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Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Employer Loyalty or Fear?
I was reading an article today about Michael Jackson and his financial woes. It seems that the animals in his menagerie at Never Land are being “repossessed” or at least relocated to new, adoptive owners who can afford to take care of them. The article also mentioned that the employees at Jackson’s ranch/kiddy trap have not been paid in nine weeks and that many are “looking for second jobs”. Well, hello? I think if I had not been paid in nine weeks, I wouldn’t be looking for a second job but rather for a NEW job. In fact, knowing the state of his financial affairs, I would have been out of there when the first paycheck didn’t arrive on time.

These employees are taking employer loyalty a bit far, don’t you think? Unfortunately, many people stay with employers long after they should have hit the road. People stay in bad employment situations for various reasons. Sometimes it is the typical “employer loyalty” situation where the employee feels obligated to the employer or feels the employer deserves his fealty. Often in this case, the employee has a long history with an employer and remembers the “good times” when things were pleasant. The employee stays with the employer because he/she hopes the good times will return or feels leaving the employer would be detrimental to the overall business.

Another common reason people delay leaving a job is out of fear of change. No one likes change. Sometimes a bad situation seems less scary than a potentially better situation that requires a change to attain. Job search itself can be scary and no one likes to do it unless they absolutely have to. That fear of change or upheaval, even if the result of the change would be good, can prevent people from leaving a bad situation.

Financial obligations can stand in the way of employees leaving a bad employment situation. “I’d leave, but I need the job” is a common sentiment. Such a situation is one that must be judged by the individual but there is usually a different job somewhere in the market. In my entire career, I’ve only run into a situation a couple of times where there was only one job in a local market and in both situations the local market was a very small town and the job was a very specialized one. Many people who think they are limited in their options simply haven’t looked at other potential options.

Regardless of the reason for sticking with a bad employer, it’s important to consider all aspects of a job and have courage to make a change when necessary. Stress generated by a bad employment situation can lead to serious health issues, marital and family problems, and poor work performance. The question should be asked “Is it worth it?” Often the answer is “No!” The next question is “What can I do about it?” Engaging a good career coach to help you through the transition that will be required is a good first step.

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