Work at a job you hate can be mentally and emotionally draining and can impact your life both inside the office and outside of work. If that’s the case, then, why would someone stay at a job they hate?
It’s a question that might be trivial to some, while to others there could be various reasons and factors — personal, professional or otherwise — that may be keeping them from moving on to greener pastures.
“When we dislike something, we run the risk of becoming complacent,” says Angela Payne, general manager of Monster Canada. “Our motivation, drive and ambition may begin to diminish and the quality of our work could diminish with it. This type of cycle can not only have an immediate impact on a worker’s professional reputation, but can follow the worker throughout their career.”
But what kind of reasons exist that would prevent or stall someone from finding employment that makes them happier?
There’s a list of reasons, actually.
Fear of change is one of them, Payne says.
“Stability is safe,” she says. “Developing the courage to make a change in your career is by no means instantaneous. Sometimes we find it easier to maintain the status quo than to venture into the unknown.”
This may also cause tunnel vision, career coach Lee Weisser of Careers By Design adds. You may think there is nothing else out there for you when in reality there is.
Money can also be a big issue. Some might stay in a job to pay the bill, while others stay in a job to earn a salary they may not find elsewhere. Whatever it is, Payne says money is always at the forefront of almost any career decision.
“It’s natural to be fearful of leaving a so-called ‘secure’ job,” Weisser says. “But these days there is little job security anywhere. We are all more mobile and we have to think of changing jobs every few years.”
You also may hate your work, but love the people you work with, Payne points out. Those that have shown you support during a tough time can make it hard to leave.
Some may also be putting off the decision in hopes things will get better.
“Our career can be a roller coaster,” Payne says. “There are times we may love our career, and there may be times where we really, truly dislike it. It is important that employees acknowledge the low points in their careers, especially if they are becoming more frequent than years past.”
And even if you think you can wait it out another year, you’ll really know if that’s possible if your exhaustion level is high and/or you’re feeling depressed, Weisser says.
The location of the job may also be a factor, Nathan Laurie, president of Jobpostings.ca explains. Sometimes the location is so convenient that it may be a true driver of someone wanting to stay.
Lastly, it may be due to some level of laziness, he adds. You may hate your job, but not enough to do anything about it — at least not for the moment.
But if you do decide to do something about it and leave the company, as much as you may be tempted to rant in your letter of resignation: don’t, Laurie says.
However, Payne says there is no harm in detailing why you’re leaving the company should you choose to do so, just do so in a professional manner. By providing your reasons, it will help the company understand why the employee was unhappy and they may put provisions in place to prevent similar circumstances from happening in the future.
Should you have an exit interview, that will be the place where you can voice your concerns, he says, but do so by still keeping it professional. You may still want to keep these people as a reference for your next job, and you definitely don’t want to build up a negative reputation that may follow you to your next place of employment.
In the meantime, find ways to de-stress and allow yourself to think about new possibilities, Weisser advises.
“When we feel stuck, our minds cannot expand to consider opportunities,” she says. “We literally shut down our thinking.”
Take this reflection time to make a list of what you didn’t like about your current job and what you would like to see in your next career move, Laurie advises.
Your next job may not match your expectations a 100 per cent, but at least you’ll know what to look for when you start job hunting again, making it more likely to find a job you’re happier in.
If you think you need help, try a career coach as well, she points out, or perhaps a headhunter, Laurie says.
Do your research, Payne adds — internally and externally. Internal research is looking inside yourself and coming to an understanding of what will make you happier in your career.
And when looking for another job, utilize as many tools as you can, like becoming a member of professional networks, for example.