As I was growing up, one of the biggest topics brought up at the dinner table always involved work. Family members and friends bonded by talking about their jobs and the number of changes they experienced in their many years working for the same company. During interludes in conversation, the adults would always stress to me the importance of hard work, loyalty and finding success by working for the same company until retirement. While I carried the torch of hard work and dedication as I entered college, often burning countless candles studying and diligently grinding away at multiple jobs, I soon realized that following those three core values won’t guarantee success. In fact, falling into the mindset of company loyalty and expecting to never be let go based on that merit alone is one of the biggest pitfalls a person can make in their professional career. Some employees also view themselves as indispensable assets, which is disingenuous at best. All employees are expendable and can be relieved of a position at any time.
Why employees aren’t indispensable assets
As a disclaimer, while I believe that employees aren’t indispensable assets based on the previous positions that I’ve held in the past five years, I implore any employee to work hard, be passionate about their profession and maintain loyalty to their company. Loyalty is a good thing; the idea that a company will never let an employee go because they are loyal is a harmful expectation to carry into the workplace.
Having said that, when a lot of people land a job that meets their current wants and needs they may become complacent. Some motivators to continue exceeding goals and surpassing key performance indicators include raises or vertical growth, but too often people feel satisfied and will perform the minimum work required to stand in the good graces of the company. Complacency is one of the easiest ways that employees lose relevance and competitiveness in their respective industries. The game is always changing as new staff are coming in with innovative ideas, comparable skills as well as a willingness to work at a lower salary than a seasoned employee.
Even if an employee isn’t complacent and is effective in their job function, a company’s overall health will always take precedence over the needs of the individual. If they can find and implement ways to hire cheaper labor with comparable performance, or outsource staff to save on their budget, departments and teams can and will be replaced. Sometimes companies need to downsize to cut back on costs, or no longer see the value of funding certain divisions. Many factors play into a company’s decision-making that are sometimes out of an employee’s control, marking the importance of never feeling comfortable and always striving for excellence as an individual in preparation for other opportunities.
Importance of staying competitive
The candidate pool is the most competitive it has ever been as workers gain a wide range of skills, management styles and knowledge from working different positions at different companies. In today’s market it’s uncommon to spend a majority of a career working for the same company in the same position. As Millennials will eventually constitute 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, only half of them plan on staying at the same company for longer than a year, according to a Gallup poll. It’s necessary to stay ahead of the pack, rather than falling behind through complacency.
Employees aren’t indispensable assets
At the end of the day, many bright, skilled and resourceful employees are being replaced every day. The cogs of a company will spin without them and they can be replaced by someone else at any given time. Employees need to move away from the thought that they are indispensable assets and shift their focus to making themselves diverse, skilled and competitive in their desired industry.