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Getting past feeling like you're betraying your employer?

Hi all,

I'm a long-time lurker of this board, hoping to get some sort of advice/reassurance on something that's been bothering me.

Background: I love the company that I work for, and I love my job. I love the majority of the people that I work with. I LOVE my bosses, personally and professionally -- it is a family-owned organization (not my family, but they have treated me as such) and they are amazing people and have been really great to me in the handful of years that I've been there. For a long time I imagined myself having a nice long future with this company.

Here's where it gets icky: the organization is not doing well financially. It has been on a slow decline over the last year and a half or so, and it has become painfully apparent that the finances are now in a very deep rut that the company may not survive. Management is doing everything that it can to turn things around and remedy what has gone wrong, but (naturally) the state of things has me very on edge and worried about my own financial future. I don't know if there are 2 months left, 2 years left, or if they might be able to pull off a 180 and get back on track.

To the present:  For about a month or so I have been very passively "looking for a job" - being very selective in what I submit a resume to and only applying if I really feel like I could see myself in that open position. Today I was contacted by two of the jobs that I had applied for, both wanting me to come in for interviews this week. It made me sick to my stomach (which I know is completely irrational). During the process of applying for jobs, and certainly when emailing these companies back today, I felt like I was personally and professionally betraying my current employers. My current organization is in what feels like its 11th hour now, and my job is an individual contributor position where I have a LOT of specialized knowledge that no one else in our organization has. If I were to leave, there would be a lot of holes that would be difficult to plug up, even if I trained a replacement to the best of my abilities. 

I know that I need to do what is best for myself and my husband, and I don't WANT to go down with the ship, but I cannot get past the idea that by seeking out something else, I am being disloyal to the company and my employers // kicking them when they are already down. They have been nothing but good to me in my time there, and I really just feel like a terrible person for trying to go elsewhere.

I realize that I probably just talked in a circle, but has anyone been in a similar situation? Would love to hear any advice/personal experiences/etc. that anyone is willing to offer up :)

Re: Getting past feeling like you're betraying your employer?

  • ab6704aab6704a member
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited September 2014
    Well you commented on my post from earlier today so you know I've been looking as well and have an interview tomorrow. I'm not really happy with my job now, mostly because of upper management, but I love working for my boss and a few of the program managers I support and I feel horrible whenever I think about potentially telling them I'm leaving. My DH keeps telling me to not feel guilty for going on an interview and it's good advice. There is nothing wrong with interviewing and it's good practice in the event your company does close it's doors.

    If you get a job offer then you really have to examine how you feel about leaving. Do you stick it out or take a good opportunity to move on? I have the kind of relationship with my boss where I've been able to talk to him about a lot of my reservations about staying with the company. He's acknowledged that if the right opportunity comes along that it's important to take it. I don't know what your position is or your relationship with the owners is like so I don't know if a frank conversation is feasible for you, but hopefully the people you work for are understanding if you do decide to pursue a new opportunity.

    Even if they are understanding though it's going to suck leaving and you're probably going to feel guilty anyways. I'm not sure there's much you can do not to :(

    Edited to finish my comment...
  • I felt like this when I got my new job. I'd worked for my previous employer for almost 6 years, starting almost right out of school. They felt like family, but it was a dysfunctional family. I was finding that all too often comments were made about needing to "find money" for payroll etc. and it made me really uncomfortable. Then I went back after my maternity leave and found there was a lot of arguing going on within the office, and despite honestly feeling like I loved these people the environment (a semi failing business) was a bad one to be in and I needed to protect myself.

    I bawled like a baby when I told my boss I quit. Then my other boss decided to pick that day to yell at me about stuff that was not my problem (issues between the two bosses...part of the failing business I was talking about) and I had the pleasure of telling him I was quitting.
  • When it comes down to it, it is a business.  I know it is hard to look at it that way, but it is.  We are with a company for a finite number of days while it is mutually beneficial.  If they are going down, there is no sense in risking your livelihood.

    And, from the HR standpoint, an interview is just one step in the process of actually being offered the job.  Don't turn down an opportunity!  Good luck!

    Be the change you want to see in the world!

  • I appreciate all the feedback! It's nice to hear others confirming what I've been thinking. 

    I had one of the interviews this morning and it went well. Still very anxious about the whole situation and what might occur if I were to receive an offer, but I'm going to try and not think about crossing that bridge til I come to it :)
  • As hard as it may be, you def have to put you and your family first.  Don't pass on the interviews because of fear, and like you said cross the bridge when you get to it if you get an offer.  Who knows, an offer may make your decision that much easier!  

    If your company and those running it are as good as they sound, if you do decide to leave i have no doubt they will wish you well and understand the decision you had to make.
  • I'm in a similar position, my pay has even been cut "temporarily" which is very frustrating.  My company is allowing me to train in a newish field (taking on more HR duties) and paying for my school to get my PHR certification, but if they don't put my salary back in place in the next few weeks I'm going to need to look elsewhere.  I've been here for six years and I love the job and the people, but we want to start a family next year and I can't afford to on my current salary.  My main loyalty is to my husband and future child long before my boss.

     I know the stress you're under though, it feels like when I broke up with my high school sweetheart to move to another city.  It hurts, but its for the best!
  • It is a tough decision. I was in a similar position a little bit ago. I told my employer that I was going back to school and could only do part-time. They couldn't keep me on until about 1 week before I left and then asked if I wanted to stay part-time. There are a lot of issues going on in the organization and some financial problems, but I liked the work I did and LOVED my co-workers. I cried when I left and second guessed myself, but I am very happy with my decision to leave.

    Long story short, I always think it's better to leave when you may not want to than trying to leave when things aren't going well. Always better to have too many options than not enough! :) If you do leave, you'll have a great experience to look back on and excellent references and an opportunity to grow in a different job. 
  • I totally know what you mean. If they love you and are as family-oriented as you're describing, I think they'll be thrilled for you personally, even though they may take a hit business-wise. You gotta do what's best for you and your family, whatever that may be.
  • geeeez! this sounds EXACTLY like me!  i have only been working at my current job since April and when I got hired I told them that this part time was exactly what i was looking for.  and it was at the time.  but my husband isn't getting paid very well and i don't have benefits and to add me on to his makes the price go SO way up that it doesn't even financially make sense.

    but i got hired on during the planning of my wedding and my bosses were so amazing. they let me have all the days off that i needed, they gave me all these presents, my boss actually found my honeymoon for me and told me i needed to go.

    i feel HORRIBLE every single time i think about moving on to a new place but my husband is like, you need to seriously find one and not feel bad for making a decision for our family.  it is so hard though.  i'm so happy that i found this board because it's really scary! i hate confrontation so much and i hate letting people down and i feel like all i'm going to be doing is letting my bosses down :(. it hurts to think about!!
  • For anyone reading this now -- my advice= MOVE ON! I wish I had moved a little quicker and with more motivation because two months after posting my original post, the company hit bankruptcy and it hit HARD. Our health insurance policies were cancelled without notice because premiums were not getting paid, our pay checks were regularly bouncing, and finally it got bad enough that we were told not to come back in "until further notice" (which, of course, never happened). Company filed for Bankruptcy about a month later, and money owed to employees is over 100k, it's sad. Long story short-- if you have a gut feeling, go with it. As much as you might love your employer or co workers or job, you have to look out for yourself and your family first. I was lucky to find another job fairly quickly (not one I love, but the pay and benefits are better, so I can't complain too much), but had I started seriously searching earlier with less doubt, I feel like I could have had something perfect lined up before "stuff hit the fan". It may feel selfish in the moment, but you're the only person who is truly looking out for your best interests.
  • Thanks for the update and I'm glad to hear you landed on your feet.  You are 100% right and I've even been on the other end of it.

    I used to work for a defense contractor and we had contracts coming to an end because a particular project was over.  It was no secret.  People were jumping ship left and right as they got new jobs.  It was a bummer, because our client still needed someone in those positions for the next 1-3 months as things shut down, but it's not like we could hire new people who were only going to be coming on very temporarily.

    But, at the end of the day, companies will make it work.  Our client split out the work to their own employees, our company lost some money because we could no longer bill the client for those labor hours (but, trust me, they could afford it).  And I, and even my boss, were extremely happy to see the employees we managed finding new jobs before they lost their positions with us...even if it meant bigger hassles and a smaller budget for us. 

    To a large extent, we should always be thinking of what is best for ourselves.  Because, trust me, there is no loyalty even from good companies when the s**t starts hitting the fan.  In my own city, there was a famous, world renowned restaurant that had been around for decades.  Some of the employees had been there for 20+ years.  Then employees went to work one day to see a sign posted on the door that the restaurant had closed down.  Not even a PHONE call from the owners or managers.  No, no.  They let people get ready for work and come all the way down, only to find a note on the door that their jobs were gone.

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