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5 Risks of Staying Too Long with the Same Employer

March 3, 2014
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I arrived in Orlando on Monday to attend this years HIMSS conference with much anticipation - as I always do. I’ve been going to this conference for decades now (only missed one year) and really enjoy the environment and energy. As I walked the exhibit hall I noticed new vendors and new technologies, but also noticed many familiar faces. That’s HIMSS greatest value for me - I get to see so many people I know or want to meet from all across the United States in a matter of two-to-three jam-packed days, and it all takes place in the same building or nearby at one of the host hotels. Talk about maximizing your travel budget!

Unfortunately, I also talked with a few candidates while I roamed the exhibit halls, many of whom have been at the same organization for almost as long as I’ve been attending HIMSS. I started to ask myself one simple question: how long is too long? If we source and place a candidate who has been in the same role for 5-7 years, that’s actually considered pretty good! But 20-22 years? I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Employers are certainly looking for stable, rock-solid candidates with a good employment record. That being said, moving around is not always a bad thing, either.

The risks you take by staying at one place too long are:

1.    You learn a single work culture: This makes it more difficult for you to adapt to other environments if you become what I refer to as “institutionalized” by staying to long with a single employer. Experiencing multiple work environments allows us to adapt much better to a new organization and culture. Something to think about.

2.    Your network is usually built around the people you work with or get to know as part of your day-to-day work environment. It becomes much more difficult to network your way into a new role with a limited set of connections. You can mitigate that risk partially through tools like LinkedIn.

3.    You are somewhat limited by the technologies you use and understand if you are only accustomed to what your organization uses daily. It’s not uncommon for me to talk to a HCIT professional who only knows McKesson products or Siemens because that’s all they’ve ever known. Again, working in multiple environments allows you to learn more about multiple technology vendors which could prove to be valuable downstream.

4.    Your management style as a leader would likely change and adapt/grow in multiple work environments with different organizational structures and under a variety of leaders. I realize that organizational changes are a regular part of life in most work environments, but exposure to more employers and leadership styles would give you much more breadth and depth as a leader.

5.    You may be much more vulnerable if a new CEO decides to bring in their team (known talent) and suddenly you find yourself on the outside looking in. Change is going to happen and you should know that the markets have changed a lot since I began attending HIMMS.

There are many options that long-term players have to available to them to help minimize their downside. The first thing you must do is take an inventory of your talent assets and risks, and determine if you’ve overstayed your visit. It’s just something to think about and be aware of.