James “Rudy” Day started at Watkins Cabinet Co. in 1957, just days after graduating from Damascus High School.

From his first day he learned how to measure, build and install kitchen cabinets. From the age of 17 until he retired at the end of June after 62 years, he learned how to do everything.

While he had other offers, he never looked for a different job. Day stayed with Watkins because he enjoyed his work.

“Mr. and Mrs. Watkins were fine people and were always honest with me right from the beginning,” he said. “I had several offers over the years but decided to stay where I am as long as they continued to treat me right, and they did.”

But staying at a job for the long term, sometimes decades, isn’t so common for the younger generation. They’re chasing the experience of what they can do and they’re hoping that, at some point, something’s going to resonate strongly enough with them.

To do that, they’re more susceptible to move from job to job.

Morgan McAllister is the admissions leader at The Temple — A Paul Mitchel Partner School in downtown Frederick. The 24-year-old has been with The Temple for three years. Since she started working at 17, she’s had four jobs, including working at a restaurant and tanning salon.

“Being a bartender and working at a tanning salon, you only go so far with that,” she said. “I like to be in an industry where I can change and switch gears but still be in the same place.”

In her three years at The Temple, she’s worked in education, financial aid and admissions. She likes the opportunity to be able to “bounce around” to different positions but stay within the company.

“One of the reasons the younger generations leave is because they want to be able to do more than one thing,” she said. “They probably love who they work for, but they also want to be able to play different roles and do different things.”

Business Insider recently reported that 40 percent of baby boomers — the generation born between 1946 and 1964 — stayed with an employer for at least 20 years. Eighteen percent said they stayed at their job for more than 30 years.

The publication also reported in 2018 that 61 percent of those in Generation Z — those born between 1995 and 2010 — planned to leave their job in just two years. Just 12 percent said they’d stay more than five years.

The younger generation doesn’t look at that as failure. It’s the opportunity to experience different things and move in different directions. Baby Boomers, though, stayed loyal to their companies. Moving from job to job meant that you failed.

Generation Z looks to expand their skill set

Colby Nees, another Temple employee, has also had four jobs since she started working at age 16. The 23-year-old has been at the beauty school for almost two years and plans to own her own salon one day.

She worked the beauty school’s front desk for a year and begged to be moved to a new position.

“I was in my own little domain and was ready to spread my wings and do something else,” she said.

Although she was bored working the front desk, she wasn’t looking to leave The Temple. She was looking to grow with the company.

“I think the more opportunities you can give someone, the better,” she said. “If you stick them with one job for a long time, they’re going to continue to look for different jobs. The younger generation loves change. They get bored very quickly with just one thing.”

They’re also always looking to add to their skills.

“I feel like the longer the list, the better,” she said.

For Randy Green, he had multiple opportunities from his first day on the job.

Green started at Washington Gas. Co.’s Frederick location 45 years ago through his high school’s work-study program. At age 16, Green walked in on his first day as a junior draftsman but was asked if he knew how to read a meter.

“They gave me 15 minutes of training, gave me a stack of meter cards and out the door I went,” he said.

Less than a year into the job, he was answering customer phone calls and dispatching drivers. He eventually became a corrosion control technician.

“I never thought this was a drag,” he said. “Because I wore many hats, it didn’t get boring. Every day was a challenge.”

He also credited the people he worked with, explaining that he had experienced mentors teaching him the tricks of the trade.

“That’s the biggest thing in what’s lacking in a lot of companies,” he said.

The juxtaposition between the generations

Rick Weldon, president of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, believes that the older generation modeled their work habits from their parents and grandparents.

The didn’t put a high priority on a work/life balance, he said.

It’s more common for Generation Z workers to move through jobs because they are looking for something that will do more than pay the bills, Weldon explained.

“It’s certainly true that younger workers are more prone to move,” Weldon said. “But I think part of that is because they want to find that job that helps them achieve that work/life balance where people of my generation didn’t even think about something called work/life balance. You just worked.”

Charles Riser, who owns The Temple with his wife Sharon, jokingly referred to Generation Z as “the certificate generation” because they’re very focused on learning new skills.

“I call it the era of ‘Shark Tank,’ ” he said. “They’ve grown up watching people walk in, pitch their idea and get investors. This is the era of the entrepreneur.”

The Risers travel around the country speaking to different industries about how to better work with the next generation coming into the workforce.

“We’re really curious to see where Gen Z is when they’re in their 30s,” he said. “As a boss, the first thing you look at when someone has a résumé is ‘Oh, my God, they’ve had 10 jobs in 10 years,’ and you’re like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’”

Bosses have to start rethinking that mindset, though, because changing jobs frequently is the new normal for the younger workforce.

“It doesn’t make them bad employees,” Riser said. “They’re not getting fired. They’re simply choosing to figure out where they want to go.”

To stay at their job, younger employees want more communication and feedback from their superiors. They also want a leader instead of a boss.

“They want to be guided,” Riser said. “They’ll follow you, but they have to believe in you.”

Generation Z wants to work for an evolving company. If a boss can show its employees that it’s willing to adapt and create, than the employees will stay.

“Company owners for so many generations have said ‘it’s my way or the highway,’” he said. “Your company has to be willing to be a living thing. Is it going to grow? Is it going to evolve? Is it going to constantly look at ways to improve?

“If you do that than these guys will stay, because they want to be part of it,” he added. “They want to be part of that creation process.”

Follow CJ Fairfield on Twitter: @FairfieldCj.

(9) comments


Very interesting article. Keep in mind that sometimes people change jobs because they get laid off or the company goes out of business. This has happened to me 4 times in my career.


Just be careful my friend when you speak with future potential employers. If four of the companies you previously worked under let you go or went under, some may wonder if you were part of the problem. No offense here, but sometimes less information is more helpful. You gotta convince future employers you will be successful in being a part of any solutions to any current issues...that is why they should hire you.


@ happy, if your post is in reference to mine - in biotech/biopharma companies can come and go pretty quickly. I put myself through school and I'm very good at what I do (or did, retired now) - twenty years of my career was in the biomedical industry where jobs materialize and vanish at the whim of corporate executives who are sometimes thousands of miles away. When companies merge or one buys another out, stockholders love to hear about "rightsizing" but they usually aren't the ones being kicked to the curb for sake of a stock price. WARN laws have led to managed layoffs and targeted rehiring; R&D typically gets thrown under the bus first. In this arena there is neither sin nor shame in being laid off. I was laid off and rehired three times by one company, the revolving door of M&A. YMMV.


Not always so HappySeller. There are a lot of startups in the Tech sector, and they often go under because they run out of capital, which has nothing to do with employees output. The I270 Corridor is the number 5 largest biotechnology region in the United States.


Ms Fairfield’s article is narrowly researched and poorly written. Mister Weldon’s opinion is completely beside the point. Fairfield's running title implies an essential *difference* regarding goals for employment that associate with generation/age. No mention is made of causative forces that influence one’s goals, nor of socio-political changes over time that influence one’s procedural tactics. People look for paid work doing something they like and that holds their interest. When they find it, they stop looking. When the business fails or they get laid off, fired, or lose interest they start to look again. No matter their ages, her quoted sources overall have the *same* goal: employment in one place that allows them to do different things. What’s refreshing here is reading about successful people who went to work right out of high school. Fairfield quotes a Silent (Mister Day), a Boomer (Mister Green), a Millennial (Ms McAllister) and a Gen Z (Ms Need) who all found/are finding interesting, varied jobs that can’t be outsourced - and they aren’t saddled with student loans. “Certificate generation” -? crazy like a fox, Gen Z.


Weldon way off base here. Very slanted article. Folks like me work without bouncing around because it allows me a good life. Hard and consistent work has allowed me over the years to have a wonderful life, an awesome family and an excellent network of friends. I did not jump from job to job trying to figure myself out, chase pixie dust and rainbows, and try to find "balances." I worked hard at a two seperate jobs over my 26 year career to gain valuable experience, grow in a caeer, and gain respect. I am not a fan of jumping from bartending to customer service to running a school to whatever. I am VERY good at what I do because I worked hard, was loyal, and took responsibility for growing myself. People respect me because of my breadth and depth of knowledge, not because I experienced six different jobs in ten years. In my current job one of my responsibilities is interviewing potential hires. Some I interview, who have graduated college, cannot even write legible and understandable sentences or paragraphs. They think emojis are acceptable. They want their parents involved in the hiring process. They want Friday afternoons and every other Monday off. They want daycare and free lunches and reimbursement for their gas to/from work... ...and I just want hard workers who work! If you are productive, a MLB team will sign you to a 10 year contract and you may retire from the team you started with. Think Ripken. How many MLB players do you know who are considered successful that jumped between five different teams over an eight year span? You get my point. Get really good at something and stick with it...instead of chasing the next leprechaun.


Ironically, you interviewed someone from the “older” generation that has had many different jobs - Rick Weldon. Anyway, here’s the deal: the cost of living is very expensive; especially for anybody that didn’t own a house prior to 2003-2004. So if people have to quit their job to get a $10k raise, then that’s what they’re gonna do.


A bunch of out of touch old fogeys. And a education entrepreneur mocking young entrepreneurs. And everyone including the writer lacking even the basic of economic understanding. If 1 person stays in a job for 40 + years how many jobs need to be created to keep up with a rising population ? And what's with the Idea of the least capable aka young workers choosing to do something. Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Leadership wow I guess I'm not the biggest yokel round these parts after all.


You have cancer. You want a doctor with 15 years experience with treating cancer or a doctor who has jumped from general practice to podiatry to anestheologist to ear/nose throat in the past ten years while trying to figure out what she wants to do? She figured out she hates smelly feet, sticking people with needles and crying infants before she finally landed on being a cancer doctor, to her credit! You are getting your dream house built. You want the foreman to have 20+ years building houses exactly like you are hoping for, or do you want someone who has built sheds, townhomes, patios, and park shelters, and an occasional house over the past decade? You get my point. I could give hundreds of similar examples. Get good ar something and become an expert on it. And love it. But do not chase pixie dust in seven different positions over 10 years. Ver bad look.

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