The talent revolution is here and with all the jobs available, you may be thinking the grass is greener at a different employer. But you also know changing jobs is a lot of work. Finding something new and then hitting your stride in a different role will require time, risk and a lot of energy.
What if you could learn to love the job you have and the organization you’re already part of? According to research, there are three elements which will make you want to stay, and the effort to love what you have is less than what it takes to love something new—giving you more time for activities other than job-seeking.
Why Staying May Make Sense
The reasons to stay in your current company vary, but they are significant:
- Maintain your network. If you stay in your current organization, it’s easier to maintain your contacts. You’ve built your relationships and have people you can count on for advice and support—as well as people you can mentor or friendships you can nurture. If you start at a new company, you have to build your internal network from scratch.
- Grow your career. You career is built based on people who know, trust, value and will open doors for you. Of course, you need the capabilities and grit to put yourself out there, but it will be the people around you who support your journey. It’s true that sometimes you can boost your position or pay by shifting to a new company, but you’ll also need to grow within an existing organization. Your network is how you’ll do it through the help of people who know you and with whom you’ve built a relationship.
- Sustain your brand. Staying with your current company allows you to maintain the brand-building you’ve already done. When you have credibility and people know your skills and appreciate your unique talents, you can build on this rather than starting over.
- Thrive in the culture. Cultural assumptions are largely invisible, but over time you get to know your culture, appreciate it and contribute to it. Staying with your current organization allows you to be part of something you know and value without having to generate all-new knowledge of another organization’s set of cultural nuances and norms.
How to Love Staying
Sticking with your current company has plenty of benefits, but you still want to love what you do as much as possible. And there are key ways to do that based on the social science concept of embeddedness. It describes the conditions that will cause you to stay in a role for various reasons. Here’s what it takes to amp up your experience:
Bond With Your People
A significant way to increase satisfaction at your current company is by expanding and solidifying your connections with colleagues. You know we all crave connection with others, but it’s also true that we have an instinct to matter. You want to make a difference and contribute your skills in a way that others find value in what you bring. In addition, belonging isn’t just a feeling of being together, it is a feeling of sharing social identity and striving together toward a common purpose.
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Here are ways to generate and solidify relationships:
- Set up coffee. An acquaintance once said she wasn’t available for coffee because she didn’t drink the stuff—she just didn’t like it. Of course, she was missing the point. Coffee is an excuse to get together, a vehicle to facilitate connection and networking. You should leverage it as much as you can. A colleague who is starting a consulting business may have coffee a few times a day. He gets it. Whether he’s drinking tea, water or, well…coffee, he is nourishing his relationships through rich and diverse discussions.
- Seek a mentor. Common wisdom is right—you’re not likely to go far in your company without a mentor. But it is a rare mentorship relationship that just happens. You’ll want to be intentional about identifying a good mentor and asking that person to regularly provide you with advice and guidance. Find someone at least two levels above you who is in a different part of the organization. These are the people who can provide the most objectivity and coaching. Take the initiative to regularly set time with them to ask questions, get perspective and talk through career steps.
- Leverage your responsibilities. While you can certainly build relationships through (virtual) happy hours or axe throwing experiences, a much more powerful way to cement bonds is through tasks. When we’re working hard on something and united in solving a problem or reaching a goal, the conditions are best for strengthening ties. Invite colleagues into projects, which sends the message you value them. If you’re in the midst of an endeavor, get to know others on the team and be intentional about appreciating their skills and unique personalities. When you feel a strong connection to your community, you’ll have a greater level of satisfaction and embeddedness with your company.
Find Your Fit
Another scientifically-based aspect of satisfaction with your current employer is how well you feel you fit—with your job, team and the organization as a whole. There is no perfect job or team or company, but when you feel more alignment with the work, values and behaviors of people around you, you’ll be far more fulfilled.
Here’s how to increase your fit:
- Get clear on purpose. Remind yourself of your organization’s purpose—not just its desire for growth or economic gain, but how it impacts customers and stakeholders. From there, ensure you feel connected to that goal and have a sense of how you contribute to it. Perhaps you’re a great writer and you craft the messages that stir customers or you’re a brilliant project manager and your organization contributes to products that enrich customers’ experiences. Confirm your part of the whole.
- Know your team’s work. Take time to deeply understand what your team members do. When you can understand their experiences and demands, you’ll feel more connected, and it will help you realize how your work influences their success. Ask questions, shadow them for a day or request feedback about how your work can (even more) positively affect their work.
- Expand your contribution. Doing work that matters is important, but you will also be more satisfied if you feel your work is expanding and evolving. Enhance your role by looking for new problems to solve or emerging needs that must be fulfilled. Look to the edges of your work for fresh ways to contribute. For example, perhaps you work in marketing and decide to pursue a new platform which could add value for your organization’s customer reach. Or perhaps you’re in a leadership role and you encourage your team to try a new app that can keep them in touch and connected. Doing work within your responsibilities which also pushes its boundaries will stimulate and inspire you.
Consider Your Investments
Interestingly, another way to increase your satisfaction with your current job is to remind yourself of the sacrifices that would be required to make a change. While the grass may seem greener on the other side, it takes effort to get there.
- Clarify the process. Be clear about the networking you’ll have to do, the resume you’ll need to update and the interviews you’ll have to endure. Also remind yourself of the personal investment you’ll need to make in putting yourself out there for judgement and scrutiny. These can all be points of growth, but they require investment of energy, so you want to make these investments when you have a lot to gain.
- Weigh your happiness ratio. Any time you make a change, you are essentially placing a bet that your future self will be happier than your present self—that the conditions you create for tomorrow will be better than today. Consider not just what you have to gain in terms of a potential new job, but also what you have to lose. Be sure the effort of making the change will give you a greater amount of happiness than you have now. If the risk is high, or the increase in happiness is negligible, then it may not be worth the trouble.
Sometimes making a change is a great thing. Change for the sake of change can keep you fresh and challenged. But changing your company or organization also represents significant investments of time and effort. You could invest in your current circumstance with potentially greater effect. Weigh the costs and ensure you’re given your present situation your very best before you put aside what you have for what you may (or may not) gain through change. It’s likely you can learn to love your job and your company through becoming increasingly embedded.