Time to Change Jobs? Consider Five Factors
Almost everyone has experienced the difference between good jobs and bad ones. Good jobs provide interesting work in an organization that aligns with our values and skills. We learn, grow, and help the business prosper. Bad jobs are the opposite, mentally draining and lacking any sense of reward. These jobs also tend to have fewer opportunities to gain valuable experience or earn progressively higher salaries.
There are many options for employment, especially when the economy is strong, so be judicious on where you place your time and talents. If your current job is not a good fit or brings an unreasonable level of stress, it may be time for a change. Consider these five factors when assessing new jobs and potential employers.
1. Are You Really Adding Value?
Before making the leap to greener pastures take an honest look at the value you bring to your current employer. Are you objectively advancing their goals and profits? Are there gaps in your skills that need improving? A trusted colleague can be a valuable source for honest and constructive feedback. If you find your skills need some improvement, this is your starting point. You may find your current job is better once you fix these issues, improving your confidence and performance. If making these improvements does not change your job situation, you have at least prepared yourself to be more competitive with your next employer.
2. Are Staff Treated Reasonably?
Good employers adopt policies that treat staff in a reasonable manner. Bad employers tend to treat staff like interchangeable widgets, subjecting them to unrealistic rules and expectations. In this regard, employers tend to fall into one of three categories. The first are organizations that invest heavily in management practices and a culture to become top employers. This includes companies like Cisco, Salesforce, Hilton and American Express which regularly appear in Fortune's list of the best places to work. These companies also strive to recruit and retain talent.
The second category are organizations that were once good employers but then stumble, making serious mistakes, followed by efforts to recover. After years of a stellar reputation Wells Fargo became involved in a major episode of fraud. This included retaliating against staff who were whistleblowers of the fraud. At the time, Wells Fargo took the egregious step of trying to ban these whistleblowing employees from future work in the entire financial services sector. As a result, Wells Fargo paid hundreds of millions of dollars in civil and criminal fines, but has since taken steps to reorient its business and the way it treats staff.
The third category are organizations where bad employment practices have become entrenched in the organizational culture. This leads to a cycle of repeatedly mistreating staff. Once these practices become systemic it is very difficult to fix. Bureaucratic inertia sets in and the organization continues to lose its best talent.
When assessing current or future employers it is valuable to see where they fall on this spectrum. A culture of mistreating staff is a fatal flaw for any organization and should be a deal breaker for current or future employment.
3. Is Talent Rewarded?
There will always be some amount of office politics in allocating promotions or bonuses, which is to be expected. But look at the organization as a whole and assess whether it truly rewards talent. Is it generally a meritocracy, where top producers are equitably rewarded? Keep in mind that rewards are not strictly monetary; also consider other benefits such as additional time off or a more desirable remote work arrangement as possible compensation.
If you think your employer is not rewarding your efforts, start with a conversation with your supervisor. There may be facts you are missing or issues limiting the organization's options. You may also not be getting credit for your results or possibly overestimating your contributions. It is best to investigate the issue before making a final conclusion. If you find that the employer is simply not compensating fairly, then make a transition, but always try to leave on good terms.
4. Opportunities to Gain New Skills
The ability to succeed professionally requires gaining new skills and knowledge. This process keeps employees marketable and helps to command a higher salary. Access to high quality training or the ability to work on new projects is a way to gain these skills. However, this is a two way street, and it is incumbent on employees to be creative in working with employers to find or make these opportunities.
It is significantly easier to gain new skills if you have an employer that is open to finding solutions. It also helps to be reasonable in your expectations and to offer options that limit employer expenses or advance their overarching goals. For example, it makes more sense for an employer to grant you a few hours each week to improve your proficiency in a language if this aligns with their desire to expand into a new geographic market.
5. Is the Organization Entrepreneurial in its Thinking?
Just as an organization has a culture in how it treats staff, it also has a culture related to entrepreneurial thinking. Organizations that cannot think entrepreneurially tend to be risk averse. This deprives the organization of the ideas and growth needed to succeed.
If you are working for an employer where entrepreneurial thinking goes to die, it is unlikely to improve anytime soon. It is probably best to leave because it is hard for staid organizations to successfully make this change to this aspect of their culture. Over time they continue to lose to more nimble competitors.
Overall, your work should provide more than just financial remuneration, it should offer a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Staff are happiest in an organization where they can excel. Staying with a bad employer holds you back financially and can have a negative impact on your wellbeing. If you are in the wrong job, it might be a great time to promote yourself to customer.