If you're overworked and unhappy at your job, you're not alone. With no laws limiting overtime for salaried employees, it certainly can feel like you're chained to your desk for eternity. Does this sound familiar?
- Boss' Management Style: Is your boss a micro-manager, idea stealer, bordering on abusive, or just totally incompetent? Do you get more done when he/she isn't around? Does your boss even know what you really do?
- Company Culture: Are you trapped in a company that expects 80 hours a week from all employees - even those clinging to the bottom rung? Do you receive annoying emails about how (hurray!) the company stock went up, even though your latest "raise" doesn't even cover the cost of living increases?
- Ever-expanding Job Description: Does your company magically think you're able to handle two jobs when they've laid someone else off in your department? Do you receive "ad hoc" requests that take up more time that your "actual" job?
Ok, you get the idea. It's tough out there. But when is it time to bail? I recommend thinking through the following eight considerations before telling the boss to "take this job and shove it!" Well, not actually. I don't recommend burning bridges, but you can always dream.
1. Total Compensation: Although salary is one component of your pay, make sure you take all aspects into consideration. Do you receive any bonuses or commission? Would it be possible to request a raise or bonus system based on performance? How is your health insurance? Does your company offer any unusual perks like health savings accounts, generous 401K match, child care, wellness programs, parking/commuting costs, telecommuting privileges that would be hard to replicate at another employer?
2. Opportunity for Advancement or Lateral Move: Are you basically at the height of your career path at this employer? Do you want to be? Are all the higher level positions of no interest to you? If your boss is the problem, is there any possiblities for a lateral move within the company? Are all of the above not possible - or only possible if you relocate?
3. Human Resources Department: If you have some serious issues with your boss or senior management (related to abuse or harrassment), do you think your HR department is willing to take it on? You certainly have external resources available to you, but many don't want to go down that route, especially if you plan to stay in the company. Even if it's not that serious, is HR accessible and open to employees who are having difficulty working with their boss?
4. Length of Tenure: How long have you been with the company? Are you close to being vested in their retirement plan? Staying at the company "because you've always been there" isn't a good reason either. It's scary to venture out, but you may wonder why you waited so long. On the flip side, it's also not a good idea to skip out after a few months. You may not have given the job a real chance -- and it can also be problematic for your resume.
5. Workload: Do you know if the amount of work is normal or if the company is experiencing a rush for some reason (expected in this particular season or perhaps in conjunction with some external event)? It's best to communicate with your boss and other co-workers to gauge the workload and establish expectations earlier. Even if the workload feels unbearable, if there is an end in sight, it may be worth sticking out if there are other factors to keep you there (salary, co-workers, etc.).
6. Work Experience: Even if this job really stinks, is it giving you tremendous experience that you can leverage later in your career? Many successful managers have said that they learned how NOT to be a manager from their worst bosses. Can you put up with it for a set period of time for the sake of experience?
7. Job Market: If you're really fed up, it's best to start looking covertly. Make sure you have options before you hand in your resignation. Of course, it's always best to have a job lined up, but if it's really unbearable, at least you know you have options. Temp agencies are always a stand-by, but more for younger employees who can easily explain the gap on the resume. Use your professional contacts and see if you can freelance or do contract work in the interim.
8. External Support System: If the job market is bad in your area (as it seems to be everywhere right now), do you have a support system at home? This is crucial. You don't want to push yourself to burnout or physical/mental illness. If you know you have to stay and it's really terrible, reach out to your friends and family. Make sure you remember who you are outside of work.
Hopefully, this will help the reader weigh the pros and cons of leaving an unpleasant job. It's certainly not an easy decision. Some factors will be more important than others, depending on the circumstances of each employee. I cannot stress #8 enough -- no job is worth your health!