You’ve had it. You can’t face another day at that office with those people. Maybe it’s not as clear-cut as wanting to strangle your boss or disagreeing with your company’s mission. Maybe you just feel bored, or stressed, or unhappy (or all 3!) without really pinpointing why.
Here are four questions you should ask yourself when deciding if it’s time to cut bait and look for a new job.
1. Is my work appreciated?
Morale drops when employees feel like their work is not appreciated by the powers-that-be. A recent Gallup study of employee engagement (defined as feeling invested in your job) showed that in 2014, less than one-third of people polled said they were “engaged” in their regular job. That’s up slightly from years past, but still—that’s an awful lot of people who don’t feel appreciated and motivated in their current roles.
Many companies are trying to stem this by offering special employee appreciation events or give bonuses/rewards for excellent work. However, if your boss doesn’t seem to notice or care that you’re working like crazy to support the company’s bottom line, take your skills and experience where they’ll be valued.
2. What the heck am I doing here?
Purpose is a key motivator of workplace happiness and productivity. If you know your company’s goals and your role in moving those forward, chances are you’ll feel a focused connection to your day-to-day work. However, when those goals get vague, it can be easy to get caught in a feedback loop of coasting.
If you find yourself checking Instagram more than your work email, the culprit could be a lack of direction. The first step should be working with your manager to define priorities and goals—but if you do this and you still feel like most of your day is spent drifting through time-filler tasks and pointless meetings, it might just be time to move on.
3. Am I Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere?
It can be so demoralizing to realize you don’t have the tools and resources available to do a great job. Maybe your company is in a financial crunch and can’t hire new people. Perhaps your manager just doesn’t have the time or desire to explain what needs to be done.
I’ve worked in places where everyone is so caught up in their own endless to-do lists that no one has the time to sit down and effectively plan, execute, and support a project that needed to be finished… a week ago. Chances are, it’s not your fault—but it can feel like it’s on you to fix.
Once you’re in a defensive crouch and feeling overwhelmed, it can be really difficult to a) evaluate the situation objectively, and b) ask for the resources you need. If you reach that point and you don’t see your workplace offering any solutions beyond a shrug and a “get it done,” then it’s definitely time to re-evaluate your future there.
4. Is it all about the Benjamins?
You’ve probably thought, “They don’t pay me enough to do this” during one frustrating moment or another. Or maybe you envy people skipping out to enjoy expensive lunches while you eat a PB&J at your desk. It’s always going to be tempting to go find a job that will pay you more than you make now, but it’s also a legitimate reason to be dissatisfied—and ultimately move on to another job.
Let’s face it: a fairy godmother is not likely to pop into your life and offer you double your salary for the same job; but if you start to feel like you really are being undervalued in pay and/or benefits, then start looking around. Ask yourself: What salary do people in roles similar to yours make in other companies? Have you made contributions to your team or company that might merit a raise, but have gone unrewarded? If you have reasonable pay expectations and your manager or company is unable (or unwilling) to accommodate that, then you should start thinking about your options.
If you identify with any of these (or, goodness forbid, all), then it’s probably time to start putting out feelers in your network, and brushing up that resume. You deserve better!
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