by Ashley Morrison.
There are many reasons why, according to a recent poll by Forbes, 74% of people would consider changing jobs. One would like to think that this is just because they want to move onwards and upwards in pursuit of an ever-more rewarding career. But the reality is that a lot of that 74% are simply unhappy at work.
To get to the bottom of this, I decided to use the rather unscientific technique of emailing some contacts for their first- and second-hand bad work experiences, and posting a question on Facebook, asking what made people quit or want to quit their jobs.
The feedback was plentiful and varied. But by and large, people were unhappy because they were either treated badly, not appreciated, or the company's values or sometimes the nature of the business itself were virtually unrecognisable from when they first started working there.
So here are the top ten unscientifically-gathered reasons why some people wanted to quit or did quit their jobs:
"...Find out what it means to me" sang Aretha Franklin. Respect is most certainly a two-way street. If your boss respects you, the chances are you'll respect them. On the flipside, the reverse is also true. Feedback 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.
Undercover Boss is a great series on Channel 4. The CEOs of national and sometimes global organisations adorn a disguise and go incognito, setting to work for a week within the general workforce. They emerge enlightened and with a newfound respect for their staff. And the staff, who now feel listened to, appreciated and respected, find a new and growing respect for their boss in return.
Conversely, 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. One respondent resigned for that very reason: there was absolutely no mutual respect.
Hit the sack to get the sack
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.
"I thrive on new challenges"
That's always a great one to trot out at job interviews. It might well be true, of course - so the trouble is, what if the challenges stop? For some people, if they can do their job with their eyes shut, then that's not very satisfying. And subsequently not very enjoyable. Given how long we spend at work, it's preferable to try and find something we like doing. Granted, this is certainly not always possible, especially in the current economic climate and I'm not going all Normal Tebbit on you and suggesting that you all get "on yer bike". But if you can find a job you enjoy, a [safe] leap may well be worthwhile.
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' onto their 'About Us' web page. And yet when it comes to work/life balance, the life part of the equation can go hang for all the employer cares.
Jobs for the boys
Most conscientious employees want to be able to do their jobs well, if not better. 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 friend of mine 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. My friend quit that same evening - very satisfying.
I also know of one woefully under-qualified graduate who was offered a senior job in his father's company, much to the ire of other internal employees who had applied for the same role. He was rubbish at the job and still is; he's still there.
The 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.
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 evermore 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? The rules for flexible working are unclear and greatly favour those with children or other dependents. My respondents resented being discriminated against just because they didn't fall into the 'carer' category.
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.
"I wish I'd worked more"
..is something you'll never see on a gravestone. I have a couple of friends who, by their own admission, are not ambitious. They have what one might call run-of-the-mill jobs; they don't earn big bucks, but neither do they give work a second's thought once they're out the door. Nor do they have much work-related stress in their lives - if any. They earn enough to own a house out of town and to be able to go on holidays like the rest of us - albeit not to the Maldives. No, they don't drive fancy cars; no, they don't wear designer clothes; no, they don't have all the latest gadgets. But I uphold them as among the happiest people I know. Could we (or I) learn a lesson from that?
Feel the fear and don't do it anyway?
As mentioned, a Forbes poll has revealed that 74% of people would consider changing jobs if they could. A lot of people I've spoken to, however, 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 which 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?
CAVEAT: 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.
Ashley Morrison is a blogger, copywriter and editor.
Ten reasons to quit your job.
by Ashley Morrison.