A number of things indicate that you’ve got a job, not a career.
One is when there is a low investment in employees at your current company.
Your company expects you to produce great results. So, you do the work. You come to work on time and leave late at night. And somehow it feels like the company isn’t as invested in you as you are in them.
It’s hard to force yourself to come to work when you feel underappreciated. You’re not inclined to give your best effort because you’re in a one-way partnership with your employer.
Employee investment isn’t just about salary and benefits. It’s also about a company that doesn’t treat you like a tool in the job. Instead, where you are a valued team member that helps deliver great outcomes to clients. There are opportunities to develop and expand your professional capabilities.
There are three areas where your company should be investing in you:
Training and development
You don’t want your skills to become obsolete. You want to remain relevant in your industry. You want to develop your skills and acquire new ones. You know that having the right skills and the right attitude can help you provide more value to your clients. You can do more than find solutions for them. You will find ways to prevent problems from happening. You’ll be well equipped to handle critical client concerns. You can’t be confident to do that if you weren’t trained for it.
Forbes magazine sets out some of the vital skills that an employer should help you develop:
- Critical thinking
- Creativity and innovation.
These skills are all important to you performing your current role well and being able to level up to additional responsibilities.
Importantly, they are also critical skills for you to develop in order to be able to manage and lead others, which is part of developing a career. Leaders are not born but built. It takes time and experience and training. Coaching. Mentoring.
Healthcare and benefits
Stress and illness are hugely detrimental to productivity. Absences from illness are detrimental to you, your team and your client.
If you are worried about getting sick and how to pay for medical treatment, it’s very hard to focus on your role.
An employer-provided health care plan makes a big difference. Dependent coverage makes a big difference. Other benefits such as life insurance make a big difference.
A healthy mind allows you to come up with strategies to provide better service to your clients. A healthy body allows you to do the work. You’ll be able to continue your work, even when you need to do overtime.
Recognition and reward
Everyone likes to be told that they are doing a good job. To be recognized for outstanding performance.
In days past, the typical way to do this was things like Employee of the Month.
The problem with concepts like that is that they are saying, in effect: One person did well; everyone else failed.
Systems that recognize and reward attaining the relevant benchmarks (and yes these are KPIs) are the opposite: they recognize everyone who has achieved. In an ideal company, every single person would beat the benchmark and receive recognition.
Those systems are important for another reason. They make sure that you have transparency about where you stand. You know if you’re below, at or beyond expectations. That’s very empowering because you don’t have to wonder, am I doing a good job? If you’re just below the recognition benchmark, you can engage with your managers to work out how to hit that benchmark in the next period. If you’re exceeding the benchmark consistently, it’s marking you out as an outstanding performer and someone in whom the company should invest more.
Other things also contribute to employee engagement. It can be as simple as a team lunch, recognizing birthdays. A company showing its appreciation for you as a person and employee. Things that remind you that you’re not just seen as a cog in a wheel for your company.
Having a ‘job’ rarely engages you. It’s not meant to stimulate your creative and critical thinking. It’s just a temporary phase in your life that can either help build a career or ruin it. Be mindful of the signs of a company that’s not invested in you. Don’t waste your time staying somewhere that can’t or won’t help you get to where you want to be.