Challenger: During Downsizing Manager Loyalty Does Not Pay

October 21, 2003 ( - In times of corporate downsizing, loyalty to one company apparently does not pay off.

Nearly two out of 10 (18%) of the 3,000 discharged managers and executives polled reported they had worked for just one company during their careers. This represents an 86% jump from the fourth quarter of 2002, when 9.7% of managers were discharged from their first and only employer , according to a survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Job loss among managers and executives, with a median age of 44, who worked for just one company during their careers nearly doubled over the last three quarters to its highest level since 2000. During that period, 18.2% of discharged managers had just one employer on their resume.

While loyalty may not guarantee the proverbial gold watch, Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger said it looks better than the alternative in an employment market where frequent job switching has fallen out of favor. At the same time that the number of one-company managers and executives being laid off has grown, so too has the number of managers and executives who have remained at their first firm.

As evidence of this contention, Challenger points to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on voluntary job leavers suggesting that job switching is on the decline. The BLS counted an average of 9 million unemployed workers who voluntarily quit their jobs in each of the last three months, from July through September. That is the lowest level of job changers since 1983. Even during the last recession and subsequent period of jobless recovery, there were an average of 11.6 million job changers.

This trend may not continue though, as the economy looks to be on the upswing. “There will certainly be an uptick in job changes, especially as underemployed workers – such as computer programmers working part time in a coffee shop – find higher paying positions in their primary field,” says Challenger.

However, the majority (65%) of those canvassed by Challenger seem to disagree, saying they were not likely to change jobs in the next six months even if conditions improve.