NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Given the state of our economy and the constant plea for more jobs, this may seem like a silly headline. But what's silly is the idea that anyone would consider leaving potentially 50% of their lifetime's earnings on the table just for the sake of showing job loyalty.
Millennials are entering the workforce with the expectation that if they work hard, good results will come. They have dreams of making their mark and seizing that corner office by climb the corporate ladder.
But these days, companies are only as loyal to an employee as they have to be. Shareholders demand higher profits and corporate leaders have no choice but to deliver -- or else.
Getting to the top of the ladder in such an environment is much quicker by jumping ship to a new company. Loyalty is what your grandfather understood. Not today. This is what Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Intel (INTC) and Adobe (ADBE - Get Report) realized when they signed a pact to not poach each others talent. All four were named in an employee lawsuit, claiming they conspired to keep salaries down by not recruiting each others workers.
According to court documents, deceased Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once told Google co-founder Sergey Brin, "If you hire a single one of these people that means war." This was according to Brin's description of the conversation.
The case was settled in May for $324 million. Neither Apple or Google could be reached for comment.
Still, this is an example of the losing battle employees have against large corporations, especially in an age where unions are losing negotiating power for the workers they represent. However it also affirms the leverage talented workers sometimes forget they have. Companies are willing to "go to war" to preserve their talent.
There will be millions of college graduates entering the workforce this summer. And many millions more entering their second year on the job. But according to a recent Forbes article by Cameron Keng, employees who stay at their jobs longer than two years are paid 50% less than those that are newly hired.