Today, loyalty feels like a lost art. It's often hard to see where allegiances lie and who really has your back. Sadly, this is especially true in the workplace and in our careers.
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Over the years, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon. Even when we know things are going badly, many of us want to hang in there for the good of the company. In theory, it's good to be committed – but, in practice, this level of dedication doesn't always make sense in today's job market.
Company layoffs are a fairly common way for organizations to save money. Even the best employees are at risk of being cut after years of service. It's an unfortunate fact, but it's true nonetheless. Pair this state of affairs with the fact that employees are switching jobs much more often than they used to, and you end up with a job market that is entirely different from what it was just 20 years ago.
I often encounter hard-working employees about whom I'm concerned. These are the kind of people who put in more time than they're required to. They take work home at night and on the weekends. The may even take business calls on their personal time.
These same hard-working employees often choose to stay at their jobs despite the signs that it may be time to go. Perhaps their colleagues were recently let go, or the company has been restructuring a little too often, or the organization is losing money and the executives seem nervous – but regardless of all these red flags, the hard workers are committed. They want to stick it out.
Many of them feel they still have stable jobs – and why would anyone give that up?
The problem is, if there are signs that things might be going south, chances are they will eventually go that way. This means the committed worker may well lose their seemingly stable job, no matter how much work they've put in.
The bottom line is this: Business is business. Companies know that. It's why they don't hesitate to cut employees when they need to save money. A business is loyal to the business itself first and foremost – not to the individual workers. In the same way, hard-working employees should take care of themselves. They should put their own careers first.
I'm not talking about jumping ship for no reason, but if you start to feel like things are wrong, don't ignore that intuition. Listen to yourself.
If you don't, you could end up blindsided by unemployment. Being out of work takes away your options. It forces you to quickly take a job that you may not really like. At times, unemployment can even spark a vicious cycle of moving from bad job to bad job.
But all of that could be avoided if you make your own success a priority.
Remember, you are the CEO of your own career. In the same way that businesses must protect their futures, you must protect yours.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.