The art of long-term loyalty
By Sarah Sturgess
13th September 1999 was my first day at SMRS. I joined at the age of 26. Twenty years on, I’m still happily here.
With so much generational research announcing that people don’t expect to stay in one place anymore, I thought I’d reflect on what’s kept me here. I’ve pondered both my personal motivations, and the opportunities and support that SMRS has given me. This is because, for me, lasting loyalty is a two-way thing. It’s about what a person gives a business, and what the business gives back in return.
Here are a few of my thoughts.
Choose a job that you love. There are so many roles out there and you could be happy in many. I was lucky to find that an industry, which I never knew existed, could be such a perfect fit for me. It shows that it pays to keep an open mind and not rule things out without taking a closer look. If you get the Sunday night blues, life is too short to be unhappy for long, so get searching for something different.
Do your best every day. Doing your job well is the key to job satisfaction. For me, it’s led to positive feedback and feeling appreciated, which really helps. So, give a damn and give it your all. And if you’re an employer, make sure you’re creating an environment that allows and encourages your people to use their strengths to be the best they can be.
Make the business what you need it to be. I genuinely believe that every person can influence the culture of their organisation. Little things all add up to create big change. At SMRS, we’ve always tried to address things that aren’t right – and we continue to involve our people in the progress we make. It really pays off.
Remember that work isn’t everything. I’ll be honest – I haven’t always been great at this. But the leaders I’ve had, and importantly, my family, have helped me find a way to strike a better balance. Working in a culture that recognises that people have lives, and that supports them through big life events, can make a world of difference. It certainly has for me.
Jobs evolve. Go with it. This one’s a very personal one for me, because I can’t even remember how many times my job at SMRS has changed over the last 20 years. The key is to always stay aware of where you can go next. And when you’ve got there, look ahead again, and again.
Enrich yourself and others. I’ve definitely changed for the better over the years here, and this hasn’t been because I went on a couple of training courses. I’ve always taken feedback onboard – even the tough bits – and I’ve grown as a result. An open and honest culture that invests in and supports people’s growth can be a very positive force. It spreads, too. I’ve had an amazing coach here during the last five years, and I hope to take everything I’ve learnt into SMRS, to develop a coaching culture of our own.
So, these are my thoughts. Will they help you build a two-decade career you love? Will they help you create an environment where your people want to stay for ages? I hope so. And if you’d like a chat about any of this, I’ll be right here.