I learned a tremendous amount from a few people who had been at my last job for 30+ years. Also there was a library of forgotten knowledge in old reports they pointed me to, that none of the co-workers who were there less than 10 years knew about. Tapping into these resources allowed me to excel and be relied upon after only two years on the job.

As employees change jobs more frequently, will the development of this extreme expertise diminish and cause inefficiencies due to constant relearning and retraining?

My experience is it is happening already and in the engineering field I'm in, it is driving up costs due to rework and mistakes. But is my experience right?

Job was specifically a water and sewer utility. The long term employees knew why things were built the way they were. They understood the ramifications of making changes and could clearly predict long term effects because they had been there long enough to see infrastructure fail or outperform expectations. Short term staff could not grasp or even begin to imagine these scenarios, due to lack of being in a place long enough.

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    You probably want to specify the profession you are talking about. B/c there are professions where 30+ years of working for the same employer in the same position would translate to "good luck finding a new job if you're fired (or want to quit/move)". In addition to that I suspect that if there is some library of forgotten knowledge only known by people who worked 10+ years then your company might have a huge issue with training new people and documenting such stuff. – AlexanderM Aug 10 '19 at 0:01
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    I think specifying the type of engineering is important here too. Software engineering changes more rapidly to where staying at the same company is less likely unless you head into management. – jcmack Aug 10 '19 at 0:19
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    As an aside, you should check out David Epstein's new book Range - it works through some data and anecdotes about why generalists outperform specialists in innovation and leadership. – Jay Aug 10 '19 at 13:49
  • How much of that 30 years was "transferable" vs "company specific" knowledge though? It depends on what you think an "expert" is -- whether it's someone who has spent their working life in one industry/career and knows everything there is to know about that, or is it just 1 year over and over again? To be honest I'd doubt that the 30+ years of experience really gave those people any more knowledge than just 5-10 (max) years. – seventyeightist Aug 10 '19 at 20:12
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    Also: what do you think an "expert" is? Definitions. – seventyeightist Aug 10 '19 at 20:15

This is a great question!

And infact, it's the first time I've read a 'young person' make this statement. Generally this is a complaint I hear, and I guess probably most people have heard from their 'local grumpy old man'**.

Youths are lazy!, Youths have no respect for their employees anymore, no loyality, blah blah blah.

This is called job-hopping, or Millennial side hustle.

Looking at some quotes and evidence from Edsurge, John Halitwanger and Forbes

We get some suggestions that we've all heard. To quote out of context

For a 20-something in the workforce, job-hopping is a norm — one LinkedIn survey indicates millennials do more job-hopping than any other generation

"With millennials, the idea is that we are lazy and that we don't work hard and stuff is given to us — "

Buuuut, if we look at some statistics from the USA

  1. Individuals born from 1957 to 1964 held an average of 11.9 jobs from ages 18 to 50. These baby boomers held an average of 5.5 jobs while ages 18 to 24. The average fell to 4.5 jobs from ages 25 to 34, to 2.9 jobs from ages 35 to 44, and to 1.7 jobs from ages 45 to 50. Jobs that span more than one age group were counted once in each age group, so the overall average number of jobs held from age 18 to age 50 is less than the sum of the number of jobs across the individual age groups. (See table 1.)

  2. Although job duration tended to be longer the older a worker was when starting the job, these baby boomers continued to have large numbers of short-duration jobs. Among jobs started by 35 to 44 year olds, 36 percent ended in less than a year, and 75 percent ended in fewer than 5 years. (See table 2.)

  3. On average, individuals were employed 78 percent of the weeks from age 18 to age 50. Generally, men spent a larger percent of weeks employed than did women (84 percent versus 71 percent). Women spent much more time out of the labor force (25 percent of weeks) than did men (11 percent of weeks). (See table 3.)

  4. The average annual percent growth in inflation-adjusted hourly earnings was highest during a worker's late teens and early twenties. Earnings growth rates were generally higher for college graduates than for workers with less education. (See table 5.)

It appears they changed their jobs just as much as the millennials do...they just conveniently forgot...or it was their inner grumpy old man.

To be honest the work enviroment has changed a lot in the last decades, the rise of gig jobs and companies like Airbnb, Uber (gig economy) have brought on the ability for large corporations to do a lot of shaddy things. If any readers haven't experienced some or all of these things I will be absolutely surprised.

To name some:

  1. Hire someone as a 'contractor' to avoid paying their benefits and medical
  2. Completely drop retirement plans
  3. Underpay their employees through weird employee definitions to avoid standard rates
  4. Produce short term useless contracts incase you might get pregnant
  5. Hire you 38 hours as 'part-time' to avoid paying benefits
  6. Non competition contracts to prevent someone from moving on in the same industry
  7. Any other suggestions?

( I will agree some of these things are not new by any means )

This website is full of thousands of questions of just questionable issues companies do to their employees.

What I want to point out by this, is that there is no more loyalty from companies.

So why should any one person bother to stay for a company that literally looks at their bottom line first before the people they depend on to get it for them?

Anyways, the more interesting part of your question is that you point something out that directly affected you. Namely the transfer for knowledge. You literally got better because people shared infos with you. Which is great! But this is more of a company culture, where the few older workers there wanted and did share infos with you.

But I've worked countless jobs where the upper ranks purposely hid knowledge for job security.

Who's account is correct? Yours or mine?

That's not a question to answer really, because they're both correct and both wrong.

Yes, to a tiny extent you're correct, there will be a loss of knowledge that people are job hopping (except people have always been job hopping. Your coworkers have valuable knowledge and experiences to use that should be shared without the fear the new person will end up replacing them. But they're also stuck in old ways to do things. (Which might be fine for industries that rarely change, but it's not universal at all. )

However there is a possible gain in breadth of knowledge. For each hopper comes new experiences, new knowledge, and new ways to look at things.

I view employers as people who want and need me to make them money. I have control over them (and I have a high demand profession and zero debt, so this can't be afforded to everyone) and I act that way towards these companies.

If they treat me well, I work hard and try to do my best for them. I enjoy working and I will gladly 'forget' to go home if a project is fun for me without asking for extra pay. But the second a company 'forgets' to hold one of their promises, or jerks me around, I start looking for a company that respects me.

Unfortunately most people have bills, children and can't save RSVPs or whatever is suggested in todays market to plan for retirement. They live pay cheque to pay cheque and can't afford to be played with by companies who don't care.

A solution to the 'problem' is really, to treat employees with respect, pay them well, and bring back benefits and retirement plans.

** Probably their father.

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