Friday 22 August 2014

What's the right amount of time to stay with a company?

Asking how long you should stay with an employer is like asking how long a piece of string is: it depends on how much (time) you need.

According to McCrindle research, the average Australian employee's tenure is just over three years, and those who belong to Gen Y remain in their roles for little more than two and a half years.

While the days of starting work and retiring with the same company may be coming to an end, that doesn't mean you should scratch the two-year itch. You need to consider a number of factors before jumping ship.

Why am I considering working for another company?

A lot of people find themselves stuck in a rut and subsequently feel as though working for another company is their only escape. Common reasons for leaving include:
  • I no longer find my work challenging or enjoyable.
  • I don't get paid as much as I should.
  • I don't get along with my colleagues/I don't like the company culture.
  • I can't attain the flexibility I need to fit my lifestyle.
  • I've decided to take my career in a different direction.
If you work for a small company, the allure of working for a big-name firm can be tempting, especially if accompanied by greater financial rewards. Be sure you're comfortable with the change in culture, clients and role. Working for a big firm looks prestigious on your resume, but there may be fewer chances to make an impact or advance quickly, which could mean staying in a junior position longer.
Some employees like to switch to smaller firms because they feel they can make a difference. However, they could be giving up benefits such as a higher salary or study and travel opportunities.
Have I done all I can at my current organisation?
In many cases, the symptoms above can be remedied by a change of role rather than leaving for another company. Also think about untapped opportunities at your current workplace. Perhaps you could join a leadership program, or extend your education? These decisions may affect your willingness to move on.
With tenure you may also be able to negotiate better because you exert greater influence, so pushing for a pay rise or beneficial working conditions could become easier as time goes on.
What's the opportunity cost if I stay?
While the prospect of changing roles has its appeal, you also need to consider what you may be giving up by sticking around. This could be anything from better pay, conditions and opportunities to gaining a diversity of experience.
Starting anew may also be the easiest way to jump into a higher salary bracket, leverage beneficial working conditions, secure a new career title and expand your network rather than doing this over time in the same workplace. This makes the question of 'how long?' a question of 'how patient are you?' and 'what will you do today to make it happen?'  

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