how to know you should quit your job

The Quit Questionnaire: These 5 Questions Hold the Answer to Whether You Need a New Job

Caroline Beaton

If you hate your job, or even if you’re just disengaged, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at least once: how do I know if I should quit?

I poured through hundreds of kununu reviews from disgruntled employees who left their jobs and reached five conclusions about when leaving is warranted (and sanity-saving).

If you like your general field but dislike your specific job, here are five questions to ask yourself:

1) Is your company acting unethically?

The easiest way to determine whether you should quit is if your company violates basic moral principles.

One reviewer wrote that his company Eurest Dining’s “policy” consisted of “it’s easier and cheaper to pay fines than comply with environmental laws,” and that his boss laundered money. A healthcare worker left because she “witnessed too many HIPPA violations and human rights violations.” Yet another brought up safety concerns in meetings before and even after accidents but “they were all ignored.”  

If the company you work for “insults [your] integrity,” as one University of Phoenix employee put it, don’t waste time hoping for a magic shift in values. Of all business elements, ethics are the most important but the hardest to change – especially for a single employee.

 

2) Are you roadblocked?   

Lack of career advancement opportunities is one of the most prevalent reasons kununu reviewers left their jobs. One worker at the Reputation Institute described a company’s insufficient growth opportunities as, “many employees felt like they were working themselves into a black hole that led nowhere.” Another at MEM Tea Imports similarly stated that he felt he had “nowhere to go. I was not allowed to learn anything bigger in the company or take on more responsibility.”

Companies that “keep you down,” as one FS Facility Services worker phrased it, need to be avoided or abandoned.

What’s tricky about advancing, however, is knowing when you should be promoted, and when to be patient; when your company is withholding an earned reward, and when they’re appropriately postponing additional responsibility until you prove yourself.

One way to tell the difference is to see if others are in the same boat by asking around or reading the company’s kununu reviews to spot patterns. If the company hires most managers and senior positions from the outside, that’s a sign you may be stuck. If there are no such signs, especially if it’s early in your career or tenure at the company, be patient and focus on your performance rather than why you haven’t been promoted.

 

3) Are you not cared about?

If you are cared about, you’ll feel supported by management, have opportunities to learn skills or take on new responsibility, and be offered projects to showcase your value. As one Comcast employee raved, “[M]y direct supervisors cared about my success … Each supervisor would work with their subordinate one-on-one if needed, and always offered tools and mechanisms of support.”

Of course, we can’t expect everyone at work to care about us, or even to like us. But, as one worker at Anderson Counseling Services summed, “I had one or two supervisors who tried to downplay my creative style but two bad apples couldn’t spoil the show.”

The problem is when not caring becomes company culture. Some employees reported that management treated them like “cattle” and “animals,” “worse than dirt,” and “like I wasn’t even there.” One employee at Cfg Health Systems quoted management actually saying “everyone is expendable.

Not caring can also manifest as contempt. For example, one reviewer noted that “Ideas contributed in meetings may be laughed at in front of other team members.” Likewise, many reviewers commented on “destructive, scathing criticism” and insults from managers.

If you’re regularly disregarded and disrespected at work, and your reports have been ignored, this is a cue to pack to your bags.

 

4) Is communication unfixable?

kununu reviewers who experienced good communication reported weekly and monthly meetings, success sharing, and meetings with management to go over personal results in a positive, supportive way. One employee at OneExchange wrote about “how wonderful it is to know from day to day that you’re going to have the support you’ll need to accomplish any task at hand.” 

Poor communication, on the other hand, creates “an atmosphere of uncertainty and trepidation,” as one Verizon employee put it. Signs of systemic communication problems include inconsistency, misunderstandings, bottlenecked decision-making, out-of-touch management, incomprehensible attempts to communicate, unclear expectations, and not offering feedback. One employee at Homes.com described a culture where the staff were “the last to know and the first to support the issue.” In another office, employees at Argento SCCouldn’t talk to coworkers, even to ask work questions so everything had to be via email even if sitting right next to them.”

If communication is bad from just a few people, it’s an opportunity to talk to them about it or speak with HR, not throw up your hands. On the other hand, if you repeatedly address large-scale, debilitating communication issues with coworkers, bosses and HR and nothing happens, it’s probably time to move on.

5) Are you over-blaming others?

One employee at Western Michigan University complained that her company “flushed fifteen years of my life down the toilet. They used me, abused me, and made me feel awful, terrible, and utterly wretched.” She says that she would “curse and cry in turns,” but perhaps she should have expended this energy on finding a new job. Unless she was imprisoned, 15 years at the same miserable company were her own doing.

Another employee at Ray Brandt Dodge similarly lamented that “Most people get stuck working at the dealership because the managers rarely give people a day off to search for a new job.” Unless you’re literally working 24/7, there’s always time to apply for jobs outside of work – after hours or on weekends or holidays.   

Blaming others for your situation robs your agency and demotivates change.    

Explain to a close friend why you want to quit and ask them to point out blame statements. Be especially careful of the phrase “they play favorites.” Managers don’t maniacally try to make your life hard. They promote people who make their own jobs easier, who are easy to communicate with, who do great work, and who serve the company’s bottom line. If you’re not a “favorite,” it’s worth asking yourself why. Tell your friend to poke holes like this.   

Even if hating your job is 99% the company’s fault, take personal responsibility for what might be going wrong so you’re empowered to change it.  

 

These five questions boil down to one question: is your current situation changeable and within your control, or is it permanent, pervasive, and outside your influence?

Put another way, is this job a project or an effort pit? Projects are cases where employees can adjust their own work environment for a more rewarding experience, often with help from others. Effort pits are ingrained problems that are likely to linger or worsen no matter how many remedies you try. For instance, one employee went to HR at a cancer clinic about her toxic work environment and was told that “everyone knows it and it will not change.”

 

The takeaway? Cultural and systemic problems that many employees, if not the whole company, experience are good reasons to move on if they feel like impasses. Otherwise, if you like your line of work, improving your job may be within your control.

 

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Caroline Beaton (@cs_beaton) is kununu’s millennial career expert. She’s an award-winning writer and entrepreneur who helps ambitious millennials change their habits and behaviors to lead more fulfilling lives. Her writing has been has been featured in Forbes, Psychology Today, Business Insider and many others.