In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, employees often find themselves caught between loyalty to their current jobs and the fear of the unknown. These two factors can significantly influence an employee’s decision to stay in the current position or seek new opportunities. The interplay of both these factors can vary significantly.
“When employees feel immensely loyal towards their organisation, they experience a strong sense of security and attachment. This loyalty may lead them to stay put, even in the face of uncertainty,” opines Praveen Purohit, deputy CHRO, Vedanta Resources. The belief that their current organisation will support them through challenging times can counterbalance the fear of the unknown.
However, according to Anil Mohanty, senior HR leader, “Loyalty is just one factor that pushes people to stay on in a job for long. Many individuals stay on because they find themselves in a comfort zone and are simply hesitant to explore opportunities beyond their familiar surroundings.”
Such individuals often harbour a fear of the unknown, believing that the known challenges they face are preferable to potential new challenges. People often wonder why they should look somewhere else when they have everything available in one place, giving in to the belief that ‘the known devil is better than the unknown devil.’
“When employees feel immensely loyal towards their organisation, they experience a strong sense of security and attachment. This loyalty may lead them to stay put, even in the face of uncertainty.”
Praveen Purohit, deputy CHRO, Vedanta Resources
The foundation of loyalty in the corporate world is solidified when employees commit to the employer with the intention of a long-term association. The majority of people come with this intention, and they often follow through with it.
Conversely, if employees perceive that their loyalty is not reciprocated, or if they believe staying in their current job poses significant risks to their career or well-being, the fear of the unknown may outweigh their loyalty, prompting them to explore new avenues.
“Loyalty can be fostered if employers offer their employees the best possible roles, generous compensation and opportunities for wealth creation. In the past, loyalty was primarily seen in terms of the duration of one’s tenure. However, today, it’s less about time and more about a broader purpose and context,” asserts Purohit.
Recalling her own journey, Deepti Mehta, CHRO, Interface Microsystems, remembers how despite tempting offers from other companies, she remained committed due to the trust in and opportunities provided by her current employer. And sure enough, her loyalty paid off when she was selected for a significant global programme. Her ability to take risks and overcome challenges in her role was highly recognised by the organisation. Therefore, she believes, “Loyalty is crucial and can be fostered by the organisation in several ways. It not only benefits the individuals themselves but also acknowledges the investment made by the company and managers in their growth,” she added.
Sometimes, the decision to stay put in a job depends on the personal circumstances and aspirations of the employees. Some feel content in their current places and remain loyal, while others are forever keen to explore more. Ultimately, it’s about managing one’s career in a way that aligns with one’s goals and experiences.
“Loyalty is just one factor that pushes people to stay on in a job for long. Many individuals stay on because they find themselves in a comfort zone and are simply hesitant to explore opportunities beyond their familiar surroundings.”
Anil Mohanty, senior HR leade
Mohanty observes, “It’s not solely about loyalty or fear; it’s a blend of both. Loyalty to the employers tends to prevail only as long as one sees opportunities coming from them. Once these opportunities appear no longer available, one is compelled to explore alternatives.”
Sharing one of his professional experiences, he says how comfortable and at ease he was in his job until something changed one day, making him wonder about the future. He had been anticipating a specific role, but when it didn’t materialise within the organisation, he decided to seek it elsewhere. “There are individuals who are content with their roles and don’t aspire to progress beyond a certain level. They find satisfaction in their monthly pay cheque and the work they do. I, on the other hand, have moved across various organisations and have had a different experience and growth trajectory. While I gained responsibilities, titles, positions and salaries, stability was often elusive,” he admits.
Another important aspect while deciding between the two is how the different generations approach these concepts, often driven by their unique priorities.
“Both the concepts, loyalty and the fear of the unknown, coexist within the organisation, catering to the diverse motivations and career paths of employees.”
Deepti Mehta, CHRO, Interface Microsystems
Older generations such as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers often prefer staying on for long with one organisation where they’re most comfortable. Furthermore, as people age and progress in their careers, their employability may decrease. “In senior roles, opportunities become scarcer and flexibility diminishes. As a result, many individuals tend to settle into their roles beyond the age of 34 or 40, recognising that they may not easily transition elsewhere,” opines Mohanty. Therefore, the fear of the unknown is more relevant to them as they accept that beyond a particular point, further advancement may be improbable.
On the other hand, the current generation doesn’t seem to be fearful at all. “Millennials and Gen Z prioritise career growth, personal development and work-life balance. They are more willing to explore new opportunities if they believe it will benefit their long-term career prospects. They’re not particularly concerned about traditional relationships with employers; it’s a limited consideration for them,” points out Purohit.
“Both the concepts, loyalty and the fear of the unknown, coexist within the organisation, catering to the diverse motivations and career paths of employees,” believes Mehta. She rightly observes that employees who begin their careers with a particular organisation tend to commit to it for the long term. This commitment is acknowledged and rewarded by the company as well. However, there are individuals or newcomers, who join with the intention of acquiring niche expertise to enhance their market value. These individuals operate with the fear of missing out on better opportunities if they do not continuously develop their skills.
However, in today’s context, being contented in one’s comfort zone is a luxury one can no longer afford. Survival over an extended period is simply not feasible in the current environment as it’s entirely performance driven. It revolves around achieving results, so remaining complacent in a comfort zone is simply not an option.