The days of working for a single employer for your entire career and leaving with a gold watch are long gone. Today, the average employee stays at a job for approximately four years – a relative flash in the pan during a forty to sixty year career. As a result, the modern employer-employee relationship means something different than it did in our parents’ generation. Today, too often, the relationship seems expendable.
At the same time, the competition for new jobs is fierce – on average, there are 250 applicants per each corporate job opening. So, what happens when the employment relationship has run its course? Sometimes, employees are caught unaware that anything was wrong, and are left high and dry when the employer ends the relationship. They haven’t properly networked, may be barred by restrictive covenants from pursuing other opportunities, and are up against hundreds of better-prepared applicants for the few jobs that may be available.
It is now more important than ever that employees be proactive when things are going south at work. Employees need to recognize the signs that there may be problems, and take appropriate action to place themselves in a favorable position to move forward seamlessly with their careers.
Typical red flags for employees that their jobs may be in jeopardy include:
- The tone of the employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor changes.
- The employee has a new boss or there is a change of administration, and they are looking to change things up.
- The employee perceives that he or she is being subjected to unwarranted discipline and/or increased scrutiny at work.
- Job eliminations are taking place in the company.
- The employee “senses” that the company is trying to get rid of him or her.
When these red flags appear, it is time to consult with an employment attorney. Employees are far better off getting advice before the other shoe drops, as opposed to waiting until a termination has taken place and then dealing with the ramifications while unemployed and without income. It may be possible, with the assistance of an attorney, to reduce or eliminate restrictions on the employee’s ability to work under a restrictive covenant. In most cases, an attorney can help the employee understand his or her levers for working with the employer to either preserve his or her job, or develop a strategy for a smooth landing from the current job situation. In all cases, it’s important for employees to continually focus on networking and professional development, and to keep options option in anticipation of the worst case scenario.
While job security may be challenging to achieve, forward planning can help make an employee’s career path more stable and rewarding.