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“They are part of the furniture”
Every so often, when discussing someone’s career timeline or hiring needs, this phrase is used and I am often stumped as to what impression this gives of a person.
A definition of the phrase is: “a person or thing that has been somewhere so long as to seem a permanent, unquestioned, or invisible feature of the landscape.”
As an employer – are you looking for your staff to be unquestioned and go unnoticed?
While in the past, changing jobs is considered to be a sign of a lack of loyalty and conscientiousness. These days, staying too long at a company can also be detrimental to your career, as you’re labelled as ‘part of the furniture’. Although the phrase seems to be a compliment, as if you are a permanent fixture in the organisation, it could also suggest that someone is inactive and non-instrumental. It paints a picture of a person who sits, collects dust, unused, adding very little value and is unable to adapt to change. If you remove said furniture, say the person leaves or even retires, you’ll be left with an imprint on the floor where they once were. However, this can be easily replaced by a new piece of furniture on top, to sit and collect dust once again.
Gone are the days when people work for a company all their lives, organisations are looking for people that will make a difference and thrive – not just simply do their job. The common advice I hear is that it is probably wise to change jobs every 2 – 3 years and there are plenty of reasons to do so. A higher salary, promotion, building a stronger network and learning new skills, are among a few. But aren’t these the things that every organisation boasts they offer during interviews? Shouldn’t businesses be offering their employees these opportunities anyway, if they’re good at what they do?
There are so many reasons to want to retain staff for a long as possible:
It’s important and more profitable to keep talented and hardworking people around. I encourage employers to utilise their ‘long stayers’ and to treat their loyal employees as fabric, not furniture.
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