How long has it been since you met someone who started and ended his or her career at the same company? The days of working 40+ years for the same employer and retiring with a generous pension after years of company loyalty have been replaced with a new norm – changing jobs every few years in constant pursuit of knowledge, challenge, and career satisfaction.

According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, those born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 12.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 52. Similarly, the median tenure for U.S. wage and salary workers is only 4.2 years. While numbers will vary depending on age, industry, and location, chances are that nearly everyone will change jobs at least a few times in his or her career.

So barring layoffs and company closures, how should you know when it’s time to make a switch? Due to a downturn in the job market resulting from COVID-19, competition is fierce and many employees may be reluctant to abandon the familiar for the unknown. While leaving an old job for a new one always involves a bit of uncertainty, there are some factors that make it worth the risk. Let’s look at a few situations that warrant taking a leap of faith in your career.

You’re Overworked

As a business grows, so does the number of tasks that need to be completed in order to keep it running successfully. However, sometimes, in an effort to maximize profits, employers don’t grow their staff as quickly as new tasks pile up, leaving them to be completed by current staff. When this happens, employees may find themselves taking on more and more duties outside their job description, leaving them feeling frustrated, overwhelmed or disengaged. Of course, some added job duties can be expected in any role. However, if months or years pass and responsibilities continue to add up, the employer’s unwillingness to increase headcount and assign realistic workloads may prompt a job search.

Your Salary Hasn’t Increased

As your workload increases and you continue to prove your value to your employer, your salary should increase accordingly. The U.S. inflation rate typically fluctuates between 1.9 and 2.1 percent annually. Therefore, employees who don’t see at least this increase in their paychecks each year are actually making less than they did in previous years. Obviously, most employers want to know that employees can handle their job duties and make a positive contribution to the company before handing out raises. However, if you continue to receive positive feedback on your performance, yet your salary has not kept pace with your assigned responsibilities or the cost of living, a job change may be in order.

You Don’t Feel Challenged

Job hopping doesn’t have the same negative stigma it once did, mainly because most employers now prioritize a progressive record of responsibility and challenge over multiple years of tenure with the same employer. If you’re not being challenged regularly at your current job, it’s up to you to seek out a role that will push you to accomplish new goals, acquire new skills and exceeds expectations on a regular basis rather than simply performing the same tasks day in and day out.

You Don’t Feel Appreciated

According to a recent study, 66 percent of employees said they would likely leave their job if they felt unappreciated, while 76 percent of millennials said the same. There are a number of different motivators that drive employees in their careers. Some seek money, some seek challenges, some seek work/life balance, but everyone wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. Employers that fail to recognize workers for work well done will struggle with employee retention as employees gravitate to companies that foster a culture of appreciation.

You Lack of Job Satisfaction

The average employee spends 13 years and two months of their lives at work, or around a quarter of their time during their working years. This is a frightening statistic when combined with the fact that 80 percent of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. Do you really want to spend 13+ years doing something you find unsatisfying? The first step is to determine the source of your dissatisfaction. Is it your manager, your job duties, your industry, a lack of work/life balance? All of these can be changed, though some may take longer than others (i.e., changing industries may be more difficult than finding a new manager). Life is too short to spend years in an unfulfilling career.

Your Work Environment Is Toxic

Probably the most urgent reason to change jobs is a toxic work environment. Unfortunately, there are managers and companies that employ harsh language, abusive behavior or threats as a means of motivation. While this may achieve short-term results, it inevitably leads to high employee turnover, disengagement, indifference or apathy to work quality, and a work culture so stressful that it can cause a number of health issues. Most employees who have the misfortune of experiencing a toxic work environment will say that any sacrifice is worth escaping.

Few people claim their job is perfect. There’s always room for an employer to improve, just as there is for an employee. However, most organizations aren’t subject to an employee evaluation like employees are to a performance review. If an employee is given the opportunity to provide feedback to a manager, issues may take time to resolve or may require changes from company leaders. As a shorter job tenure becomes more widely accepted, employees are finding less reason to wait months or years for their job situation to improve. Instead, they are actively seeking out better opportunities in order to further their career. Employers must now offer much more than just a paycheck to attract and retain top talent.

For those currently employed and on the job hunt, what other reasons have you experienced that prompted your search?


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