Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Right Time to Quit Your Job

Recently a friend of mine called me up, seeking advice about a new job opportunity. He hadn't been looking for new work but opportunity came knocking. We talked about the substance of this new position - the pros and cons but then we touched upon this point - is this the right time for him to leave?

Is it disloyal for an employee to pursue a better opportunity? I don't think so. Is leaving your current job for a better one always the right thing to do? Well, I'm not sure about that either.

Some think that in a capitalistic society, an employee has no obligations to the employer other than to do specified work for specified pay.... until someone else offers a better deal. But is that really the right way to approach our jobs? Let's turn the tables - what if you hired an employee, paid a fair wage, invested months in training, only to have him quit for 5%-10% more in salary. Does that seem right to you?

Others hang on to the idea that loyalty to your company is core value to be upheld. Yet in an environment where most individuals have numerous jobs in a lifetime, the idea of loyalty to company doesn't seem to ring true. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report that baby boomers typically hold 10.5 jobs from the age of 18 - 40. Furthermore, corporations typically aren't making decisions about your future employment based on loyalty so I'm not sure about playing that loyalty card. It sounds good but is the idea of being loyal to an employer, biblically supported?

What's the right way to think about this? Let me offer a couple of thoughts here that may guide the decision making process.

1. Love for Neighbor - I think the issue isn't really about loyalty. I'm not sure there is any biblical mandate to extend loyalty to a corporate entity. But I do think there is an issue of love for those you work with, for your supervisor, your customers, or other stakeholders. There is such a thing as a "bad time to leave your job"... not because it's bad for you but because it's bad for everyone else. If you're in the middle of critical project where others count on you, that's a bad time to leave. It's not loving to leave people in a lurch. Or like the scenario we discussed earlier - where an employee leaves after being trained but before really contributing, simply because he's been offered a better paying opportunity.

2. Fulfilling to Our Explicit Commitments - no company should expect you to stay until you retire but if you've given your word that you'll stay for some duration, you ought to live up to your commitments.

3. Honoring the Reputation of Christ - the timing and manner by which we leave our current employment can either bring honor or disrepute to Christ. Why and how we leave a job often speaks to others about what we value. If you value financial gain above all else, then leaving your current job for a better paying one is always the right choice. If pursuing fulfilling work is the greatest value, then you may be worshiping before the god of self actualization. Valuing the reputation of Jesus Christ means that your motives and actions will befit one who considers fame or fortune lightly when compared to the opportunity of magnifying Christ as your treasure.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts on this.


Rachel Mc said...

On Sept 8th I gave a 3 week notice to my supervisor. I am leaving a job where I have been 3 years for a job that brings an awesome opportunity (and a lot more responsibility and work) I didn't look for this new job, it found me thru a friend of a friend of a friend.....etc. I interviewed 4 times in August and actually twice told them it wasn't the right time for me to leave where I was. Each time they called me back and then we would talk for a couple of hours on my goals, personal and professional, and the new company's goals. What impressed me the most about the new boss is he genuinely asked questions about my future, where I saw myself in the big picture. I have NEVER been thru an interview process where so much thought is given to the applicant and the applicant is given time (a month) to think it over. In the end what convinced me is that the new boss told me to think about the decision for myself, but he always told me he thought I was the one he needed in the position. I guess you could say he used gentle persuasion, I think he showed his true character and that is what sold me on making the move. yes I am nervous to start the new job, but I think I will be comfortable there.

HALFMOM said...

Good post ESL. The other question to ask, I am thinking, is whether it is a good time to the "body" you belong to should the new position take you away. That is a very big consideration for me at the moment. Do I try to find a way to stick it out where I am or find something close by so I can stay within the fellowship that needs me right now in the midst of a huge transition, or do I just broadly cast applications because they are in my area or more suited to my skill set than where I am currently.

Red Letter Believers said...

Over at Red Letter Believers blog we had a conversation about quitting. And it really showed some passion on this issue.

Akbarali Jetha said this -- "Quite often we change jobs, friends and spouses instead of ourselves.”--


So what is the reason for the change? Is it money? Is it pride? Is it because you can't get along. I had a friend who changed job every three months or so. He 'wasn't challenged' or the 'boss was overbearing' or 'the workplace was negative.'

After a while I asked, "what's the one common denominator?"

it was him.

Here are some posts on the subject:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Great thoughts here. Thanks.

Every Square Inch said...

rachel - congratulations on your new job! It sounds like you were thoughtful about taking the new opportunity. Hope you enjoy your new job.

susan - I didn't realize the choices and challenges you were facing. Jus the fact that you are weighing the impact of your decision on the church you belong to is commendable. Many don't give it a second thought - they just take the job without consideration to others...least of all to their church fellowship

Every Square Inch said...

RLB - Without question, there are some who will locate the problem at work everywhere except within themselves. Thanks for your thoughts

Ted - thanks for the encouragement

L.L. Barkat said...

I guess I've classically left a job when I finally recognized I'd been bored for a while. In some cases, it took years... in others, well...

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

My church is my family - and honestly, they know me better, have a more clear concept of who I am and what I'm all about that most all of my biological family - (my daughter excluded of course - she's got "my number" in a way no one else has!). We've been through a really rough few years at our church and the last year has been particularly difficult with many families leaving. So, now things are starting to turn around and there are questions going about like, "how are we a dysfunctional body and what do we do about it", and "what do we need to do so that we all really become a family and love each other"? So, it seems just like a bad time to leave just when things are looking up - besides, I just love those guys. I get to go to church after all with the Cravers!!

So - do pray for me. God will have to be creative for sure to keep me here - and though I am certainly willing to move, I am beginning to clearly see that my heart is still here.