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Stop the marathon, do the sprint

Studies have shown that workers who stay with a company for longer than two years get paid up to 50 per cent less than new hires.



by

Sushmita Bose

Published: Fri 18 Feb 2022, 10:37 PM

By the time I was “conscious” about “serious” life matters like career choices, it was the late 1980s. Almost everyone I knew back then — in middle-class India, men were still the ‘breadwinners’, women (generally) worked to keep themselves 
engaged — were in jobs that lasted for keeps. For the guys, a good job meant one they could retire from. Security — that magic panacea to soothe workstress-related worry lines — was the be-all and end-all. Government jobs, that drew out your pension fund even as they handed out an appointment letter, were a prized catch.

Get that damn tenure, and then lie back and enjoy life, smell the roses, whatever. I’d see my risk-averse maternal uncles, both in the government sector, treating their jobs like a 9 to 5 routine, with extended lunch breaks and smatterings of teatime chit-chat, (an incredible number of) public holidays, and sacrosanct weekends thrown in. “I will never be sacked, plus I’m already looking forward to my retirement benefits,” they would boast.

The ‘working’ women I knew were mostly teachers (“respectable” profession, that gave them time to raise kids). They were all (usually) associated with one school for the duration of their work lives, taking pride in the fact that “generations” of students were being educated by them in the ways of the world.

Soon, it was the 1990s, and worldviews changed. Somewhat. Upon graduation, I got my first job as a journalist (a ‘dodgy’ profession with an attendant ‘dubious’ lifestyle, many tried to tell me — but obviously in vain). I worked at my first job for almost eight years, where there would be annual increments of paltry sums that wouldn’t factor in inflation. But I didn’t care. The world was my oyster — or I was a frog in a well. Conditioned on discourses of “staying put”, I would look for excuses to not seek out greener pastures even when I thought that I maybe I should.

The only reason why I quit my first job was because the building that housed our media offices caught fire towards the end of the millennium. I gingerly took up an offer that came my way, and took at least a couple of months to get used to a new workplace.

Since then, I’ve changed a handful of jobs, but my dithering about being a rolling stone has gathered moss: I still tend to get complacent, and I’m still not comfortable snapping out of my ennui to be a job hopper even when I am egged on to.

However, I make it to point to tell the younger lot to not fall into the trap — unless they are unabashedly unambitious and would rather dabble with familiarity than disruption.

Here’s why.

Studies have shown that workers who stay with a company for longer than two years are getting paid up to 50 per cent less than new hires. As a piece in theladders.com titled ‘How often should you change jobs?’ puts it: “This means that many companies — perhaps even the company that you are currently working for — aren’t promoting employees, giving raises, or increasing benefits. After two years working for the same company you should begin to seek advancement.”

“Job hoppers” (almost a pejorative), the same article says, have shown to have a higher learning curve, be better performers, and tend to be more loyal, “possibly because they have a shorter amount of time to make a good impression”.

So, it’s clearly not just about the money: if you are a rolling stone, “with constant change in positions and environment, your skills set will continue to expand and evolve, compared to staying at the same position”.

The pitfalls of staying the course? You get complacent; your job becomes a routine, it becomes predictable; “you stop learning new skills, which can make it much harder to get a job down the road if you’d need to”.

According to a survey conducted a few years ago — and reported by accaglobal.com, in a piece titled ‘Why job hopping can be good’ — 75 per cent professionals under 34 felt that switching jobs frequently could benefit their careers.

The average raise a worker could expect in 2014 was approximately 3 per cent, but, with inflation at 2.1 per cent, that raise equates in real terms to just 1 per cent, the report quotes a stat published by Forbes. “By contrast, the average raise an employee receives for leaving their company is between a 10 per cent to 20 per cent increase in salary. In some cases, that figure can be as high as 50 per cent.”

The younger (and future) generations — millennials and Gen Z-ers — are reportedly putting a premium on wokeness: if the vision or the value system of the company they work for is not aligned to their mental map, they have no qualms about upping and leaving. Covid has, in a sense, aided the wokeness: many of them reported to having made value-based career choices during the pandemic.

“I don’t want to be taken for granted,” a young friend who recently quit a rather well- paying ‘steady’ job in the financial services sector, told me the other day.

“I’d rather be a freelance consultant for a while — Covid has really pressed the gig economy into top gear — and then decide whether or not I want to look up suitable vacancies.”

sushmita@khaleejtimes.com


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