April 23, 2019

The seven year itch – Does it exist?

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average employment in a company lasts 4.6 years (3.2 years in services businesses). Most people never get to experience the seven-year itch and decide for themselves if it truly exists. On the contrary, the average length of a marriage in the UK is 11 years and has never dropped below 8.5 years since records began.

Having joined TritonExec in April 2012, my seven-year anniversary has come and gone. The ‘seven-year itch’ is the idea that long-term relationships slump around the seven-year mark. We spend infinitely more time at work than we do at home so surely, we should consider the seven-year itch and how it applies in the workplace too?

Before joining TritonExec, I spent nearly seven years in my previous firm. The first four years of which I was led, challenged, regularly promoted and developed deep-rooted loyalty to the leaders that provided me so many opportunities. I made the decision to leave, not because of an arbitrary time period but because the leadership, values, and opportunities were no longer exciting, challenging or rewarding.

As a Partner in a global executive search firm, I am lucky enough to advise executives, both employers and employees on this topic regularly. In addition, having been happily married for the last nine years, there are three key practices that I believe harness and foster successful long-term relationships.

Communicate Often:

How do you feel and why do you feel that way? Take the time to reflect and seek out feedback from your employer and employees. When you don’t communicate, you create stories in your head that are driven by fear rather than fact. Employers and employees should be on the same team. Each of you should feel supported, understood, and confident to share and push each other to drive value and positive outcomes.

Never Stop Learning:

Seek out new experiences that challenge you. Everyday should present a new learning opportunity. Mundane, repetitive, everyday tasks only help heighten the perception that there is something better out there for us. The grass isn’t always greener, though it certainly can be.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others:

Be the best possible version of yourself. You will never be happy if you are constantly comparing yourself to others. Sometimes being third best in a high performing team is better than being number one in an average team. In the words of the great motivational speaker Eric Thomas, “The person in the mirror is your only competition.”

From my own professional experience, the real triggers are leadership, communication, trust, opportunities to learn and challenge yourself, and working with high quality people – not time.

Does the seven-year itch exist? I don’t believe so…

Could you replace the ‘seven’ with any time period and get the itch? Without question.