Invest in Your Tribe

John Goodell

WE’VE ALL SEEN the headlines: The tight U.S. labor market has prompted many businesses to increase starting salaries and offer hiring bonuses to new employees. But what about pay increases and bonuses for the workers who stick around, rather than jumping from one job to the next?

Like the employers who neglect loyal workers, many of us make the same mistake as we balance work and family. I’m certainly guilty. Every time I work late or take on a “side hustle,” there’s a tradeoff—less time with my family.

In May, I took on a particularly stressful legal case. After my primary job with the government ended each day, I had to put in countless additional hours. Even when I wasn’t actively working on the case during evenings and weekends, I was thinking about it and not “present in the moment” for events like family dinners. The case paid well. But it was a month when I saw relatively little of my kids—one I’ll never get back. In retrospect, the tradeoff wasn’t worth it.

Why do we prioritize work at the expense of family? Frankly, I believe it boils down to taking what we have for granted. Not unlike employers who offer pay increases and bonuses to the employees they don’t have rather than to those they do, we wrongly assume our spouse and kids will always be there for us.

But the kids will grow up, while our spouse may tire of not being the priority. The former will eventually leave home and so might the latter. Employers aren’t the only ones who’d be well-advised to invest in those who are already part of their tribe.

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