My late Uncle, who we called Hump and loved dearly, worked at Ushers brewery in my home town of Trowbridge for over 50 years.
He was some sort of clerk and never held great ambitions or sought to climb up the slippery pole. I’m not privy to his performance appraisals – if they even had such a thing back then – but can imagine that he was seen as a dependable, diligent and, above all, loyal individual.
I doubt he ever scoured the Sits Vacant in the Wiltshire Times to any great extent and he retired with a gold watch.
When I started my first job at Lloyds Bank, in the next street, it was with the expectation that I’d have a fulfilling and progressive career of my own. I imagined that I’d probably retire with a nice pension and a timepiece too. Worked out a little differently but then times have changed, haven’t they?
Although the idea of a job for life is an outmoded one, I am still a fan of loyalty. Where it feels right and is in balance with what is best for the individual.
We all have bumps in the road at work, but if something is worth working with, don’t head straight to the job ads. Teething troubles can be resolved. Issues can be overcome. Talk to your employer about your development, your ambitions and your worth to the company.
Ask your boss if you want flexible working, more money, better benefits, time off and so on. (By the way, please do this without holding another job offer up as a bargaining tool – it reinforces your loyalty and is just a more classy way to go about things.)
Dialogue is key, and a good employer will listen and may seek to repay your loyalty. Equally they may not but better to know where you stand.
There is, of course, a difference between loyalty and stupidity. Misplaced loyalty, if you will.
Don’t stay with the same employer just because you feel you should. Don’t stay there because you’re frightened of change or too entrenched in your comfort zone. Don’t endure being stifled, under-appreciated or unrecognised for the sake of longevity on your CV.
Many of us will start a role which doesn’t turn out to be as described. False starts are not uncommon and it’s just not healthy to stick with something out of blind hope that it will change. Let your CV take a hit and move on.
Nowadays, in the UK, people are staying with companies around five years on average.
I think that the modern way is better. This is enabling the workforce to gain more depth to their knowledge. They are wiser for this experience, with more exposure to different company cultures and modus operandi. They will have grown better networks, sampled more IT systems and witnessed different leadership styles. Every day is a school day and we are all enriched by going to different schools.
Candidates who have enjoyed good stints with several strong employers, seem the best-equipped to embrace new challenges.
Some who have stayed with the same employer for too long, might have become one dimensional and institutionalised.
Many who fall into this last category could be forced into a looking by redundancy. This is a salutary reminder that loyalty – or lack of it – is a two-way street. Face facts, everyone – many commercial organisations will show more loyalty to their balance sheet than to their workforce.
Case in point, Ushers brewery was sold for property development in 2000. I dread to think what Hump would have thought.
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