It’s a shock - the sheer number of individuals who express they are ready to venture into new work life territory. Past surveys have revealed some troubling numbers, and I am convinced that there is quite a lot of pent-up demand for job shifting. The state of our recovering economy – which has essentially curtailed free movement within the job market – is taking its toll on attitudes toward work. Job engagement seems to be waning and other negative workplace consequences cannot be far behind.
Interestingly, employees will stay for the content of the work (Read Blessing-White’s research report here.) So taking a very close look at your current situation piece by piece - might be in order. What’s really bugging you at work? Can things change for the better? I recommend taking serious stock and sorting your thoughts before you leap over that proverbial “cubicle wall”.
A few ideas to gain some perspective:
What can I do to salvage my current role? Feel free to take control of the situation at any time. Start by taking a long hard look at all of the the forces that are really operating. Sometimes it can seem easier to throw up your hands and say ” I am done!”, instead of investing more mental energy into an already frustrating situation. However, if you don’t, this can simply become a short-sighted method to avoid a situation which might include conflict (and feeling uncomfortable). If you leave – before you have had a least one solid conversation with your boss - it’s entirely possible that you are taking the easy way out.
What is it about my current role that really bothers me? Is it a problem with a specific co-worker? Not enjoying the work? It’s amazing how you may not have had a real conversation with yourself about the specific reasons you are unhappy. Make a list of the possible contributors to your feelings. Rank order them in terms of importance. Label the top 2 or 3 as “deal breakers.” Take the “deal breakers” that you have identified and meet with your supervisor to discuss them. Start a dialogue. You may find a way to resolve the issues and love your job again.
Are there personal reasons that may be affecting my opinion? Stress in other areas of your life can spill over into your work life. In general, try not to make career decisions when other things in your life are in flux. If possible, let some time pass before you consider a drastic change. Work-related decisions that are made during times of great stress, are generally poor decisions.
What is the state of opportunity in my field? Please, please, please look before you leap. If the market in your line of work still appears to be somewhat tight – stay put and work on modifying your current role. Want to expand your horizons? Prepare for a “career pivot” and arrange for an “in-house” mini internship within your organization. This is a great way to acquire a new skill. Know an inspiring coworker? Ask to make that person your mentor and move forward in that way, while staying put for just a while longer.
It is true that being happy at work can greatly enhance your life – and change just may be the only avenue to achieve this. However, examine the aspects of your work that you may be able to revise, before you take the leap.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.