Should I stay or should I go now? If I go, there will be trouble. And if I stay it will be double.
—The Clash, 1982
If you’ve ever walked into work and wondered, “Should I stay or should I go now?,” this quick read is for you! Clearly Joe Strummer and Mick Jones didn’t write this punk song for employees on the engagement fence, but the sentiment still applies. It’s impossible to dive fully into your role, responsibilities and relationships in the workplace if you’re always wondering if it’s time to roll up your sleeves or cut ties. You can’t predict the outcome if you stay or go, but don’t let that paralyze you vocationally.
Gallup tracked employee engagement regularly starting in 2014. They wanted to know how many people are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” Generally speaking, the statistics hover between 30-35%. Honestly, this is horrible news! Imagine how angry you’d be if the 10-slice pizza you ordered was missing 7 pieces when it arrived. Organizations need way more people onboard and engaged. Too much is at stake for organizations, and people spend too much time at work, for so many to be quasi-engaged or disengaged altogether.
It turns out you can keep engagement from hovering in the mid-30s percentile. Don’t just ask yourself, “Should I stay or should I go now?” Take the risk; answer the question.
Here are 17 risky reasons to stay or go—each can help you decide to buckle-in or bail. There’s no right or wrong answer, but living on the engagement fence isn’t healthy for you or your organization over the long haul.
1. It’s just a season.
Can you live with the current pace, level of resource, style of support, or way of interacting as the “new normal” where you work?
2. My new boss deserves a chance.
What will determine, and how quickly can you know, if you’re compatible with your new supervisor’s leadership style, personality, and expectations?
3. This could be the year.
It took the Chicago Cubs 108 years to win another World Series. Is there really hope for your organization or are you trying wishful thinking as a strategy?
4. It’s not about me.
How well are you treated with dignity and respect by leadership and colleagues? The organization doesn’t revolve around you, but you’re not a doormat!
5. They promised me a promotion.
How can you find out if the organization will make good on their intentions in an honorable timeline?
6. I’ve been here forever.
Seniority doesn’t equal stability anymore. Are you simply staying out of loyalty or banking on longevity?
7. What else would I do?
When is the last time you inventoried your vocational interests, skills, and experiences? This can help you determine what to start, stop, or stay doing today.
8. At least I’m not in that department.
Am I sticking around because the grass is greener in my immediate area of influence while I’m watching it die across the organizational landscape?
9. This is the last reorganization.
No it’s not.
10. Retirement’s a-coming.
How satisfied am I with status quo or kicking back until I ride off into the sunset?
11. The pay and benefits are good.
Presuming your compensation is comparable across the industry, is this enough to be the deciding factor for you?
12. I’m learning a ton.
Employees value development. How intentional is your growth track or is it by default because you’re constantly shifted around or stretched thin?
13. They give me lots of freedom.
Would you say you’re given autonomy with your responsibilities or are you sidelined, even ignored, in your role?
14. I love my team.
Having friends and comradery in the workplace is invaluable, especially for limiting staff turnover. Imagine your team dissolved tomorrow, would you stay or go?
15. Our mission is worth the sacrifice.
How is your investment in the organization filling your tank or draining your spirit?
16. My leaders are good-hearted.
How confident are you that leadership is growing in character and competence or are they just a nice group of people in charge?
17. God called me here.
There’s a fine line between fulfilling a calling and over-spiritualizing a position. What indicators will affirm whether the Lord is telling you to stay put or your time’s up?
The Bible’s full of truth and practical wisdom. Colossians 3:23 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” That word “willingly” is uber-important. No one can make the vocational decision for you if you should stay or go—that’s your call. The 17 risky reasons won’t tell you what to do either, but they might spark reflection and discussion so you can reengage in your work and workplace, whether in your current organization or somewhere else.