If you’re reading this, you might be considering changing jobs. You’re not alone.
This past year has changed everything for workplaces. The shift to remote work and blurred lines between work and home life have people feeling burned out, ready to get out of the home, and eager for adventure. According to the media, we’re on the verge of the “turnover tsunami” of 2021. Sounds melodramatic, but we’re all familiar with the numbers at this point: 52 percent of U.S. workers are considering a job change this year, and 44 percent have actual plans in place to jump ship, according to a Harris Poll.
This is a real issue for advertising. Our industry already has a rep for higher-than-average turnover. People leaving at an accelerated rate hurts our business to its core. It dilutes the quality of our work and hurts our business relationships with clients. Importantly, it can equate to missed opportunities for our talent.
If you’re feeling the itch to jump ship, I urge you to consider this first: What if you didn’t change your industry or agency, but rather, changed your job?
As someone who has worked at the same agency for 18 years, I’m personally and professionally passionate about this topic. I realize that type of tenure is not the norm, and I’m not sure I anticipated that it would be my path. I’m not insisting it should be yours, either. I’m simply making the case for the discussion we’re not hearing as much about. We live in a world of same-day delivery and instant gratification. When under pressure or stressed out, we tend to look for immediate gains or disruptive shortcuts. Instead, try thinking of the big picture. Unless something unexpected happens, you’re looking at anywhere from a 30- to 50-year career. This can be overwhelming to think about, but it’s also quite liberating.
Over the years, I have come to understand that your career is a long game. Playing the long game means taking the intentional steps now to set yourself up for long-term success. It also means not sacrificing long-term gains for short-term wins. Think of your career as a pyramid. Over time, you get closer and closer to that thing you might call your ultimate purpose. With every step, you’re gathering useful data to help you make informed decisions and figure out what’s most fulfilling to you. Even after the pandemic year, remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Companies are like sports teams. They have building years and winning years
A lot of people want to play for winning teams, the ones riding high and getting all the glory. But like sports franchises, companies may go through building years and winning years. In the long game of careers, it’s how you work through the low points that defines you. Because that’s likely when you grow and learn the most—that’s when you have your best opportunity to develop new skills, and there may be even more need within your organization for your talents or solutions. Those years require persistence, conviction, and blood, sweat and tears. They make leaders and they make teams.
When to consider staying at a company: If you trust your leadership, enjoy the culture, are learning, and believe in the work, you may want to consider staying and growing there. Finding a workplace that values you and fuels your creative or entrepreneurial spirit is what truly matters. From there, the wins will come.
How to make a fresh start within the same company
Changing your job doesn’t have to mean changing companies. There’s always the perception that “better” is out there, but “better” can sometimes be closer than we realize. There are a host of ways to mix things up and start fresh. Transferring teams, roles on a team, across business units is a common one. These may seem like tough conversations to have. But if your company values you and vice versa, it will likely open up healthy and constructive communication about what’s working, what’s not, and what changes need to be made. Where I work at Deutsch LA, over half of our agency has reinvented their job at the agency during their tenure. That could mean shifting from the production to the strategy group, or from the retail to the health sector. If you approach your role through the lens of learning and growth, there is often an opportunity to be found within your company to accomplish it.
How to find unexpected fulfillment
I get asked fairly frequently why I’ve chosen to stay at Deutsch LA. And my answer is always the same—there is not another job on the planet about which I could care in the same way. The secret to job satisfaction lies in finding something you truly care about. When you enter our offices, you see a huge sign that says “Care the Most.” That’s our driving value—to care about each other, our clients, and our work. While I find the work I do very satisfying, it is the commitments I’ve made to my team and our partners that unlock something more, something deeper and intangible. There is simply nothing more satisfying than going into battle with a team and coming out on the other side, whether it’s launching a new campaign or winning a competitive pitch. In our community, I’ve seen people grow from interns to department leaders, I’ve watched friendships built, marriages created, and babies born. On Valentine’s Day, we play a game called “Cube Connection” which playfully quizzes partners on how well they know one another—rom their deepest fears to their UberEats orders. It’s remarkable how intimate our work relationships can become when we are a part of a culture of united, like-minded humans. Find a culture you care about, and you may be surprised how fulfilling your job will become.