I have been having the discussion for a while about how long one should stay at their job. Sometimes with colleagues, sometimes with employees, and sometimes with myself in my head. Go running with me and you’ll get an idea of the crazy stuff I think about. This conversation has changed through the years. We all know the story. Boomers worked at one place for ever. Gen Xer’s wanted to stick it to “The Man” and they also chased paper during the “dotcom boom/bust.” Millennials will bail in a second if you don’t shower them with love, praise, and emojis. So how long should you stay at your job? You stay as long as you are satisfied and growing.
Times have changed. There was a time when you could graduate from a post-secondary education program, land a job, work to retirement, and watch the days go by from a beautiful beach or lake town. Then came economic downturns and the race to create shareholder value. Organizations began downsizing, rightsizing, and making decisions for the bottom line and employees were not given a choice to how long they could stay. Employees began to flip the script as the “new economy” evolved and started to follow the money, or the illusion money, in the form of stock options, Hawaiian shirts, and flip-flops.
This mentality still exists, to a point, and it should. Employees need to be selfish in their career and career development. You should always know your worth, keep your interview skills sharp, and be open to opportunities that will continue to keep you satisfied and marketable. And, you don’t need to leave your current employer to find this satisfaction.
From day one, you should work to establish a trust and rapport with your manager and lay out the vision of your career and aspirations. Both should be on the same page of the expectations the organization has of you and what you have of the organization. This is a two-way street. Have these discussions early and often. Work with your manager to set realistic time frames, too. Your company is making a significant investment in you and expects the same personal and professional investment from you.
If you ever find a time were you are feeling stagnate or you may have hit a plateau in your current role, first do a self-assessment of where you are. Are you working towards what you envisioned? Are you giving everything you can to your current role?
Then, have a conversation with your manager about your options. Are there other things you can take on to get to where you want to be? What are your next steps?
You can’t expect to be at an organization for a lifetime. You won’t always get that choice. But you can find a lot of satisfaction and growth within your current organization and it will take a little time, transparency, and a lot of trust. When the time comes for you to move on, and you feel you have done all you can, you should be able to look back on your job and know that you maximized your potential. Organizations can be proud that they helped you along in your journey and helped you land your next role.
If you can have all of these align, you will know how long you should stay. Those are good things to strive for.