When I was employed, rather than self-employed, there’s no doubt that I liked various things. Sure, the job itself was ok to start with, but the main thing I liked was the paid holidays. There wasn’t very much in the way of benefits. Paid sick leave – which I rarely took – eyecare vouchers, and “budget Wednesday”, which was shorthand for a dodgy microwaved pie with chips and beans from the on-site café for the princely sum of £2.60.
A poll in Forbes magazine stated that 74% of people would consider changing jobs. The saddening thing is that it was not the pursuit of a more rewarding career path that was the catalyst for this, although doubtless that was a secondary motivation. The number one reason for people wanting to move was because they were simply unhappy.
So, with my pseudo-journalistic hat on, I decided to try to get to the bottom of this, by posting a discussion topic to ask what made people quit (or want to quit) their jobs. Once again, the main reasons were that they felt that they had been treated badly, they were not appreciated, nor were they were respected. Here’s the top ten:
10. Constantly bored and didn’t feel challenged
Some people like to go to work and do their jobs with their eyes shut. It puts bread on the table and that’s it. They have enough going on in their lives so they don’t need to be challenged at work. But for some people, doing their job with their eyes shut is not satisfying and simply frustrating. And subsequently not very enjoyable. If you thrive on challenges, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.
9. Needing a break
With ever-increasing productivity requirements and/or sales figures being the driving force for many businesses, people are working longer hours than ever before. My respondents complained of having to work through lunch on a daily basis, sometimes without even having time to go to the loo! Companies work their socks off to get ISO approved status and to be able to tag the phrase “Investors In People” on to their “About Us” web page. And yet when it comes to work/life balance, the “life” part of the equation doesn’t seem to be balanced at all.
8. Didn’t feel respected
Respect is a two-way street. If your boss respects you, the chances are you’ll respect them. On the flipside, the reverse is also true. Think David Brent from The Office. Feedback also suggests that people have the most respect for bosses who have actually done the jobs of their workforce too. The boss can therefore empathise and recognise the problems their staff encounter on a daily basis. Bosses who rule from an ivory tower with little or no grasp of what their humble minions do are often muttered about in the tearoom.
7. Not offered any professional development
Most conscientious employees want to be able to do their jobs well. Volunteering to go on a course for a day or two should clearly be encouraged if the end result is going to be of benefit to the company and their productivity. One respondent booked a day course for a rather modest £300, only for this to be pulled at the last minute due to the need to save some of the department’s budget. This was in spite of the son of the decision-maker going on numerous expensive courses throughout the year. The respondent quit that same evening – very satisfying.
6. Boss from hell
So as we’ve established in point number one, if you don’t respect your boss – which may well stem from them not respecting you – that can make your life a living nightmare. That churning of the stomach as you wake up in the morning, dreading the daily trudge to the office where the atmosphere is as tense as a gymnast’s abdominals is a feeling we’ve all had at some point. But one of the worst stories I’ve heard is that when, during a departmental meeting, the already overworked staff with unreasonable targets asked whether they could claim “downtime” for the weekly fire drills, the boss replied that he’d be more than happy for his workforce to all burn in lieu of the fire drills. Inspiring.
5. It was one rule for them, one rule for everyone else
It shouldn’t be too much to ask for parity with one’s colleagues, but a lot of feedback suggested that this is often not the case. Working from home in this day and age is ever more practical, with fast broadband speeds, FTP sites and remote access to on-site servers. Unless one needs to be on site for meetings and so on, and as long as the work gets done, why force people to battle through the rush hour and waste several hours a day when they could be more productive at home? Certainly I get loads done freelancing from home – but then I do make sure I’m disciplined about it. The rules for flexible working are unclear and favour those with children or other dependents. My respondents resented being discriminated against just because they didn’t fall into the “carer” category.
4. My employer was unethical
Sometimes the company you now work for will bear no resemblance to the one you joined many moons ago. This may be due to a need for diversification within the business, but it is just as likely to be the case that unethical practices cause you to bolt like a wild horse with English mustard between its legs.
The CEO of a major high street retailer came up with an idea where, in order to boost performance and to keep everyone on their toes, he would sack the poorest performing store manager and sales person at the monthly meeting. One senior store manager stood up, called the CEO an effing C-word and resigned on the spot. Brave.
3. I, erm…slept with my boss
Office relationships can be fraught with difficulties as it is, especially if you subsequently split up and then have to see the same resentful (or smug?) face every day. But taking it a stage further and notching up the bedpost with your boss is ill-advised to say the least. One person left as a result of the daggers being thrown at her every day, despite the fact that the boss was the one that broke it off in the first place.
2. “I wish I’d worked more…”
..is something you’ll never see on a gravestone. The reason I went freelance is because I wanted to devote myself to what I love doing: copywriting (and other writing, and then a whole lot more writing). So, as I say, nobody ever died and said, “I wish I’d worked more.” But I daresay a lot of people said, “I wish I’d enjoyed myself more.” If you can find a job you enjoy, that might well make your life a whole lot happier, so a safe leap may be worthwhile.
1. I did want to change jobs but…
Some people are convinced that they can’t find anything better…although then admit that they haven’t tried. Fear is a big factor here. You have a mortgage – and you have a steady if unsatisfying job that pays that plus the bills. It’s a big, bad, interview-laden and test-heavy world out there. But is fear really a good reason NOT to at least put out some feelers? You may be surprised – or surprise yourself.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you all whiz out resignation letters and take a blind plunge into a new and more challenging career. That would be ill-advised, to say the least. But with some careful planning and research, possibly even a spot of retraining, you might find that you aren’t as trapped as you think you are.
by Ashley Morrison
Ashley is a copywriter, blogger and editor