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Why We Stay In Jobs We Hate

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Our working lives don’t readily compare to just 30 years ago. Modern workplaces are designed with the employee’s wellbeing (and their productivity) in mind; benefits and working practices are more varied and interesting; there is no ‘job for life’ mentality; and we are frequently told that the sky is the limit and that we can all be stars. So why do more of us hate our jobs today? And why don’t we do anything about it?

The top results on Google’s predictive text when you type, “My job is…” are “making me ill” and “boring”. Replace the word “job” with “boss” or “manager” and the results are even worse. How many people do you know who don’t moan about their job or Monday mornings or an annoying boss? Year on year, research and surveys show that dissatisfaction with our jobs and disengagement is increasing, with our unhappiness stemming from a range of issues. The usual culprits are bad management and difficult individuals, or a lack of progression and opportunities. A more contemporary malaise sees an increasing number of us feel like we are simply stagnating in a world where companies preach passion, positivity and an enviable work/life balance.

Most of us know, deep down at least, that it’s not healthy to stay in a job that makes us unhappy. Our self-esteem gets lower, our mental wellbeing suffers and we risk becoming trapped in a negative cycle of events that is hard to break, but the majority of us don’t take any active steps to do anything about it. There are thousands of excuses we can make, but the top reasons we don’t leave jobs we dislike are:

  • Uncertainty: a fear of instability or insecurity at the thought of leaving for the unknown
  • Low self esteem: a lack of confidence to apply for roles or interview again
  • Misplaced loyalty: that you ought to stay, they need you etc.
  • Trapped: the golden handcuffs issue of earning less elsewhere or having a less impressive job title
  • Stubbornness: subconsciously, some of us need the challenge and drama of a negative experience in our lives!

If you recognise any of the above symptoms, or the reasons to stay in a job you do not love, then it’s important to take a step back to assess. Take some time off. Talk to someone who knows about careers, maybe a sympathetic recruitment consultant who can discuss what options are open to you – even if you haven’t been in your current position for long, it’s acceptable to have a blip on your CV if you have sound reasoning and answers to support it.

We are bombarded in today’s media by idealistic images and slogans that encourage us to chase our dreams and to raise our expectation levels about what we deserve in life – and while we can easily brush these off as being unrealistic… what if they’re right?