Career Woman

Infographic: How to decide whether to quit your job


Nothing lasts forever. And the average job lasts just over four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of

Labor Statistics. If you’ve been hanging on to yours, too scared or apathetic to quit, too bored or exploited to settle, it might be time to take a closer look at your options.

Practically half the workforce feels the same as you, although each individual has their own reasons. There will always be a few people frustrated and unhappy in their job, but when just 51% say they’re satisfied at work then you know we have a problem with the work culture.

And when even the word Slack has been co-opted for a productivity tool, it is surely a moment to take stock of things, as advocated by organizations like The Idler, a company “devoted to helping people to lead more fulfilled lives.”

While some new companies are willing to engage with their moral responsibilities towards their employees and help them to become the best they can, ‘profit above all else’ remains the byword for the majority. A new decade beckons, and a more conscientious generation is stepping up to the plate, but most professionals will still find that they are beholden to themselves to ensure their own dignity and protect their own potential and rights – and those of the vulnerable workers around them.

This sounds great in theory, but the history of worker rights and equitable professional development has been carved out of desperation and necessity as much as class consciousness and honorable intentions. Employees have a responsibility to themselves and those around them, but are also caught up in structures that rusted shut many years ago and which tend to be oiled only by money. Making the decision to hold on to a job that gets you down or limits your potential is not easy, even if the idealistic thing seems to be to quit.

In pretty much every case, if you don’t have the means to support yourself when you quit, and you don’t have another job lined up, recruitment experts recommend you to hang on until you’ve got those things sorted out. But if you have them in place, what other considerations should you make before handing in your notice?

It all depends where your main drive to quit comes from. Is it the people around you? Toxic work culture very often stems from just one or two bad apples. Getting the situation sorted can be preferable to just getting the heck out of there, if the rot hasn’t set in too far. Before cashing in your chips, talk over the problem with the manager.

If the problem person is your manager, you might want to talk things over with a trusted colleague or middle-manager first, and/or somebody in HR. But ultimately, a chat with a problem manager about the issue should help you resolve more clearly whether to stay or go.

If it’s a company culture that doesn’t seem to be reducible to one or two individuals, you face a steeper comeback. If you can bear to, try making friends with these odd people that you spend your days with. Perhaps the culture works a bit differently once you see it from the inside, and realize your colleagues are just about human.

Or if it’s definitely something noxious about the way the company functions, talk to the boss. Tell them things are too competitive when they could be collaborative; too critical when they could be supportive; too macho when it’s, you know, the third decade of the 21st century (just about).

This process will help you to analyze the toxicity of your workplace, too. And if a fix is not forthcoming, to decide whether you can deal with it (by focusing on your work, ignoring unrelated conflicts, and noting any incidents you think you might need to talk about at a potential tribunal later on.)

If you’re considering quitting for a more practical reason, such as a tiring commute, family responsibilities, or due to low wages, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking these things are irresolvable. You have the right to ask for a way of working that allows you to live your life well, whether that means working from home or on a flexible schedule, or getting a living wage. Your boss might say no, but be ready to negotiate, prove your value, and demonstrate the reasons and benefits for your boss to treat you like a human being!

If all else fails and you do end up quitting, prepare to do so with a short, clear, non-aggressive resignation letter. Be careful, because in these days of doxing and call-outs, everything stays on the record somewhere. Be ready to answer some questions about your reasoning and your intentions, but remember you’re not obligated to answer anything you don’t want. Clear your desk, clear your computer of personal data (including clearing the browser history and cache), and get out of that place.

A new horizon is just around the corner!

About Taylor Tomita'

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