Every career has ups and downs, but what about those jobs where you feel unappreciated, out of touch, or just don’t get along with your boss? There are a number of reasons why you might not like your job, but no matter the reason, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. If you are unhappy at work, there are three things you can do:
Make it better. Pull together your complaints and issues and bring them to your manager or coworkers in a thoughtful and respectful manner. The key to a successful conversation like this is to not just complain, but to offer solutions of how the situation can be resolved. If, for instance, you feel underutilized, clearly explain how you feel and provide examples that support your case, such as a big project that passed you by or a log of how you spend your time. Then suggest ways to improve the situation, such as offering projects that would be a good fit for you or suggesting workplace committees you could join or tasks you could adopt. Be prepared for some pushback from your boss and try to stay calm and collected. If you are prepared and level-headed, you can likely improve the situation and stay in your current role.
Move somewhere else in the company. A common cause of workplace unhappiness is a lack of cohesiveness or chemistry with your manager or coworkers. You don’t necessarily have to be best friends with your peers, but if the environment in your department is hurting your career, it could be best to move to another area. In fact, not getting along with a boss is the leading cause of people leaving their current positions. Many organizations, especially larger companies, like to keep employees and move them to different departments instead of taking the time and money to hire a completely new employee. Ask around and see if there is a place you can move within the organization, such as a new department or office location. You still get to maintain the consistency of working for the same company, but a fresh change of scenery and officemates could be what it takes to make you happy at work.
Quit. As a last resort, you might just need to cut your losses and move to a completely new company or industry. If things in your office are so bad they can’t be repaired, it could be time to move on. Your work hours take up the majority of your day, so the work and the environment should be something you enjoy. Quitting shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it requires a lot of preparation. Think things through and don’t make a drastic decision. Take time to look into different options and perhaps even have something else lined up before you give your two-weeks notice. Try to be classy about your departure, even if you are completely frustrated, so that you don’t burn any networking bridges. If you quit your job, you’re in good company–a growing number of people are walking away from their positions. It’s your career, so take charge and make sure it is giving you a sense of purpose and helping you meet your goals.
The good news is that the future of work provides a variety of career opportunities and ways to discuss workplace unhappiness. As more offices move towards a flatter structure, it should be easier for employees to voice their concerns and frustrations. And if all else fails, there are plenty of freelance and full-time options available. Lasting unhappiness at work can and should be fixed by doing one of these three options.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, March 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here.