I saw a great blog post from Brent Ozar about whether or not you are being treated fairly at work. It’s the response to a question asked by Chris Shaw: Are you being treated fairly?
This blog talks about employees being replaceable and references the hospitality industry. That struck a chord with me because I worked in there for a long time as well. And I learned that I not only didn’t want to stick around, but very few people would. I thought it was a bit sad that I had a few friends in their 40s and 50s still tending bar, waiting tables, or doing some other relatively menial job. They were good at it, but it’s a hard life.
I’ve grown up a bit, and I’d retract my sympathy for them. There’s nothing wrong with that (or any other) job where you work and get paid. If you want to do it, and you’re willing to work, you earn your money the same as me.
You are replaceable. Even someone like me, who as the editor of SQLServerCentral, have built a brand that is almost indistinguishable from the site, can be let go and someone else do my job. I’m successful, people identify the site with me, it’s still growing and popular, but I know I could be replaced. It might lose some people, and there might be some short term (or long term) loss of revenue, but it could work.
At least I operate on that principle.
You have to make sure you’re providing value to your company. That’s common advice, and it’s out there. I wrote an editorial at SQLServerCentral on that recently. But the company has to be providing value to you.
In the past most people stuck with a company for a long time. Part of that was the promise of retirement, but some was cultural as well (leaving a job had some stigma) and there weren’t as many new jobs opening up. Skills were less transient between companies as many people were trained to work in that business and not as generally as I think we are now (mostly thanks to computing).
However I’m not sure many companies were fair to employees. That would be an interesting thesis for someone to write.
Today there are more jobs available. Even in this economy, you can still find a new job, though I would be more careful doing so. But the economy will turn around, and you should be positioning yourself to take advantage of that if you cannot find a job now. And if your company is not providing you with values as well.