candidates should level their expectations and be ready to compromise on timelines for advancement, but legacy employers are willing to invest in employees and give additional responsibilities when the time is right.
3. Respect and Flexibility
Legacy companies treat employees like family. By providing a balanced work life, fair pay, and reasonable hours, legacy businesses respect their team members and receive respect in return.
One way Millennial employees feel respected is through flexible work policies. A whopping 92 percent want to be able to work remotely, and our company recently piloted a remote work program. Our remote sales consultants are some of our strongest employees. We respect their changing lives, and they deliver results.
4. Fulfilling Work
Millennials want to work somewhere that's truly changing the world, whether that be through innovative technologies or social applications of those products.
No company exemplifies this better than Google, which nearly 20 percent of Millennials named as their ideal place to work. "People want to do more than just make a buck," Lazlo Bock, Google's SVP of people operations says. "People want to do something that means something." Known for world-changing products and its "Do the right thing" motto, the maturing tech giant's commitment to employee fulfillment has put it well on its way toward becoming a legacy brand.
For many jobseekers, legacy companies may be the best places to leave legacies of their own. With time-tested cultures, commitments to ethical business, and long histories of innovation, legacy companies offer the newest — and oldest — opportunities for graduates seeking vibrant, rewarding careers.