The Loyalty Conundrum: Balancing Stability and Personal Growth


As much as HR managers frown upon job hoppers, they will also frown upon job clingers. Job clingers are those who stay in the organisation for over 5 years without seeing progression in job title, skills and responsibilities. Job clingers see it as loyalty, HR managers see it as laziness and a lack of commitment to personal growth.


Why people shouldn’t cling to their jobs?

Job clingers are sending signals to their employers that they are happy in their current position. There is little incentive for employers to move them up the ladder or giving them a pay rise. Studies show that people staying in the same company for over 2 years on average earn 50% less. Over time, their worth will be overshadowed by new talents who show signs of career ambition.


It is totally understandable that you feel comfortable and don’t want to move on. Your comfort zone, however, could quickly turn from a sanctuary to a prison —when you find yourself stuck in there and unable to get out. The optimal time for someone to stay in the same company is around 5 years. After that, the longer you stayed, the lower your chance of getting hired.


The human nature that makes us ‘cling’

We prefer something we are familiar with. It is our human nature to maintain homeostasis (a.k.a. status quo), a mechanism that regulates our bodily reactions to changes. Our body try to resist changes so to not disturb the equilibrium.


Gradually, we develop thought patterns and habits that reinforce our existing beliefs and behaviors. In the context of a job that no longer serves personal growth, inertia leads us to rationalise our loyalty and convince ourselves that staying put is the right choice.


4 actionable steps to break free from loyalty conundrum

Escaping the loyalty conundrum requires courage, self-awareness, and a commitment to personal growth.


  1. Developing an awareness

Start by keeping a journal to record your thoughts, feelings and observations about your current job.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • ‘Am I genuinely satisfied with my current role?’
  • ‘Do I feel challenged or motivated?’
  • ‘What are my long-term career goals and how does my current situation align with them?’

Journaling will help you gain clarity and identify if you are in a place that supports your personal growth.  


  1. Set clear goals and chart progress

Create a career blueprint for yourself. Break down your long-term goals into smaller manageable milestones. For example:

  • ‘Within the next three months, I will complete a relevant online course to learn a new skill.’
  • ‘By the end of this year, I will have explored three different projects within my current role.’

Regularly revisit your goals and update them as needed. Track your progress and celebrate every achievement, big and small.


  1. Take small steps

Identify opportunities for growth in your current job. Seek out tasks or projects that challenge you and align with your career goals. Consider discussing your aspirations with your managers and express your interest in taking on new responsibilities. Be proactive in volunteering for projects that stretch your skills and knowledge.


  1. Hack habits for growth

Habit is a double-edge weapon.  Just as habitual thinking could keep us in our comfort zone, consciously developing new habits that favours personal growth can create mental shortcuts to break away from inertia.


Specific habits that support personal growth include:

  • Early morning routine: Set an alarm 30 minutes earlier each day to create time for self-improvement activities. Use this time to learn, read, meditate, exercise, or plan your day.
  • Continuous learning: dedicate time each day or week to acquire new skills or professional knowledge. Sign up online courses, attend webinars, or join a support group. Making use of your commute time to go through online course materials.
  • Skill development: Choose a skill that you want to develop, be it coding, public speaking or new language, and practice it every day.
  • Networking: develop a habit of networking by reaching out to professionals in your field. For example, set a goal to connect with 1 industry peer every week on LinkedIn.


Remember that loyalty to oneself and one's aspirations should always take precedence, even if it means stepping out of the comfort zone. In the end, it is through change and growth that we truly flourish in both our personal and professional lives.


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