According to recent data, employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Low unemployment with unprecedented job openings has created an employer’s worst nightmare: an employee’s market. With so much opportunity leading into the new year, it’s hard not to wonder if a career change is in your best interest.
Admittedly, quitting your job can be scary. Sometimes, it feels like breaking up with a significant other. But, like many other relationships, employees’ decision-making processes often fall victim to the sunk cost effect — where the more time or energy you’ve invested into a relationship, the harder it becomes to end it.
For those who’ve been flirting with the idea of seeing other employers, the following five signs may suggest it’s time to break up with your job and move on:
1. It’s Become A One-Way Relationship
Working for an employer is a two-way relationship. In the beginning, it’s like dating, where both parties try to impress each other whenever they’re together. However, over time, the newness of the relationship fades and it’s easy to find yourself giving more than you’re receiving. So, If you feel like you’re the only one putting in any effort or your needs are consistently going unmet, then it’s probably time to find an organization that’s willing to treat you right.
Employer Takeaway: Employees expect to be trained, developed and mentored, so provide as many opportunities as possible for your employees to grow with the company. Doing so is an investment in both employees’ careers as well as the future success of the business. When employers fail to invest in the employee-employer relationship, your best employees can suddenly find other companies more attractive than you.
2. The Relationship Only Brings You Pain
All jobs come with some amount of stress, and the right amount may make you more productive and engaged. However, if you come to a point where your mental or physical well-being is suffering, then it may be a sign you should ditch your employer for a new one. Unrealistic expectations or unsustainable workloads coupled with extreme imbalances between work and life are known to create debilitating stress, unhealthy lifestyles and, ultimately, burnout. All of these can even lead to chronic diseases, so if your friends and family don’t support your employee-employer relationship because of how it’s affecting your health, then it may be time to break things off.
Employer Takeaway: To mitigate work-related stress, employers should promote workplace wellness initiatives, offer flexible work schedules and encourage employee celebrations and routine time off. Also, quality management training goes a long way to reduce leader-led conflict related to unclear expectations, micromanagement and excessive workloads.
3. You Don’t Know Who You Are Anymore
Being exclusive long enough with one employer makes it easy for you to lose yourself in the company’s culture. Just picture it: One day you’re full of passion and ambition, and the next you find yourself embodying the status quo. Worse yet, you may acquiesce to the point that you compromise on the same personal beliefs or principles that made you so valuable to begin with. Unfortunately, you may develop a negative attitude, mentally check out at work or even struggle to find something nice to say about your employer. Eventually, being fired will start sounding like a blessing rather than a punishment. If your glass has become half empty due to your employee-employer relationship, it may be time to move on.
Employer Takeaway: Take control of your organizational culture — it serves as a competitive advantage for your business by shaping organizational behavior, innovation and learning. For better or worse, building a strong culture that embodies the company’s values serves as a system of checks and balances that only allows employees who live up to the organization’s standards to be successful in the long run.
4. You’re Fantasizing About Other Jobs
Ever catch yourself daydreaming about another career or find yourself swiping right on job boards when window shopping for work you’re passionate about? Whenever the employee-employer relationship goes stale, it’s easy to become bored, unchallenged and even disengaged. Sometimes, you may find that you’re the smartest person in the room, which means it’s probably time to find another room. When your job no longer gets you out of bed or you feel like you’re just going through the motions to get a paycheck, then your employee-employer relationship is clearly holding you back from being the best version of yourself.
Employer Takeaway: Create career progression with purpose and leverage succession planning for keeping your key employees. Expand roles whenever possible to promote job stickiness — the deeper the employee is embedded in company operations, the more likely they will be retained long-term.
5. When You Love Them But Aren’t In Love With Them
Sometimes, when the spark has finally gone out, reality starts to chip away at your favorite pair of rose-colored glasses and you begin to see the organization for what it really is. In some cases, you may realize that your company’s leadership may not be something you want to emulate or aspire to; in others, you may feel like trust is no longer there. You and your employer deserve to be happy, so if you no longer want the same things out of the relationship, it may be a good indicator that you’re growing in different directions. Whatever the reason, let’s face it — if you’re taking the time to read this, then you probably need some space.
Employer Takeaway: Build a transparent and accountable business environment within a learning organization and you might find that employees never want to leave. Listen to your workforce, solicit their ideas and harness the power of employee engagement to drive your organization into growth and prosperity.
At the end of the day, your relationship with your employer accounts for one-third of your life, so the quality of your employee-employer relationship should reflect it. If it doesn’t or you find yourself in any of these situations and choose to quit, always make sure you make a classy exit.