I worked 6-month contracts for nearly 16 years. With one exception, I always stayed for more than 2 years, with the longest being close to 8.
What made me stay...
- Not the money. It was adequate, but I could have earned more (and sometimes now wish I had) by changing more frequently.
- Not the benefits package. The salary was it. Above that, I was lucky if I was allowed to use the company bar or parking facilities.
- Not the people. There were exceptions, but mostly --regardless of whether i was employed as an independent contractor, external consultant or latterly, on a "No hours, semi-permanent" basis, the 'permies' treated 'contractors' as 'fly-by-nght' cowboys, even when I had been in-situ longer than anyone else on the project!
- Not the company car, health plan or pension. If I didn't save it, I ain't entitled to it.
In two words -- Job satisfaction. Of course, that covers a lot of things.
- Doing something that I enjoy, perceive as valuable, and am given enough responsibility to sate my desire to be 'in control', and the authority commensurate with that.
- Recognition. And I don't mean employee of the month schemes, or little plaques or paper weights. Nor even more money, though that's nice. too. A simple, "Good work" or "Thanks for your diligence" is way more important to me personally than anything else.
If you perceive no difference between doing an OK job and putting in the extra effort to do a good one, you'll slip unconsciously into doing 'just enough', or worse.
Given (genuine) acknowledgement for a job well done elicits extra effort next time. Most people have an innate preference for the carrot than the stick. (When their on the receiving end anyway:)
- Having ones opinion considered, and at least be given an explanation -- even if it's only "I short-listed A and B, little to choose between them, but a decision had to be made, so I decided upon B" -- for why one's professional opinion is overridden.
Management doesn't owe subordinates an explanation, especially to 'externals', but in my small bouts of "managerial responsibility" -- I resisted anything more. I like coding -- I found that 5 minutes spent explaining my decisions went an awful long way to keeping people on-side and interested.
- A broad scope of work with the ability to work in areas outside of my 'CV skill set'. I was very lucky, or perhaps chose wisely, in this regard. The one time I served minimum time was when I was recruited on the basis of my C-skills as one of a mass recruitment and when things shook out, found myself doing maintenance work on a COBOL code base!? It was an interesting diversion for a while, and I actually learned quite a lot, but minimum term was enough thank you:)
- A lack of Corporate bull***t. 90% of meetings, especially 'cascades', 'scheduled team meetings' and 'team building exercises' are (IMnsHO) a complete and utter waste of (my) time.
20+ people sitting around in a meeting room for an hour listening to stuff being read out that they could more easily comprehend in 10 minutes of reading an e-mail, memo or even something stuck on a notice board is pointless. Even when you move into the feedback phase, 19+ people listening to (the!) one person who feels the need to question at length is pointless.
Pre-existing material should be distributed and digested before meetings commence. Reading the minutes of the previous meeting (only really necessary where legal action could result!) can more effectively be done off-meeting time if at all. Meetings are for interaction and cross-fertilisation. The meeting ends when no new ideas are forthcoming. An uninvolved person (secretary, project controller) attends and takes notes. These are typed up and distributed for sign-off. Management make their decisions off-meeting. Meetings are held when interaction is necessary, not because the room is booked!
External status precluded or excused me from too much of the bad sort of meeting... thankfully.
In summary, I stayed because I was doing something I enjoy, that I felt was valuable, that I had some measure of influence over, and that didn't involve too much crap. Beyond the inescapable needs of keeping the bailiff from the door, food on the table etc, you spend about a quarter of your life on average working.
Making sure that you are interested in and get a sense of satisfaction from that time is far more important that financial reward -- once the basicas are taken care of.
I chose my jobs as, if nor more carefully, than they chose me.
Examine what is said, not who speaks.
"Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." -Richard Buckminster Fuller
If I understand your problem, I can solve it! Of course, the same can be said for you.