Opinion

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The seven-year (business) itch

3 Mins

Listening to a documentary last night, I heard the theory being propounded that RBS – the bank that ran out of money – should have let its senior executives go after seven years of services. Beyond that point, managers become stale and useless.

This is not a new theory. I know of many companies that enforce long sabbaticals for their senior officers after a certain length of service. And they swear by the success of it. 

It sounds like a highly attractive proposition to me. 

After seven years, both sides of the employment contract are undoubtedly suffering from the proverbial itch. 

1. Does the employer/employee see each other as attractive anymore? Almost certainly not. The good points each tried so hard to show in the early years have long since become obliterated.

2. Have both parties let themselves go? Almost certainly. The need to make an effort has gone.

3. Do they take each other for granted? Without doubt. Long-term jobs are considered pretty secure even in this day and age; staff assume they’re indispensable. 

4. Has the novelty worn off? Definitely. It is highly unlikely that either side is bringing anything new to a repetitive relationship after seven years.

5. Have each other’s individual idiosyncrasies become irritating habits? Yes. And with today’s HR constraints, these can’t be vocalised. Familiarity has almost certainly bred contempt.

6. Does another employee or prospective employer appear a considerably more attractive proposition? Undeniably. They are going to be exciting and offer several of the things missing in the current relationship, including fresh, new ideas.

7. Is the grass appearing greener both in terms of quality of life and financial rewards? Categorically yes. 

By definition, the seven-year itch is a period where people tend to re-evaluate relationships. Many end. The signs of deterioration have been there but everyone has been too busy to notice or act on them. 

However, it is not always possible for the business owner to pack off their staff on exotic sabbaticals. 

I wonder if all of them – or indeed their families – would appreciate it? 

On the other side of the coin, most business owners (especially in today’s recession) are too weighed down by legalities, mortgages and responsibilities to throw caution to the wind, jet off to foreign climes and leave someone else holding the baby.

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