When to Quit and when to Endure
I do not encourage or suggest for any person staying in a job where they are mistreated or their mental and physical health is at risk. I have to put that out there first of all.
Call me a Gen X dinosaur or whatever you like; the fact of the matter is that increasingly often employees choose to jump jobs to escape problems, look for an easier path forward or because a couple of extra dollars in the pay packet apparently justify them overlooking loyalty and non-financial benefits.
Work is like a microcosm of life – it isn’t always peachy. And that is NORMAL!
If you’re not happy at work and contemplating a change, here’s my advice on when to quit and when to endure:
When there is a real risk to your health and safety.
Have there been a series of workplace accidents? Management will not address the problem despite being asked? Get out of there – nothing is more important than your safety.
When you are not getting paid.
Companies have a legal obligation to pay you for hours worked. If your salary hits your bank account 12 hours late – give them a break. As a one off, unforeseen issues mean it’s delayed for a couple of days – these things happen. But if it’s been 3 months and you still haven’t seen a dime, it might be time to cut your losses!
When you have tried, and tried, and tried … and tried some more and nothing changes.
I’m talking about 6 months or even a year of trying, maybe more. Not a few days of trying your best and wondering why it hasn’t changed.
When you have given the company every opportunity to change and/or meet your needs.
I always say to staff ‘I never want to get a surprise resignation letter. If you’re not happy at work, talk to me about it. If I can change it, I will. If I can’t change it, then your resignation will be understood and accepted.’
When there is no possibility of career advancement.
Want to take the next step in your career but the company can’t provide the opportunity – it’s fair enough to look elsewhere.
When your vision and values and the company’s get further apart.
If you wake up one day and realize that the reason everything feels like an uphill battle is because your values are no longer aligned. Depending on the gap and what the influencing factors are, it may lead to the decision to leave and finds somewhere you have a better cultural fit with.
If the current situation is not the norm.
Just like a person, a business will have its ups and downs. Some days you’ll love your job and other days you’ll hate it. Sometime those bad days will string together and turn into bad months. But ride through the storm, stay positive and be pro-active in helping the business turn around – this will be more rewarding in the long run.
If you’ve been in the job for less than 1 year.
Extenuating circumstances aside, recognize the damage your CV (and career) can take if you get a reputation as a job jumper. I’m most interested in CVs that have 2 years here, 4 years there, 18 months there. Repeated short term gigs suggest that either you have been extremely unlucky or (most likely) that the problem is with you, not them.
If a career leap is on the horizon.
If you are just months away from a big promotion, remember that your leaving point at this company is most likely your starting point at the next. If you leave the role as a Manager, you can justifiably apply for new roles at that level. But if you leave as an Assistant Manager, it will be harder to convince the next employer that you’re ready to take the step up.
Endure if it makes you happy.
Don’t feel like you have to always be chasing a promotion or more money. If you love what you do and enjoy the company you work for – stick with it. The old saying is true, money doesn’t buy happiness.
If you want the biggest learning experience of your life.
A mentor once said to me, ‘These may not be the most enjoyable months of your career, but you will learn the most from them’. I glared at her – I wasn’t wanting that response, I wanted sympathy! But whenever I look back on that time throughout my whole career I realize she was so right. Coming to work every day, feeling sick about the situation I was dealing with and having to endure actually made me stronger, smarter and better equipped to handle challenges in the future. It isn’t fun but it is certainly valuable.
Every individual situation is different and should be considered carefully but be honest with yourself and ask ‘am I taking the easy way out?’