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Why People Stay in a Job Longer Than They Should

Changing permanent jobs on a frequent basis is a problem and eventually will prevent companies from seeing you as a viable hiring option. That said, staying at a job too long when an employee really knows they should leave is also a problem. Remaining in a job that is no longer a good fit or one that isn’t taking you towards your career goals can be driven by both practical and emotional reasons. Some of the practical reasons are things like a decent paycheck, benefits, and the anticipation of future work experience that will look good on your resume. While these things all matter, it’s worth asking if you could get these things or improve upon them at another company that would be a better opportunity and cultural fit. Some of the emotional reasons employees stay are fear of making a change, concerns about the unknowns in a new job opportunity, or a sense of loyalty you feel towards your current boss and colleagues. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these and the psychology behind why people stay at a role that is no longer serving their best long term interest.

Fear of the Unknown
The biggest thing to understand is that fear of change exists for everyone at some level, but don’t mistake that for thinking you’re making the wrong decision to leave. Trust yourself and look back the reasons you decided to look at changing and how your new job aligns with what you wanted to improve. I tell candidates to do the exercise of stepping back from both their current job and the job they have the offer on. Pretend you don’t have either job and ask yourself which one you would take. This pulls the emotion out of it, and the “winner” is always going to be the one they have the offer from. Recognize to that the person making their first job change typically experiences a much higher level of anxiety than someone who has been thru the process and knows there will still be some trepidation. Starting a new job can be scary, you don’t have a crystal ball for how things will play out and there is a learning curve when starting a new role. It can be daunting to think about changing from your comfortable, although potentially stagnant role, to something new and fresh that will force you to get outside of your comfort zone a bit. Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, famously said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Instead of letting fear hold you back, have the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Loyalty to your team
Your boss and coworkers have likely been an instrumental part in taking you to where you are today and the thought of leaving them behind can feel like a betrayal. Some of your coworkers may have been there for life milestones and you have a shared history together. Further, if your team is replicating a family dynamic, a sense of loyalty can keep you from leaving. Realize that moving on to a better job is something most of your coworkers and boss would also do if given the opportunity and just because you have moved on to a different company doesn’t mean you can’t keep those relationships that have been so meaningful to you. When you do decide to move on to a new career make sure to give a professional notice, typically two weeks, which will help with the transition and not leave your team in a bind.

Some people stay in roles years longer than they should and it’s often not until some force outside of their control forces them to leave that they do so. It’s important to ask yourself if your role is still serving you and your career goals, and if it’s not it may be time to consider moving on. These questions can include: are you are still learning and growing, if you find meaning in your work, if you look forward to going to work in the morning, if you like (or at least respect) your boss, and if you are making enough money. If you answer no to these questions than it is probably time to take a good long look at why it is you’re staying at your current role and if it’s worth considering switching jobs. If you need help find a new role, SNI Companies can help you advance your career and make a strategic move into a role that will better serve you.