In the job applications that Toni Minoli reviews as general manager of Sadie’s restaurant, she sometimes reads about work stints as short as a few months.
Not much time compared to her 33 years with the restaurant on Fourth Street Northwest.
“People my age were brought up with more loyalty and diligence and quality of work,” she says. “It’s just amazing the kids these days.”
Look at what the U.S. Department of Labor says: Workers between 20 and 24 years old in 2004 had a median tenure of 1.3 years with their employer. Get a little older – 25 to 34 – and their job duration rises to 2.9 years. By ages 35 to 44, the median tenure climbs to 4.9 years.
It keeps climbing as workers get older, but tops out at 9.6 years – drops in the bucket compared to Minoli and two other New Mexico women who collectively have 84 years of one-employer job experience.
When asked about their commitment in a country of company hoppers, these loyal employees talk about about good treatment, good pay and good fun.
Seniority has some perks, too.
Minoli, 49, never thought she’d be in the restaurant business for so long.
“I intended to go to school, graduate and go be an accountant,” she says while seated in a quiet dining room at Sadie’s. “I never intended on staying.”
But with employers who were more like family than bosses, the career that began as a 16-year-old busser proved to be a good fit.
“It would be like leaving my home if I left,” Minoli says. “They’ve treated me like their daughter.”
The variety of her roles at the restaurant helped, too.
After bussing, the Albuquerque native waited tables, was a bartender and dabbled in the kitchen. In 1981, she took on managing responsibilities.
As general manager today, her tasks include payroll, scheduling, hiring and occasional conversations with the phone company over a bill.
“I have been able to change,” she says. “It’s rewarding.”
For those who skip from employer to employer, Minoli has this message: You’re missing out.
“You don’t know if you’re going to like it in two months,” she says.
Stick around, she says, and you might discover parts of a business that fascinate you. There’s personal growth.
“It helps you learn how to focus . . . how to be responsible,” Minoli says.
And after investing years in Sadie’s, she has a flexible schedule that makes arranging time off easy.
Minoli said she takes inspiration from her mother, who worked for 18 years as an administrative assistant with the Red Cross. She encouraged hard work and loyalty to an employer, and told Minoli that switching jobs could make matters worse.
“The grass,” Minoli says, “isn’t always greener on the other side.”
For 46 years, Sherry Anderson’s father worked at Sandia National Laboratories.
“Back then, you found people working like that,” says the Albuquerque native, while seated in her office at Berger Briggs Real Estate and Insurance in Downtown. “It’s just not that way anymore.”
Well, not entirely.
After 27 years with Berger Briggs, Anderson can see working another 15 to 20.
“I’m comfortable here,” says the personal lines manager. “It’s a good place to work.”
The pay is right, Anderson says, and there’s not too much pressure. Still, during the first six months on the job in 1979, it was tough. Adjusting to the work stressed her to the point of tears. But her son and daughter depended on her and that kept her focused.
“You can’t be moving around,” she says. “You have to have that income to raise them. I just stayed here and it’s been real good to me, this job.”
There was plenty of opportunity to keep her loyal. Without the chance to advance, things may have been different, Anderson says.
“If you have an opportunity in a company to work up, then I’d say stick it out,” she says. “But if you don’t think you’re going to (advance), you can go somewhere else and move up.”
Now in her 50s, Anderson sees an impatience in today’s young people that she says can hurt their chances of advancing.
“They want to start at the top and that’s just not possible,” she says. “You have to start somewhere at the bottom and work your way up. If you switch around all the time . . . you’ll never get up there.”
After dealing with some of her customers at Page One bookstore for years, manager Paula Parker has another word for them: friends.
She says it’s a transformation made possible by having the time to develop relationships with them over her two dozen years with the company.
Without those years, “you miss making friends that last,” she says.
It’s a level of commitment she sees missing in younger workers of today.
Parker, 49, isn’t sure why. She guesses it could be that they were given too much, too easily, and now expect too much, too fast.
In her years at Page One, other careers flashed as possibilities.
In 1986, Parker sold half of her pen-and-ink drawings at a solo art show. “I was very proud of that,” she says, but didn’t pursue her art further, and draws little today.
In the meantime, she found joy in working with elderly customers.
“They bring something out in me,” she says. “Maybe I missed my calling, which is what some of the guys here tell me.”
But she’s a lover of books, and has a simple explanation for why she keeps coming back: “I just like what I do.”
FACTBOX: HOW LONG?
From 1983 to 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor looked at how long employees stayed at a job. Here’s a glance at the median years of tenure for workers 25 and older:
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics