There is nothing wrong with being loyal to an organization

loyal worker

Unpopular opinion: There’s nothing wrong with being loyal to an organization. You don’t need to move for the sake of moving.  

A signal of loyalty or laziness? 

Is there such thing as ‘staying too long’ in a company? Recently, my company’s Dinner and Dance concluded and I overhead from my superior commenting that the number of long service awardees have dwindled as compared to previous years – suggesting that there was a considerable turnover during the days where we witnessed Covid-19 related restrictions here in Singapore.  

“Give yourself one year, if not two years max. After that you’ve gotta move on.” 

A friend of mine cautioned me that I shouldn’t be too comfortable and move on to another job after one or two years. 

“If you’re not getting promoted after a year or two – move on.” 

Some advice from self-proclaimed ‘career coaches’ on TikTok. 

As a young worker, I’ve also heard from seniors, friends from other industries and even career coaches on TikTok saying that one should not ‘overstay’ on a job and try to seek out new opportunities out there. But sometimes I think to myself; is the grass truly greener on the other side? What is so inherently wrong with staying in a position for five, ten or even fifteen years and beyond?  

Personally, I do want to stay a little longer at my job – Afterall I’ve gotten hang of things as compared to when I just started out, and I feel that there are still things to learn, and I do wish to have something notable achieved during my time with the company before I consider moving on to so called ‘greener’ pastures. 

There is a group of people who are just happy to stay in their job: what they want is to draw a salary that is enough to support their livelihood and their family, as well as their hobbies outside work. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing inherently wrong with such a mindset. Nothing wrong with ‘hustling’, nothing wrong with ‘getting by’. To each is their own. Let’s respect that. 

Do employers really value loyalty? 

Maybe it’s a question that only employers or the Human Resources Department can answer. Some employees can be apprehensive about leaving a role too early (say less than a year) – they are afraid of being labelled or judged as a ‘flight risk’. This has real implications for employers who do value loyalty – if they hire someone that has ‘flight risk’, the company may not be that willing to dedicate the resources for this employee’s growth. Vice versa, the employee might eventually leave early because he/she feels that the company is not investing in him/her. 

Loyalty and Laziness: Where to draw the line? 

Generally, someone who has stayed for a long time in his/her position should have the relevant experience and expertise required for the job. As I’ve cautioned, it may be also the case that the employee is just doing the bare minimum every day to ‘not get fired’ from the job. The loyal worker is not just loyal – he/she might have found purpose in the role, or what they want out of the role.  

Another group of recruiters would say that spending too much time in a position makes an employee ‘too comfortable’ and indicates that the employee is not willing to learn new cultures. A group of recruiters point particularly to the group of employees who stay fifteen years and beyond – they believe this might suggest that the employee’s professional development has stalled, or their network has stagnated or even shrunk 

Some other opinions thrown out by hiring managers on long-staying employees include: ‘one-dimensional’, ‘risk-averse’, ‘non-dynamic’, ‘ambition-lacking’.  

The Irony 

Ironically, when long-staying workers finally decide to move, then they face perceptions from their future employers like:  

“Maybe this person might take a longer time to adapt to my company’s culture since he/she was so entrenched in his/her previous role.” 

This is particularly true for older workers who are looking for new opportunities. Companies hold such unfounded reservations against the older worker – and eventually, pass them over during the selection process. 

In the end, it’s all about perspectives.

In the end, we realise that it’s all about perspectives. Some employers see loyalty as strength and some other see it as apathy, inadaptability, ya-da … ya-da… you get it. 

Drawing the line 

There is, though, a clear line to be drawn for some cases. The most obvious cases would be employees who have been in the same position for, say, fifteen years… holding the same position since he/she started. If an employee has been with the company for some time, chances are he/she will be promoted if all his/her KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) have been met. If the employee attempts and successfully value-adds to the company, chances are he/she will even rise faster along the hierarchy and take on managerial roles.  

Anyway, if you recognized that you’ve tried to put in effort in your work and you still get denied of your promotion year after year, it’s really time to move on. 

I suggest that you take every tip you hear with some reservation. For example, moving from job to job might not be great advice for occupations like accountants or lawyers – there are costs of moving for particular jobs: by moving, they could lose networks, client base(s), needing to adapt to new leadership styles, new challenges, new people.  

It’s all about the money, money, money… (We NEED the money) 

Conversely to “We don’t need the money, money, money,” sometimes it’s really about the money as we go through different life stages, like paying for mortgage, loans, supporting elderly parents, etc. 

The most popular notion about changing jobs is probably to push up your salary. If your company has plenty of opportunities for you to bump up your pay, or they reward their employees with multiple payouts/bonuses throughout the year, maybe it’s a safe job to stay in. The common expectation for a job is that they pay should progress along with time in the role. If it doesn’t, chances are you’re being ‘exploited’. Your pay should at least increase along with inflation rates, I feel. 

Tussle for talent – given the tight labour market these days in Singapore, if your company is sensible, they should be reviewing their incentives and salaries to attract new talent and retain existing talent. Some even say that the ever-changing incentives and remuneration schemes are the factors that cause employees to jump from job to job – particularly job-hopping amongst younger workers. 

At the end of the day, the decision is yours. 

It’s really about what you want. Lay out all the considerations and make the decision. Get input from friends and family, but the decision must come from yourself. If you feel that you’re being taken care of, you love your colleagues, you’re paid fairly and respected in your role, you don’t need to move for the sake of moving 

But at the same time, recruiters say that you should regularly review where you’re at – laying out all the ‘considerations’ and evaluating if you should stay or move. Do this perhaps once a year.  

Take ownership of your career and exercise due diligence

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A young Singaporean concerned about issues workers face. As humans, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and recharging, and another third for our personal life, and the last third at work (based on a 24-hr distribution). That's why we should pay attention to issues surrounding work.