As employees, we all have the right to work that fulfils and invigorates us. So, what happens when this is no longer the case? Especially after last year, it was easy to forget this. Those with steady full-time or part-time work felt lucky to be employed- especially during the early stages of covid. But now as our lives begin to return to a somewhat normal state, so is the job market. The federal and state governments have fast-tracked a number of projects to boost and revitalise the country’s economy and organisations – especially within the construction, engineering and property sectors -have started to recruit new talent in order to meet the deadlines for these fast-tracked projects. With new job opportunities starting to emerge, many employees who’ve stuck it out in a job during covid now have the chance to consider other options.
Interestingly, studies have revealed that starting a new job is widely considered one of the most stressful life experiences (The American Institute of Stress, 2020). Indeed, coming into a brand-new environment and trying to navigate new processes and relationships can feel very daunting at first. However, starting a new job can also play an integral part in your personal and professional development- and if you’re struggling in your current role, can provide a serious boost to your overall happiness. Furthermore, changing jobs throughout your career is quite common; among workers aged between 25 to 34, the median tenure is 2.8 years approximately. From ages 35 to 44, the median job tenure is 4.9 years and from ages 45 to 54, the median job tenure was 7.6 years.
To help you determine if changing jobs is worth the initial stress, Design & Build have collated a list of key signs that it’s time to leave– maybe not today or tomorrow, but before you let another year pass you by:
The Sunday Scaries
We’re all familiar with that melancholy feeling that strikes on a Sunday evening when you realise another full working week is ahead of you. But if this feeling has transformed into a foreboding sense of dread rather than a wistfulness of the weekend past, there are probably bigger things at play.
It’s important to examine these feelings more closely and look at what is causing the sense of dread or anxiety. Is this something that occurs consistently? Does it stem from thinking about the amount of work waiting for you on Monday? Or from a particular colleague or manager you have to face? Maybe it’s due to a combination of factors or a general sense of unhappiness at work.
If this feeling doesn’t come along every Sunday or due to a busy period at work, you can reassure yourself that this feeling of dread will pass along with the deadline. But if this feeling persists every Sunday, this could be a sign to leave your job.
Before deciding to leave, however, it might be worth considering if there are any steps you can take in your current organisation to resolve the issue. If you feel your workload is becoming unmanageable, is it possible to speak to your team or manager about delegating tasks? If there’s been conflict with a particular colleague, do you feel comfortable speaking to them about it, or going to a manager or HR professional for support? If the answer to either of these questions is no, or worse, you’ve tried both these options and haven’t achieved any sort of resolution, it’s probably best to cut your losses and look for opportunities that you think will make you excited or motivated to come in to work. Or at the very least, unconcerned rather than dreading each Monday morning.
The Inability To Be Yourself
While most people will censor themselves to a certain extent at work, or project a more ‘professional’ image, employees should ultimately feel comfortable to be themselves around their colleagues and in their office. If you start to feel like you have a split personality depending on whether you’re at work or not, or find yourself doing things at work that don’t feel in touch with who you are, this is a sign that the organisational culture might not be for you. Putting on an act, or doing things that don’t align with your beliefs five days a week is mentally exhausting and can lead to burnout if not addressed (Valcour, 2018). This should be prefaced with the fact that those who have just started with an organisation are expected to feel a little ‘out of sorts’ while they find their feet, which can take six to 12 months. This feeling of disconnection runs deeper, where you feel pressured to act in a way that is outside your value system.
Maybe it is acting more cut-throat than you would like, to meet organisational set targets. Or feeling like you have to ‘tame’ or mute your personality to fit in with your greater team. Or having to adhere to decision-making practices that don’t align with your core values.
Whatever the reason, if you’ve given the organisation at least six to 12 months, and still feel like your interests, values and beliefs clash with those of the company, you should start looking at organisations that will be a better cultural fit. This can be hard to determine from a generic job search, but you can look at an organisation’s mission statement on their website, search online reviews or reach out to a recruiter who will often have insider knowledge, to help you gauge what companies will better align with your values.
Afterall when an employee feels their values and interests match those of their organisation, they are more likely to find meaning and purpose in their work. Which will ultimately lead to greater job satisfaction and performance.
No Room To Grow
When was the last time you felt challenged at work or learnt something new? While there is nothing wrong with having a stable work routine, after a year or two doing the same thing day in and day out can start to feel monotonous. If you feel you haven’t been able to learn or develop your skillset in a long time you could be in a professional rut, which can cause frustration, boredom and negatively impact productivity. Maybe this rut has been caused because you’ve been pigeon-holed and passed over for promotions, or because you feel there’s simply no more opportunities or positions within the company you can advance to.
Whatever the reason, having the ability to regularly learn, develop new skills and have new experiences is important to an individual’s esteem, morale and of course, their professional development. If you feel this is being stifled in your current job, or your efforts for learning or career advancement haven’t been met by your employers, it could be time to cut your losses and start looking for a company offering new opportunities and is encouraging of your professional development.
Workplace Feels Unstable Or Disorganised
Perhaps you’ve heard some unsettling rumours on the office floor about mass redundancies, or you see managers constantly being moved from department to department and there’s a high staff turnover. This lack of stability and disorganisation will not only incur stress but impact overall productivity, as the constantly changing people and teams mean there’s no clear leadership or direction in place. If these scenarios ring true for you, it’s important to take stock of your current role and ask yourself if you feel secure in it. Especially if a lot of your co-workers have recently jumped ship or you know of an impending restructure, leaving a role can actually be the smartest option.
By proactively seeking new opportunities, you can successfully remove yourself from an unstable environment, rid yourself of any associated stress and give yourself a better chance at progressing your career.
If any of the above resonates with you it is time to be on the lookout for new opportunities. Choosing to leave a job – especially one you’ve been in for a long time – can be a little overwhelming. Where do you start your search? Who do you reach out to? For advice or guidance on the early stages of your job search (resume and interview prep) or to find out about current opportunities – especially within the public sector- our Public Sector People consultants are always willing to help. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
 The American Institute of Stress (AIS). (2020). The Holmes- Rahe Stress Inventory. AIS. Retrieved from: https://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/
 Alison Doyle. (2020). How Often Do People Change Jobs During A Lifetime? The Balance Careers. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-often-do-people-change-jobs-2060467
 Valcour, Monique. (2018). When Burnout Is A Sign You Should Leave Your Job. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2018/01/when-burnout-is-a-sign-you-should-leave-your-job