It’s one thing to have the office blues, but it’s a whole other story to loathe your job entirely.
According to a 2016 survey of 2,500 workers by recruitment firm Hays Canada, about one-half of Canadian employees say they’re unhappy at their current job.
But how does one know if they’re having a bad week (or month) at work, or if it’s time to move on to greener pastures?
There are ways to tell, says career counsellor Lee Weisser of professional consulting agency Careers by Design.
“I see this a lot,” Weisser says. “People are often impacted physically — they’re not sleeping well, they’re irritable but don’t know why and they feel really unmotivated and are just so exhausted and drained when they come home at the end of the day. But interestingly I find that people put up with that for a long time before they make a change because it’s familiar to them.”
And that fear of the unknown is what often holds people back from finding employment elsewhere, Lee says.
“People are sometimes afraid that their skills are too specific and they’re not able to transfer them somewhere else and they assume that every other organization is going to have the same restrictions or culture as what they’re experiencing at their current job,” Weisser explains.
Whether it’s uncertainty or fear of the unknown, Weisser says there are a few signs that will help you determine if quitting your job is the right thing to do.
1. Don’t get along with the boss
This often happens when a new boss or superior comes into the picture, Weisser says.
No matter how many times you try your best, Weisser says it’s important to note that employees should not expect to change the other person – in this case, the new boss. It’s just not going to happen.
2. The feeling of being forced out
Sometimes a position will be downsized without the employee knowing it, which may be a conscious company strategy.
“An employee’s job is redefined and they feel like they have less responsibility and they’re not being given projects and they’re basically being forced out,” Weisser explains. “Companies do that sometimes, hoping the employee will quit.”
3. There’s no career advancement
“There are times when an organization doesn’t have any opportunities for people to advance or they don’t allow it,” Weisser says. “You’re being told to stay where you are and that’s also demotivating.”
If there are no opportunities for career growth, development or advancement, Weisser says there is nothing for the employee to look forward to – hence why leaving this company may be within your best interest.
4. You’re stressed and you can’t focus
Sometimes the working conditions can be really stressful, Weisser says. The stress doesn’t only have to derive from the work you’re given, but how things are set up and handled.
For example, the office set up may be making you uncomfortable. If you prefer a more quiet and closed space to work in, but your office is open concept and that could be enough to send you into a stressful spiral.
And it’s that feeling of stress that makes it harder for people to concentrate both at work and at home.
5. Friction among co-workers
“Some people really need friends at work while others don’t really need that,” says Weisser. “But if there’s bullying or some other kind of challenge in relationships with your co-workers then it might be time to leave.”
While she doesn’t discourage employees bringing bullying in the workplace to light, proving that such a thing is happening in the workplace to a superior or human resources may be difficult, Weisser warns.
6. You’re overworked
If you feel you’re one person doing the job of what should be three people, for example, then you might feel overworked.
Weisser explains that sometimes when a new position is created, the company will hire only one person for the position because it’s not ready to hire the full number of people it needs to staff it, so it becomes the responsibility of one. When this person finally does quit, however, that’s when they’ll hire the right number of people to staff the position.
“They might not have had the budget or justification for it at the start,” Weisser says. “So you have these scenarios where employees will tell their managers over and over again that the job is too much for them but nobody is really listening, which then forces the employee to leave.”
7. Others recognize your unhappiness
If family and friends begin to comment on your recent unhappiness, that may also be a red flag, Weisser says.
“Your spouse may say that the job is really affecting your relationship and patience with the kids, for example,” Weisser says. “But often it’s the sort of thing that creeps up on you and there isn’t just one moment where you’re unhappy.”