According to a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association’s American Institute of Stress, the No. 1 cause of stress for Americans is their job pressure, including co-worker tension, bosses, and work overload. Of those polled, 77% say that stress had a negative impact on their health and affected them physically. In this survey, stressful relationships came in at No. 4, which means that a bad job could potentially be more dangerous to your health than a bad lover. If you can match any of these dysfunctional couple dynamics to your current situation at work, get out now!
The courtship was wonderful, but now the romance is dead. When you’re in the interviewing stage for a new job, the prospective employer is full of promise about all the opportunities for this new relationship. The “sell” on the employer’s side is a determining factor in your decision to accepting an exciting new position. And although it’s likely that the passion for your job may wane over the course of time, work should never feel like an intolerable chore or a place you dread going in the mornings. In all work environments, relationships change. But if your association with your managers has devolved into exchanges of disregard or disrespect, and your contributions are taken for granted, it’s time to find a new suitor.
You feel like having a bad relationship is better than no relationship. How many times have you heard, “Just be glad you have a job.” That may be a satisfying notion, if you have no skills, no talent, no network, or expertise. But if you are a skilled professional and feel that working a job you hate is better than looking for another opportunity that values your contributions, then you may have a bigger problem than finding a job. Your challenge may be connected to your self-worth. A recent study by the University of Melbourne found that those who self-reported higher levels of confidence earned higher salaries and were promoted more. Sometimes the longer you stay in a bad environment, the more it erodes your self confidence. If you doubt the worth of your professional contributions, seek counseling from a career coach, take a skills assessment test, and/or seek opportunities to learn new skills.
You’re afraid to speak up for yourself. Fear of repercussions keeps many employees from asking for a raise or promotion. Fear keeps them from discussing uncomfortable encounters or unreasonable directives. How many times have you adopted the “go along to get along” attitude only to be more frustrated and angry with work situations? Audra Bohannon, principle at Global Novations, a talent management company in Massachusetts, says that every employee should know their line, the point at which there is no compromise. What is non-negotiable for your professional career? And are you willing to draw the line on it with your manager? If you don’t speak up for your well-being at work, you can’t expect others to fight on your behalf.
When he tells you, “Next time it’ll be different,” you believe him. Corporations operate in the best interest of their company goals. The best organizations develop cultures where employees feel committed not only to the work, but loyal to the brand. In the worst of companies, loyalty is used as a carrot to make employees commit to elusive future conditions: “When things get better, when we reorganize, if we make this goal … you will see the benefit.” Adopt the motto found in many retail shops across the nation: “Trust in God, all others pay cash.” If you’re in an organization that doesn’t honor its employees, know that it’s highly unlikely that they will honor promises of a better tomorrow.
When you finally decide to leave, you think “Why the hell did I put myself through that?” Don’t be bound by analysis paralysis—endlessly weighing options instead of making a decision about where you deserve or desire to be in your career. You can make a decision or allow circumstances to decide for you. In all of the interviews I’ve ever conducted, I’ve never met a successful professional who regretted leaving a bad work environment or an unfulfilling job. Even those who say they were fired admit that it was an experience that provided valuable lessons and ultimately became one of the best decisions made.