It is believed that rats can sense trouble on a sinking ship. When they sense this kind of trouble they leave that area. It is not that they have extra-sensory power; it’s just that they have a greater awareness of the dangers involved.

Since they live in the deepest and lowest part of the ship where the ship’s personnel may not even be able to go, they are the first to realize when water seeps in. They raise a hue and cry and other rats on the ship join them in jumping off the ship at the earliest. By the time, the people become aware of the sinking, the rats have already started jumping off.

Those who abandon what is likely to fail

So when people talk of others leaving a sinking ship in times of problems, it refers to people who abandon what is failing or is likely to fail. They only think of themselves and are quick to bail out so that they don’t get caught in the aftermath of the failure. This is what happens even among people. When faced with a crisis, many people turn their back on the difficulties without offering to help those who are trapped in such difficult situations.

Employees leave their jobs for various reasons – low pay, long working hours, location, lack of involvement but if they have a good boss who they can trust and have respect for, they will stay with the job even in times of a crisis or even if the business closes down. It is said that a good leader can inspire confidence in his employees and encourage them to stay on and help the company tide over its bad days.

Wisest to close down the business

There are times when it is wisest to actually close down the business. In such cases, the leaders of such organizations will themselves advice their employees to quit and look for better options. They support their people even when they are facing the most difficult moments of their life.

People behave like rats abandoning a sinking ship only when they have no loyalty towards the organization or towards the boss. They see the boss as someone who is not interested in their welfare and so they are not willing to try and do something to save the business. They prefer to get out and try their luck somewhere else because they know the boss / organization will not look after them.

Extreme difficulties

When organizations have caring leaders who put the interests of their employees above that of their own, then even in times of extreme difficulties, these employees will pull out all the stops and work hand-in-hand with the leaders to save the business.

If the boss unduly overworks his people, does not pay them sufficient compensation,  does not recognize their contribution to the business, does not make an effort to help them develop their skills and talents, gives them responsibilities that fail to engage them intellectually, then he can be prepared to have his people desert him in times of need. If he wants to retain his people, he needs to nurture them and they will stick with him under all circumstances.