Is Workplace Loyalty Holding Me Back?

This is not the post I had scheduled, but I need to draw on the collective wisdom of the PF blogosphere. Is workplace loyalty an outdated concept?

A Short History

18 months ago, I left my job for the one I’m now in. My previous job was part-time, 5 minutes from home, and reasonably paid on an ongoing contract basis. I enjoyed it, and still have a good relationship with the business, but for various reasons it was time for me to move on.

My “new” job is full-time, and takes about 1 hour door-to-door. You can see how I spend my hours in my Day in the Life post. I was employed to help the local rollout of a larger networked information system, due to go live in July 2016. Unsurprisingly this has been constantly delayed (at the higher level, nothing to do with me!) and the latest go-live estimate is March 2018. This job is better paid than my last, permanent, and has opportunities for advancement. I enjoy where I work, and what I do, but I don’t particularly enjoy the travel, and I especially don’t enjoy working full-time.

I Set A Goal

Once I realised this, I set myself a goal. When we achieved what I’d been employed to do, I would support the system for 6-12 months, then look for part-time opportunities. I really want to return to part-time work. It’s like sitting in the pointy end of the plane. Once you’ve done it, do you want to return to cattle-class? (OK, yes, PF/FIRE people do want cattle class. Have you seen the price of those tickets?!) Still, hopefully you understand what I mean.

Since I’ve started on the FI journey, I’ve identified so many things I’d like to try, as well as some old activities I’d like to pick up again. I really feel restricted in what I can do with the amount of time I currently have, while still having a life.

We discovered FI late enough that it’s not worth it to us to knuckle down to be finished in 10 years. Already our bodies are beginning to break down, so we want to leave ourselves opportunities to enjoy life now while still saving for the future. We’ll never be this young or healthy again!

I have actually told work of my long-term plans. Unfortunately the the chances of working part-time or job sharing in my current role are little to none. I was at peace with that, happy to complete my task, then move on when the time came. This is unusual in my workplace. When I started meeting people, I often heard phrases similar to “I haven’t been here long, only 8 years”. Culturally, 20 – 30 year careers are seen as the norm.

Woman pushing away stress
Not me, but my initial (and ongoing) reaction.

The Dilemma

A few days ago, Mr. ETT told me about a local job that seemed to match my skill set. I like to keep an eye on what the market is looking for, so I checked it out. It sounded like a good job, but full-time. Not interested.

Then on the same page, I saw another job. Local, part-time, paying an entire grade level higher than I’m currently getting. I meet each one of the criteria, and it sounds like interesting work. Different to what I’m doing now, but something I would also enjoy.

The thing is, this is 12 months too early. The thought of abandoning my current workplace is… I can barely think about it. I’m not overstating my importance here. I’m a small cog. However we are getting to a critical point in the project, and if I were to leave now, it could impact preparation activities that might reduce the level of successful implementation. By the time they manage to recruit and bring that person up to speed, it would be getting to go-live time (unless there’s another delay).

Also, recently I was successful in obtaining a 13 week secondment to do Business Analysis work. There’s another post on that, but some of my colleagues and managers really supported me when I was going for the position. If I were to leave, it feels like I am throwing their efforts back into their faces.

I also believe there will always be another job. That by articulating my goals, I’m open to seeing opportunities as they arise. Is that enough to let this one pass by, though?

Is Workplace Loyalty Important Enough?

I’ve got a permanent job that I enjoy. I feel like I am lucky in this respect, and should be grateful. But have I been conditioned to think this way? Am I buying in to external values set by society? Isn’t moving away from this type of thinking part of being a non-conformist? As an aside, my current pay level is spot on the average Australian wage. It’s also the highest I’ve ever earned in nearly 30 years of working. This is despite having a Bachelors, Masters and Graduate Certificate. I’m beginning to see where Mr. Groovy is coming from regarding his views on modern education practices.

I wasn’t sure about posting this before I’ve even applied. After all, I may not even reach interview stage. Then there’s a good possibility that a better candidate will get the job. Am I wasting time worrying about a situation that may not happen? This feels so significant to me, however, that I think I need time to process and prepare just in case.

For the record, Mr. ETT is telling me to go for it. He gleefully pointed out that if our roles were reversed, I’d be telling him to pursue it. That’s true, but I’m still uncertain. Guess it’s a case of do as I say, not as I do! He knows me best. He knows what will make me happy. I respect his opinion so will start the application process. But what do I do if I’m offered the job?

What do you think? Should loyalty to my company be a consideration in this case? In any case? Have you ever taken loyalty into consideration?

Or am I simply worrying too much, too early?

33 thoughts on “Is Workplace Loyalty Holding Me Back?

  1. Full Time Finance says:

    Loyalty is overrated. Most companies will have no loyalty to you if something happens. Also add to that even if you do not get the job interviewing is a good skill to keep in practice. Ultimately it cannot hurt to try and will likely help job change or not.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thanks FTF. You raise a really good point about the interview practice – I’m finding that just trying to write answers to the criteria is making me really review and articulate the skills I’ve picked up recently. It’s kind of painful, but is a good exercise.

      I know the company has no loyalty, but I think of my colleagues and other people I feel like I would be letting down.

  2. Miss Balance says:

    Let me try to remember what I wrote this morning….

    I say go for it. If you don’t get the job at least you won’t always be wondering what if.
    If you do get an offer, hopefully throughout the interview process you get to meet the team and as questions and can better decide if you would like to take the role. The people you work with and the culture can be more important than the $$.

    You project has already been extended once, it could very easily happen again and really throw off your timeline. As long as you do a good job when you are there, give the required notice and do a thorough handover, that is all you can do. I’m working on a project right now as well and I understand your point about feeling as if you are letting the team down. Number 1 should be looking after yourself though.

    Another side note though was that working full time close to home will still have you 10 hours per week. This will give you more time for other activities while also keeping your salary high enough to hit FI faster. If you were planning on working full time for at least another year anyway than you may as well so it closer to home.

    For me to travel an hour each way to work would be worth an extra $10-15k and I hope I never have to do it. I quit my job in the city and looked for something closer to home and have never been happier. If I ever move (which is likely since I can’t afford to buy here) I will likely look for work closer to home or even try to work from home if possible. The commute really drains me.

    I think those were my main points. Though if I think of anything else I’ll let you know 😊

    Please keep up updated on what happens.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I’m so sorry again – and it was a massive comment!

      Just seeing you write that I’d have an extra 10 hours a week makes my heart flutter. The job I’m going for is part-time, but I think with the higher grade and the savings from not travelling (if I get it, I could join LadyFIRE and try cycling to work, even!) it won’t make too much of a difference.

      I appreciate that you see where I’m coming from. Today at work I was thinking “how on earth could I leave?”, but you are right – the project has been extended about 4 times now. There’s no guarantee that it will happen when they say it will. Also, there’s a possibility the recruitment process may take some months so by working extra hard I could leave it in a much better position than otherwise.

      Regarding commuting, the job I’m in now is the limit of the distance either of us is willing to travel. That cuts out a lot of better paid jobs in the city, but it just isn’t worth it to us. We know we don’t want to live in (or pay to live in) Sydney city proper. I’m so glad to hear that working closer to home worked out well for you. It’s that balance between convenience, and still having a job that you’re happy to go each day.

      I’ll definitely keep you updated. It may well turn out to be a storm in a teacup… but I guess I won’t know unless I try.

  3. Cath @ Get MoneyWise says:

    Go for the new job – no doubt about it for me. The saving in travel time is worth it alone and part time jobs don’t come up that often.

    I used to be similar a people pleaser, who did not want to let people down. After two stints of maternity leave I have since learned everyone is replaceable so loyalty is something I give to my family now and not my workplace.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Cath, you are so right about part-time jobs. I thought that there would be way more, but where I’m looking they make up a fraction of a percentage of the jobs advertised. I was surprised about that, thanks for reminding me.

      I was working with the head office team yesterday, those responsible for the wider rollout. One of the team members is pregnant and will be having her baby in a couple of months. It did make me stop and think – she didn’t (and nor should she) put her life on hold for this project. Her position will certainly be far more sorely missed than mine, yet it’s still happening. They will cope, because they’ll have to.

  4. mrspickypincher says:

    I’m a job-hopper, so take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. I don’t really believe in workplace loyalty. If there’s a better job out there with better benefits, working hours, why would I stay at my current job? You owe your company absolutely nothing, just how they owe you nothing. I think it’s this attitude that keeps people in the same position for years when they’re unable to grow. It’s a guilt trip that makes us okay with the status quo.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      That’s me, Mrs Picky. I feel like I’m a job-hopper, yet I still have my head in the “job for life” camp. I think this is worse because it has only been 18 months. When I consider it, I would probably feel more comfortable if I had been there for 3 years or so. I have no idea where this arbitrary number comes from! I know so many people who are only offered 6 – 12 month contracts, and that’s OK. Maybe it’s because I would be leaving a “permanent” job in this work marketplace of uncertainty?

      I hadn’t thought of the second part of the equation – “just how they owe you nothing.” If I take a step back, it is purely an exchange of time for money, isn’t it? But it’s the people that help make that exchange a happier place to be, and that’s really where I feel guilty.

      • Miss Balance says:

        Sorry had to jump in here again – ‘permanent’ is not guaranteed. Look how many restructures happen all the time….If a budget needs to get cut people get chopped all the time.

  5. fierymillennials says:

    I’ve been struggling with this issue myself. I’ve been at the same company for 5 years. I love it here, and I have my ‘dream job’. But then my friend forwarded an opening to me and it’s a perfect fit. I could double my pay. So, I polished up the resume and went for it. Who knows, it may already be filled. But it’s worth a shot- which is what my advice to you is. You only promised your current job X amount of time. It’s not your fault it got delayed. I say go for it!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hi Gwen, welcome and thanks for commenting! Friends and husbands, shattering our happily held ideals. 😉 Your decision would have been so much harder to make, especially because you are in your dream job right now. A doubling in pay is certainly an incentive to try, though. Thanks for letting me know that you went for it, good luck!

      Actually, maybe this is really the best situation to be in. If we don’t get the jobs, we are both happy to continue on in the ones we currently have. It’s so much worse for people who are desperate to get out. We don’t really have much to lose, do we?

  6. Mrs Groovy says:

    Thanks for mentioning Mr. Groovy’s post!
    I’m totally with FTF and Mrs. PP on this — loyalty is overrated. You didn’t sign a contract and most employers often have no loyalty whatsoever. Giving notice and moving on is standard practice.

    OK here’s a story. I worked with a lovely woman, who always had goodies at her desk to share, a smile, and kind words for everyone. Her boss was demanding and gave confusing instructions. One day, she was fired on the spot. She was walked to the elevator and told to come back for her things later in the week — when she returned she was forced to wait in the lobby while someone brought her a box of her belongings. Our company handled no sensitive information and didn’t perform any monetary transactions. It was a nonprofit society for nerds! Also, my coworker was over 50 and had a hearing problem – everyone was aware of it but her boss always stood behind her at her desk when she spoke to her. My coworker needed to see faces to understand the conversation. She could have sued their asses but she didn’t bother. She just got another job very quickly.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Mrs. Groovy, that story horrifies me. And yet, it has reminded me of another company I know who has been behaving similarly recently. It’s also a non-profit, so to me makes no sense whatsoever. The actions don’t seem to match the ethic. This is indeed a reminder that even good companies can go bad, and all it takes is a single individual within a company to make your life miserable. I guess that while I”m struggling with the thought of leaving the people, it can also be people that make you want to leave!

  7. Pia says:

    If it was me, I’d try for it. I figure I would actually decide when we get there to that point. The chinese have a saying that “when the boat reaches the bridge head, it will naturally straighten” – the path will be a lot clearer when you are actually at there. The only loyalty you should have is to yourself, and if you get to the interview, nail it and get the job, you can then reassess how you feel about it.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I like that saying, Pia. Past experience tells me it is true, but in the moment of indecision, this is the kind of thing I need reminding about. Hopefully the clarity will come (or I won’t be suitable for the position and then all of the hard thinking will have been done for me. My laziness knows no bounds.)

      I’ve written the saying down to remind me when I start to panic over what I’ve done!

  8. Journeys of The Zoo says:

    Dear Mrs. ETT,

    I think it’s great that you have job options and are interested in pursuing what is best for you and your family.

    Is there any problem with you applying for the position regardless of your loyalty (or lack thereof)? If not, at the very least, it would be experience for when you apply for other positions in 12 months.

    As for what to do if you get offered the job, I suggest that you apply, get the job and then we’ll talk. You don’t have to accept the position even if you’re offered it. Just like you don’t have to stay at your current job even if you are the cog that makes it run. They will survive without you. Note that I am exactly like you and would be planning all the what if’s out to the nth degree so do as I say, not as I do 😉

    All the best with whatever you decide.

    Besos Sarah.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thank you, Sarah. I really am in an advantageous position in that I don’t hate my current job. I quite like it. The action that I’m taking will be OK either way (just one comes with mental anguish…)

      I did put in my application last night and if nothing else it was a good exercise. It forced me to articulate all of the work I’ve been doing in the last 18 months, and as Full Time Finance stated, if I get an interview then that will be good to keep me in the game. Job applications really are a lot of hard work. It took over 2,000 words to address all of the selection criteria.

      I love how you stated “get the job and then we’ll talk.” Simple, to the point. I need to stop wasting energy and brainpower worrying and feeling guilty about something that hasn’t actually occurred yet. May indeed may never occur! I’m hoping that as Pia stated, the way will become clear if I am offered the job. If not, we may indeed need to be back here talking.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, from one planner to another.

      • Journeys of The Zoo says:

        Dear Mrs ETT,

        I totally understand the time aspect (I used to be a consultant and had to bid on jobs). I think it’s great to review all your accomplishments, perhaps you’ll find reason to ask for a raise! All the best with the job process, it sounds like you’ll be happy no matter what the outcome and more experienced for it.

        Besos Sarah.

  9. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer says:

    The way I look at it is that the workplace is not loyal to us, and we need to return the favor by looking out for ourselves. Projects can be delayed, and delayed again -can’t put your life and career on hold for it. As long as you’re not abandoning at a really critical point where you can’t be replaced, you’re good. Also there’s never anything wrong with applying and seeing what’s out there.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Liz, you raise an excellent point that I hadn’t considered – while it would not be great if I left the project now, it wouldn’t be critical. However, depending on how long the recruitment process takes we could definitely be heading into that territory. I knew that you would have valuable insights, thanks for sharing.

  10. Adventures With Poopsie says:

    I realise this is very late, and you may have already applied. But I say go for it. You never know what will happen.

    I think I saw on Twitter that it is a government job. Poopsie applied for a couple of government jobs (different department to where he currently works) back in 2015 and a couple of those took over a year from when he applied to when he got a final answer. So you never know, by the time you’re offered the job, it could be very close to your timeline anyway.

    I also agree with above that interview skills are good to have. I personally don’t have them as I have been with the same organisation since university, but it’s always something I tell myself I should brush up on.

    Good luck!!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Haha, that was Miss Balance speculating. Government jobs certainly come with more paperwork and bureaucracy required than any other job I’ve heard of! I’d like to say I can’t believe it took 12 months for Poopsie to hear back, but unfortunately I can believe it. Just crazy.

      That’s fantastic you’ve been with the same organisation since Uni. I started off with fairly long-term jobs, but I’ve been moving around probably far more than is sensible over the past few years. I did put in an application, but I’m still really unsure. I’ll let you know how I get on.

  11. weenie says:

    Hey Mrs ETT

    From the other side of the coin, I don’t think loyalty is always overrated. I say that because although I was made redundant after 21 years with the same firm, as far as redundancies go, we were treated fairly and with respect. I wouldn’t say it was the business which instilled loyalty (there were 4 members in our team, total years worked between us for the company was 70 years and we were not the longest serving members!) – it was the people who inspired loyalty. Although I like my new job, I still very much miss my old ‘work family’.

    That said, with the extra hours of life you will be getting, it makes sense for you to go for the job move. If that wasn’t so important to you, I don’t think you’d have this dilemma.

    2000 words for that job application – wow! With the job I got in the end, I uploaded my CV onto a recruitment ‘library’ and was contacted for interview within a day or so – I guess I (and the company!) got lucky!

    Speaking of which, good luck (fingers crossed!)

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thank you, Weenie. I do sometimes wonder whether I may be earning more now if I hadn’t been so flighty in the last decade (although I regret none of my choices, I’ve had a range of interesting and enjoyable jobs.)

      I feel like I’m torn between two worlds. I grew up with a job for life ethic, but I’m living the reality which is that mostly doesn’t exist any more.

  12. Sophei @ Basic Finance Care says:

    Hi, Everybody. I’ve read the post and each one’s comment. We shared our problem or whatever confusion in our mind to others in the expectation not only to get the solution, but also make our mind understanding what is best for us from which angle. Actually, You have the answer what you have to do. We’re here just helping you to clear your doubt and stick on a decision. Yes, no job is permanent. And about loyalty, I think it’s essential to show towards your designation and assigned task. So don’t think deeply about it anywhere. Just continue your task loyally. I will suggest you, love your work not the company. Because how much time you are giving to your company due to your loyalty and perfection of work is sufficient. If you think you will fruitful more from all angles from your new job and will able to give max to max then switch.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hi Sophei. You’re right that I wrote this post to help me clear my own mind. Your comment about showing loyalty to my designation and assigned task probably gets to the core of the issue. Maybe this isn’t about workplace loyalty, but is more about me wanting to finish a job that I was employed to do. Certainly something to think about, thank you.

  13. Strong Money Australia says:

    I think it’s important to listen to our spouses, as it’s true, they know us best. Ultimately if going part-time is going to make your life better, more freedom and happiness, then there isn’t much to think about 🙂

    Loyalty is somewhat misguided these days. It tends to be only one way. We may be loyal to banks, but they don’t look after us. Energy companies and most others only give special offers and discounts to ‘new’ customers. How bullshit is that? Even workplaces that I’ve been in, tend to be pretty ungrateful and often not looking after their staff well.

    A bit negative perhaps, but I do think loyalty is overrated these days. Companies, workplaces etc. should earn our loyalty, we don’t just give it up straight away. We’re classier than that lol 😉

    All the best with it!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thanks SMA. I was talking/worrying to Mr. ETT again about it last night. He just laughed at me and said again that I should definitely go for it if I get the chance of an interview. I can see it’s perfectly clear in his head. Objectively I know that my workplace has no loyalty other than that required by law. I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s less about the workplace, and more about my expectations of myself to finish what I started, like Sophei commented. I’ve not had trouble leaving jobs in the past, but this is the first job that is so strongly project-based. And I do like it!

  14. Adventures With Poopsie says:

    Right Mrs ETT. Poopsie here. I know I’m a bit late, however…

    I feel like everyone else has let this go through to the keeper – ‘Already our bodies are beginning to break down’ – I’m in my mid 40s and am in the best shape of my life. I regularly outrun and out lift the 20 somethings at the gym and on the track (and I’m quite lazy) – so you’ve got no excuse. Do the work and reap the reward of feeling young for longer.

    I’ve seen people at work come and go, and resilient organisations are able to absorb any personnel changes. I can’t remember the number of meetings I’ve sat in where it seemed the world was going to end because someone was leaving the organisation, and do you know what, within a month most people hadn’t even noticed they were gone.

    Just imagine, if you interview and get the job how much bargaining power you’ll have at your current job on flex-hours and a pay rise, and if you don’t, then you know that they don’t really value you anyway. Win-win (although you’ll still probably feel bad).

    Who dares wins!!!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hey Poopsie – you’re right on the exercise angle. I have no excuse and need to work harder on maintaining this. Although I will assert you are the exception rather than the rule, looking at our friends. Hardly any of them don’t have one sort of “itis” or another. One of the things I said I would do with my extra days is make sure I add exercise to them!

      I hadn’t thought about the organisation being able to absorb change. I work in such a large one, this is definitely something I’ve seen. I could be hit by a bus today, and while it would be difficult, the show would go on. I think it’s just because in this situation, I am making a deliberate choice to make their lives difficult, particularly my colleagues. You just got me thinking, maybe I really am overthinking this. If anyone else from my team left, I’d be saying “good on you, congratulations.” Then we’d just do what we needed to do, to cover.

      Also, that’s true about the negotiating power. I could definitely try that. Fingers crossed!

      • Eliza @ money meet mind says:

        So agree with Poopsie on the body bit. Reflecting on both my husband’s and my families, I reckon mindset is critical to how you age. Some family members have been saying since their early 50s that they’re getting old and their bodies aren’t what they used to be. Now in their mid 60s they can barely get down on the floor to play with their grand kids. The others wouldn’t be caught dead acknowledging they’re no longer spring chickens. Yet, they’re the ones running 10K fun runs with their 30 year old kids, doing multi week cycling tours and planning to hike the Inca Trail. Good luck with the application!

  15. timeinthemarket says:

    I think it’s important to take the context of your job when talking about loyalty. If you’re working for a company that treats its employees well and rewards loyalty with nice raises and bonuses then loyalty is certainly warranted. If you work for a massive corporation that treats a every employee like any other and doesn’t reward hard work or loyalty then why be loyal to a company like that? I know there are a ton of companies out there that wouldn’t think twice about laying off people when they needed to save money or boost profits and yet they expect those same employees to be loyal and happy with 1-2% raises.

    It sounds like you like your job which generally means you’re well taken care of but there’s always room for improvement. It also sounds like part of that may come from an innate desire to just finish a task and feeling pride in your own work which is nice to see as well. The one thing to remember there is that you spend an extra hour traveling and more time working than you would at other jobs and that may lead to a trade off against your free time. That free time can be used to do something with which you feel pride and create a new task to finish.

    There’s certainly no harm in interviewing for some of these new jobs that will open your day up and maybe trying to use that as leverage to get a bigger pay bump here which will help down the line with your FI journey.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Welcome, TITM, and thanks for your considered comment. You’ve cut straight to the core of the issues – as time passes, I really feel as if I do want to focus on getting the job done right now. Looking at my free time as a way to have tasks of my own to take pride in is a new way of thinking for me. I definitely have ideas and projects that I want to try and that I believe I could get a lot of satisfaction from them. This is a driver for why I wanted to work part-time, but even reducing the commute could do so much more for me. Whether it is now, or later, I will definitely make it happen for me in the near future.

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