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Today’s job market is on fire, giving employees the upper hand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of April 30, 2021, there were 9.3 million job openings.
Moving through the third quarter of 2021, record numbers of job openings still exist, making it an ideal time for people to switch companies and engage with new prospects.
Even the most loyal employees might find recent opportunities enticing, but is now a good time to make a move?
Does a strong job market trump employee loyalty?
Why It’s In Your Favor to Be a Loyal Employee
Employee retention isn’t diminishing only because of the recent labor shortage. It’s a trend that’s been happening for some time, especially among younger generations.
Voluntary turnover happens for many reasons and costs companies more than $600 billion every year.
With so much money at stake, it pays for employers to keep turnover rates low. But what’s in it for the employees?
Being a loyal employee isn’t bad, and staying with a company for the long haul has several advantages. A top benefit being stability.
Frequently switching companies for new job opportunities is a risky decision for people in some career fields.
To avoid making the wrong move, you must research the company and make sure its financial footing is solid. The last thing you want to do is take a job with a new company that’s not stable or has a negative corporate culture.
Too many people have left jobs for greener pastures, only to have their new position eliminated within the first year.
Staying put with a company you’ve come to know and trust contributes to increased job security confidence.
Grow with the Company
People stay with companies longer when they feel like they’re part of the team. There’s a shared purpose and the promise of future rewards. This attitude is quite common with start-ups.
Employees on-boarded during the initial phases of launching the business enjoy the perks of growing with the company, such as recognition and feeling valued in their roles. They are key players focused on reaching company goals.
But you don’t have to be part of a start-up to experience these advantages.
People who began their career at a company, and are considering making a lateral move to a new company, often find they get lost in the shuffle. They become the new person who has to prove themselves all over again.
It might not be fun to start at the bottom somewhere new when you’ve already been to the top.
You’re More Attractive to Other Employers
Have your LinkedIn profile views increased?
Are you getting offers in your inbox to apply for positions?
The influx of requests might be because potential employers are attracted to your job retention history.
Companies can become desperate for applicants in a hot job market, yet that doesn’t mean they aren’t picky. They would much rather hire someone who doesn’t hop from job to job and serves as a role model for current employees.
How Being a Loyal Employee Can Backfire
Loyalty might be everything in friendships, romantic relationships, and coming-of-age movies, but it isn’t always the best choice in business.
Employees sometimes take their commitments to their current employers too far and get stuck in a career rut, affecting their productivity and growth.
They miss out on lucrative opportunities that could position them closer to their career goals. No one owes their employer lifelong loyalty, and here’s why.
Misplaced Loyalty Holds You Back
Are you working in a dysfunctional environment? A toxic work environment doesn’t do anyone any favors. Yet, people stay in these workplaces out of loyalty to their team or the company’s mission.
Some stay because they don’t recognize the toxicity. If you’re working for a company that displays any of the following, stop waving the loyalty flag:
- Prioritizes the bottom line over their employees’ safety/well-being
- Expects employees to work long hours without proper compensation
- Rewards gossip-like behavior instead of dispelling it
- Disregards employees’ contributions
- Refuses to take workplace complaints seriously
Staying with a Company Too Long Could Cost You Money
People stay with their employers for many reasons beyond compensation. There’s indeed more to job fulfillment than a fat paycheck, but everyone should be compensated fairly for their contributions.
When loyal employees immerse themselves within the company, they often lose perspective. They assume any other opportunity won’t be as lucrative or rewarding.
That tunnel-vision perspective keeps them from earning what they’re worth. And don’t fool yourself; companies aren’t going to tell you otherwise.
Sure, you might get your annual raise, but why shouldn’t you get more?
Long-time, die-hard loyal workers who let their eyes roam by perusing current job openings in their industry are often surprised to find how much more they could be making.
How to Know When It’s Time to Cut the Cord?
Whether the current job market has you thinking about switching companies, or you’ve been considering a change for a while, how do you know when it’s the right time to break up with your employer?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it a one-way relationship? Are you the only one putting effort into the employee-employer relationship?
- Is your employer placing unrealistic expectations on you in terms of workload? Are these expectations making it challenging to maintain work/life balance?
- Has the job become mundane and boring? Do you no longer feel excited and energized to go to work beyond what’s normal? Are your co-workers happy employees?
- Do your employer’s values no longer match yours?
- Do you feel like you’re only working for a paycheck?
The Bottom Line on Employee Loyalty
The average person’s job equates to a third of one’s life, making it essential to weigh the employee-employer relationship honestly.
At the end of the day, you have to consider how much you’re gaining by remaining a loyal employee and how much your loyalty could be costing you.
When the scale begins to tip in the direction of loss, it’s time to think long and hard about your choices.
At the same time, current long-term employees should be careful with temptations from a hot job market.
If you’re happy in your position, respected by superiors, and meeting your career goals without sacrificing work/life balance, be sure you’re clear on how (and when) you’d benefit more from exchanging your loyalty.
Vicki and Amy are authors of Estate Planning 101, From Avoiding Probate and Assessing Assets to Establishing Directives and Understanding Taxes, Your Essential Primer to Estate Planning, from Adams Media.