You Work for Yourself, No One Else
My dad was so proud of the fact that he worked for the
same employer for 40+ years. He was never late, was rarely sick and sometimes
went to work despite the fact he was under the weather. He thought he was
indispensable and that his employer really valued him. To him loyalty to one
employer was huge.
He received a small pension - not even the metaphorical gold watch, or a cake and punch party - when
he retired riddled with aches and pains.
How things have changed. It is now very clear that employers
have no loyalty to employees who are typically viewed as “elements of
production” and therefore costly and replaceable.
Several years ago, the American Management
Association (AMA) conducted a survey of 6,000 participants across the United
States. The survey asked employees 2 questions:
1) Do you get enough recognition at work?
2) Would you do a better job if you got more recognition?
There was no equivocation in the answers. Over 97%
of the respondents said "no" they didn't get enough recognition at
work, and 98% replied "yes" they would do a better job if they
received more recognition. This means that employees think recognition is very
important, but that they don’t receive nearly enough from employers.
The typical employee (inside or outside of
healthcare) will have several jobs in their lifetime, sometimes even changing
professions. Laboratorians are no
exception and have come to realize that employers have no loyalty to them, and
will gladly cut an employee loose for a variety of reasons including preserving the
That does not mean that the employee-employer
relationship has to be adversarial. However it is important to realize that you
work for yourself first and foremost. In
every job you should learn as much as you can, develop new transferable skills
and keep your resume current. Consider a reasonable work-life balance.
A flexible, nimble employee is a good
employer of him or herself. To be a good self-employer, you should be open to
change, cross training, taking on new projects and practicing constant networking.
Learn as much as you can, and acquire skills that no one can take from you.
Position yourself as a valuable individual professional, not merely as an
employee of ABC Laboratory. It is easy
to get comfortable in a job, but at least once a year, update your resume with any
new skills you have acquired. Look at job ads and decide, in an ideal world, which
one would you go for. Practice writing a cover letter. List the professional colleagues
you would like to act as your professional reference if necessary.
This exercise is as much a matter of
psychology as practical preparation. If you suddenly have to make a change
(voluntary or not) you will have a leg up if you are prepared, sale-able and have
a current resume. Faced with change, you
will then have real options to make the move that is right for YOU. Your employer
will be OK and will move on without you. Trust me.