Corporate Work Culture

24 Jan

It’s likely that the current generation’s 20- and 30-somethings will work multiple careers throughout their lifetimes. They might begin their career as a waitress, later becoming a teacher. Perhaps after a few years they’ll burn out from that (who can blame then) and move on to something new, or multiple something-news. Many won’t settle into their final career until their late thirties or even forties, and some might never.


In the early to mid 20th century, things were different. The generations beginning with European immigrants and ending with the baby boomer generation often found a career and stuck to it until retirement. My own father spent over thirty years working at a corporation doing a job he eventually despised (for the last 10 years or so). But he never quit or left in search of something new, because that just wasn’t how things were done.


Today’s high-rolling executives are mostly a mix of Baby Boomers and Generation X. Even here we can see the same trend. Those from the Baby Boomer generation, such as Raymond McDaniel of Moody’s and Lloyd Blankefein of Goldman Sachs may have worked their way up, but Elong Musk of PayPal/Tesla Motors and Spencer Rascoff of Expedia/Hotwire/Zillow have made the rounds instead.


In the early 20th century, the culture of work ethic was different. People were loyal to their companies and vice versa. But nowadays, that ethic has changed. More often, companies and individuals are first and foremost loyal to themselves instead. Landing a job at a corporation doesn’t mean someone is in for life—quite frankly it often only lasts 5 or 10 years before the company merges, the employee decides to go elsewhere, or ties are cut in some other way.


These days, rather than corporations being permanent employers, they are serving more as a landing pad for learning about job ethics and work skills—which are soon applied elsewhere. More often, too, companies are hiring independent contractors and freelancers who work their own hours and from home. Especially during times of economic hardship, people are working multiple jobs and picking up all manner of skills.


What will corporate work culture be like in the future? Certainly it’s different today than twenty years ago. Where will another twenty put us?


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