a middleSage publication

Take this job and shove it….

Photo on 12-10-12 at 10.19 AMIt’s always been a philosophy of mine; In order to find out what you really want to do for work, you need to do some things you don’t like.

Being unhappy at work (or hating your job) is a great education in; “If not this then”.  So if I hate this, what would I LIKE to do.  The problem with being unhappy at work is we never really leave it at work.  We take it home with us, like dirty Tupperware.    We’re so glad to walk out of the office on Friday evening and already on Sunday Evening we can feel ourselves began the “tightening up” process.  Bracing ourselves for a full week of being miserable.  And then there’s working with people who don’t like their jobs….generally, they’re not happy until you’re just as miserable in your job as they are in theirs.

So how do you know when and why to pull the plug?


Absolute Global took a look at why people quit their jobs.  As you’ll notice on the list, none of the top reasons were because people weren’t making enough money.  It’s all about how the person FEELS when doing whatever it is they do.  Their research showed the following 10 categories for reasons people quit their job.

Under-staffing – are your employees expected to carry an unrealistic workload that sees them working long hours day after day without respite or promise of a better future?
Poor Communication – are management communicating with staff in an open, transparent and timely manner?
Lack of Challenge – are departing employees saying that they needed more responsibility, and do they seek opportunities that just don’t exist in your current organisation?
Lack of Empowerment – Are staff empowered to make reasonable decisions in their job? Or is micro-management the rule?
No Recognition – Are employees being recognised for their efforts, over and above their pay packet? Does this recognition occur in both ‘Manager-to-employee’ and ‘Manager-to-team’ situations?
Limited Work-Life Options – Are you flexible with job sharing, maternity / paternity / study leave; are employees able to work part-time or from a home office?
Poor Company Culture – Are there ethical issues at conflict with what the company says its culture represents and how it actually operates?
The Employee’s Life Situation Has Changed – Have departing employees just married or had a baby; are their salary and benefits no longer supportive of their life needs?
Questionable Promotional Practices – Has management promoted someone who lacks the training and/or necessary experience to supervise, alienating staff and driving away good employees
No Enjoyment – Have departing employees simply stopped having fun at work and enjoying their jobs?

Why are we so unhappy at work in the first place?

LinkedIn published a recent study by Dale Carnegie Training showing that nearly three-quarters of employees aren’t fully engaged at their jobs. Here’s the list of reasons why;

They think the grass is greener someplace else. If your employee’s friends are having an amazing experience at another company, why wouldn’t they be envious? The transparency of employee benefits and perks at other companies can sometimes lead your employees to dream about working elsewhere.

Keep an eye on what other companies are doing and try to match where you can. Sure, your company’s perks aren’t going to be on par with Google, but why not try to give your employees something worth bragging about? They’ll be more motivated, eager to spread the good word, and you’ll benefit from an improved company culture.


Their values don’t align with the company. Dissatisfaction is bound to take place if your employees aren’t sold on the same things you are. If your company values creativity and collaboration, it’s in your best interest to make screening for these values a mandatory part of your hiring process. Regular feedback and reviews can help you stay in tune with employees’ values and how they align with what the company needs and values most.


They don’t feel valued. If you aren’t taking the time to pat your employees on the back, it’s bound to impact employee happiness. Recognition breeds feelings of value and loyalty. What are you doing to show your employees they’re valued members of the company? This doesn’t mean giving monetary rewards for every accomplishment–instead, regularly utilize verbal praise and offer the occasional gift or reward for awesome performance.


Job insecurity. It’s easy to dislike your job when you’re worried whether you will still have it a few months or a year from now. If your company is going through hard times, the instability may be taking a toll on your employees. Remain transparent and work on keeping spirits high and your team engaged…or they might end up leaving you out of fear.


There’s no room for advancement. What’s your company’s policy for promotions? Many employees end up feeling stuck when there’s no chance of advancing within their company. This often leads to job hopping. Your company may be small, but it’s important to create a plan for employees to grow with you.

They’re unhappy with their pay. Nothing extinguishes passion quite like the feeling of being paid less than you deserve. Evaluating the salaries of your employees can be unrealistic at certain times, but you should consider asking your employee what they feel they should be making — their honesty may surprise you.


There’s too much red tape. Rules may be ruining your team. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to make your own decisions. Boost the autonomy of your employees by giving them room to accomplish goals. This establishes a healthy level of trust, productivity, and benefits the company as a whole.


They’re not being challenged. Your employees are on a constant search to advance their skills and improve through their work with you. A lack of meaningful, challenging work is certain to breed disdain. Find out whether your employees feel like they’re learning or advancing their knowledge. If they’re not becoming better, they will go someplace where they feel they can improve.


The passion’s gone. There’s a huge difference between living to work and working to live. Do your employees love what they do? The current job climate has led many people to take on jobs they don’t love. Focus on hiring thoroughly passionate employees and giving them a purpose to maintain their passion throughout their time on the job.


Their boss sucks. Poor management can ruin even the most passionate and well-paid employees love for their job. Don’t let your awful management and leadership skills ruin the drive of your workforce. Do you micromanage and criticize? Are you a bad communicator? If you have unhappy employees, the first thing you should look at is your management habits. The next thing to do is actually talk to your employees to get to the bottom of the problem.

i quitConsidering there’s 52 weeks in a year and most people have an average work week of at least 40 hours – that’s 2080 hours a year.  Now add in all of the hours you’ve laid in bed awake in the middle of the night rehashing the latest reasons that make you so unhappy at the office.    Add to that all the evening hours you’ve spent not present (in body, mind & soul) because of your commitment to a job you hate.  Wouldn’t you like that time back?


One question only you can answer is; Do I hate my job because I am surrounded by people complaining all day about how much they hate their job?

Most people have to work to survive.

Before you jump to conclusions that you hate your job, think to yourself, “Do I really hate my job, or have I just complained about it to others so much that I think I do?”.

When you first start a job you’re generally both grateful to have gotten a job and you go into it with an attitude of hope.  Then you start making friends with your co-workers and you list and even engage in complaining about the things that bother you.  Soon enough that’s all you talk about.   The next thing you know you’re waiting for your future to begin with a new job and blaming your unhappiness on your job.

You have a responsibility to yourself and your happiness to either A) find a way to reconcile what you do to earn a living and how to find “your happy place” or B) take the plunge, move on.

Being unhappy for close to a quarter or your life just isn’t worth it.

What about you?  Does work make you happy?


  1. Before retiring from the “normal” working life I was happy when challenged and when I felt not only appreciated, but CRUCIAL to the overall team. When those feelings left me, replaced by work overload, resulting stress and a new concern regarding job security, I knew it was time to pull the plug.
    Now I am challenged every day by writing and by painting. My overload is regulated by my self, based on whatever I am absorbed in. I am crucial to the outcomes of my efforts, and appreciate any and all hard work I put forth. Not sure yet about the “job security” aspect!
    Doing what you love doing is what keeps people plugged in and alive.
    Julie Phelps recently posted…Fashion Confuddlement – Senior EditionMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      17 July

      Oh, Julie…I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Sometimes we do what we’ve always done and can’t see our way out of our “perceived path”. Our happiness is worth a lot!

  2. Sue Shoemaker

    17 July

    This may seem strange, but I have never had to work at something that I didn’t enjoy! I’m in my 60’s and I have only experienced 6 different jobs, and all of them have been pretty much on the same “career path.” It never occurred to me to apply for work that didn’t interest me, and interestingly enough, opportunities for work in occupations or fields that I didn’t feel “drawn to” never really materialized or became a requirement to survive.

    Now, I can’t say that I LOVED every moment of every day that I worked full time…there were ups and downs. The work was meaningful, challenging, purposeful and required that I be a life-long learner. For the most part, my co-workers and bosses were educated, well meaning and caring individuals. As I look back, I have to admit there were many Sundays that I dreaded having to get ready for another week, AND getting up BEFORE the crack of dawn every day was NOT something I enjoyed. However, because I enjoyed my work so much, it took a LONG time and lots of thinking and talking and preparing to “pull the plug” on my career and step into the world of retirement.

    The sporadic “work-for-pay” that I do today energizes me and exhausts me. It forces me to learn new information to enhance my skills. It provides me with mental, physical and social interaction that feeds my spirit.

    I am also “finding my way” in the “world of volunteering” these days.

    Yes…the work I get to AND choose to do, makes me happy!

    • Barbara Coleman

      17 July

      Sue, I think your very lucky to have had such a positive experience. I think maybe you were the one that made it that way (so very positive) for the people you worked with! Your spirit is such a giving spirit and working with people like yourself is always such a pleasure!!

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