I'm worried I'm being sidelined at work. Is it time to find another job?
- This edition of Insider's work-advice column is about a Gen Zer who believes she's being sidelined.
- While the situation is disconcerting, experts say it could actually be a good thing for her career.
I'm a Gen Z employee at a large company and I am a little over a year into my first full-time, professional job after college. I'm passionate about my work and love my colleagues. Recently, however, I've felt like my company has stopped prioritizing my team — which is both unnerving and frustrating. We have less say in the assignments we work on; we're given little opportunity to take on larger projects; and we've also had a number of managerial staffing changes.
Over the past few months, two members of my team have left the company and they're not being replaced. We're now short-handed, which means that my remaining colleagues and I only have time to complete the team's most essential tasks. This leaves us unable to work on the projects we most enjoy and has drained morale.
Part of me thinks this is a sign I should start looking for a new job. In the current market, I feel like my team could be on the chopping block if my company conducts lay-offs.
On the other hand, because I love my team and the work I do, I want to stay and try to make it better. I know the team and I have great potential, and if given even half the resources we had before these changes, we could surpass expectations.
Since I know that my team and I are less of a priority for my company, what should I do?
Your distress is evident, and you're not alone. It's an anxious time for the workforce: As a potential recession looms, the economy is facing more than the usual uncertainty, and suffice it to say, many people are worried about their job security. Gen Zers, in particular, are on edge. Recent surveys suggest this group of workers — who were born in the late 1990s and early 2000s — is feeling disconnected and anxious about their careers.
This might be an instance where youth does not trump experience, however. The fact is, you're just starting out and you don't have a frame of reference for how economic cycles affect organizations and their workers. This is not to dismiss you because you haven't been around the block, but only to point out that shifting corporate priorities are normal in the life of an organization. Customer tastes change, executives come and go, and strategies adjust accordingly.
Organizations are especially apt to shift priorities when the economy sours. It's not always fun to live through as an employee — and it can be downright disconcerting — but you get used to it as you progress in your career and you live through more downturns. At the risk of sounding like a patronizing old Gen Xer, you develop an "Oh, this again," mentality.
Because you like your job and you're inclined to stay, allow me to offer you some very non-Gen X advice: Try looking on the bright side of the situation.
Yes, your colleagues have quit and have not been replaced, but that could mean that your company won't have to reduce the headcount by firing people later on. True, your team's best assignments have been taken away, but that could motivate you to get involved in different parts of your organization and offer assistance on other projects. And yes, morale is currently low — but you also say that the team "has great potential," and that you "love your colleagues," which is important and bodes well for your future job satisfaction.
Put simply: This situation might be good for your career. "Consider it as an opportunity for you to prove yourself, demonstrate your fortitude, and establish your brand," Jennifer Moss, an author and workplace strategist who consults for large organizations on HR issues, said. "Then, once the company is back in growth mode, you'll be more senior" — and in a prime position to take on a bigger, higher-profile role.
On the other hand, though, it never hurts to start passively looking for a new job while you remain employed. "You should always put your career development first — especially when you're young," Dan Schawbel, the author of "Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success" and a managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, a research-and-advisory firm, said. "If you feel your company is not investing in you, see what else is out there."
This is especially true as the social cost of switching jobs has dipped and job-hopping loses its stigma.
Here's a TL;DR version: Stay put, keep working hard, but make an extra effort to build new connections in other parts of your organization. Raise your visibility and expand your professional network. And in the meantime, keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities. You're going to navigate a lot of challenges like this one throughout your professional life. Adaptability is vital.
This story originally published on September 14, 2022.
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