What to do when you hate your job

When I was doing my research on 2013 job satisfactions stats in US and Europe I found that different reports for same regions show diametrically opposed findings: from 80% of employees hating their jobs to 81% actually being quite satisfied.


Of course such a contradiction in results is explained by type of variables taken in the account (salary, work-life balance, work environment, relationships with management and colleagues) and difference in an employees sample tested (by industry, company, job type, time of the week survey has been taken and mood of the employee at this particular moment).


As Mark Twain used to say: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics“[i]


Taking into consideration results of several reports[ii] in 2013 the rough average was fluctuating in the 50/50 area. I guess the results of 2014 will be quite similar.


But I propose to drop unreliable stats and just do a short simple “Job hate” survey for yourself. Your colleagues, friends and family are welcome to participate.


Let’s go:

• Do you feel miserable on Mondays (together with the rest of the weekdays), love Fridays (especially 2nd half of the day) and hate Sunday evenings (obviously because next day is Monday)?

• Do you desperately wait for a weekend or holiday when you can forget about your work by mostly heavy parting, eating or doing other type of escapism?

• Do you find yourself often saying the following “but it pays well my living“?

• Do you dream at least several times a week about sudden extermination of your colleagues, bosses, partners or clients?


If you answered yes to at least to one of the questions, you most probably strongly dislike your job. If you ticked all four points, I guess the conclusion is obvious.

So you hate your job now what?

Well there are loads of people who year after year keep going and motivate themselves by “at least it pays my bills and living (or better say existence)”. With such an approach 90% of the time (except weekends and holidays of course) they feel stressed and meaningless.


What’s worse- staying at the job you hate can lead to burnout, depression and psychosomatic diseases, it even make you gain weight and drink way too much alcohol (hello escapism!).


If such a “bright” future does not appeal to you, then it’s definitely a time to act! Here is what you can do if you think you hate your job:


First of all, decide what is that you hate about your current job, just jot down a list of things that you are really not happy with. Usually these problems can be grouped in not being happy with 1) people, 2)responsibilities or 3)place where you work.


Below are some of the possible reasons of job hate that might apply to your situation:

• Is it because you don’t feel appreciated financially for what you do, while your less skilled colleagues get raise?
• Are your responsibilities not enough intellectually challenging?
• Do you lack work-life balance, by staying in the office till very late and taking work home for the weekend?
• Does your colleagues’ behaviour remind you more of one in a serpentarium or maybe circus?
• Is your boss a control freak and does way too much of micro-management?


Now, when you have defined exact problems, second thing to do is to find possible solutions to each of them. There are plenty of options you can try out before actual submission of your resignation.


Say, for example, you like the nature of your job, industry you work for and have no issues with company values.


However, you think that you are not remunerated sufficiently for what you do, have way too much work or vise versa not that many challenges.


The best way to start in this case is to have an honest and direct conversation with your boss.


• Explain the areas that you are happy with and the ones your not. Don’t give just the negative and get into the blaming mode, rather state how above issues make you feel less enthusiastic about the work that you like and position you want to develop in. Be open, calm and honest. Prepare what you want say and take your notes if you think you might forget to mention important topics.

• In case you want more money or career raise, state all your achievements, which you have made in last 1-3 years and explain their value (your value) to the company.

• Tell you boss that you made your research (actually do one prior to conversation) and found the ballpark salary figure and a position level for the specialist with your skills and experience. Say that as much as you like to continue to work for him/her, you feel undervalued and start to lose your motivation. Ask for possible solutions to be implemented it the next 1-3 months. Don’t be afraid to state that you are in the process of searching for other opportunities internally and /or externally.

• If you are bored of your responsibilities, ask for more challenging ones. If you feel you lose lots time on small mundane tasks that influence your more important activities, ask to delegate them to an intern.


Whatever it is you want: say how the absence of what you want makes you feel, how negatively it influences your productivity, state your value for the organisation, request a solution (or if you have idea about possible solution, propose one), explain the consequences of not getting it (you will be searching for another position).


You’ll be surprised what can be achieved with such a conversation alone. In most of the cases, manager perfectly understands value of an experienced employee and will prefer to provide what has been requested than investing into hiring and training somebody new.


I have examples of my career coaching clients who have received a higher salary, new challenging projects, level promotion etc. just by reminding their value to the manager and stating what it is that they want.


Interpersonal problems with your colleagues or managers are better to be dealt by HR. Explain to your HR responsible the issue and how it impacts your efficiency, productivity and overall well-being. Again don’t descent into “poor me, it’s all their fault” mode. In your first meeting just request for an external advice on how you could try to resolve situation by yourself.


If this does not help, have a second meeting and see what are your options (changing jobs internally, getting a temporary placement in another team, etc). If suitable solutions are not available, start to look for a new job somewhere else.


However if you actually hate what you do on daily basis, feel that your work is meaningless and prevents you spending quality time with your family, then it’s definitely time to look for something else.


In the end if you are constantly stressed and feel bad about your work, it poisons the rest of your life as well. It distorts your sleep, make you eat and drink more, even can ruin your relationship.


Seriously, no amount of money in the world is worth it. What’s the point of continuing this rat race?


So slow down, take sometime off if needed and decide what you want your next career move to be. When you make your decision-draw a plan on how you will achieve it. Listen to your gut here, in the end it’s your life, not your parents, friends, former university classmates.


• Do you need new skills and knowledge for your next move? Will you undertake additional training in the evenings or weekends?
• Would you like to work for a completely different type of company, for example for a NGO or a start-up?
• Would you like to create your dream job by starting you own business?

Hate your job but can’t quit?

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Image Courtesy of Graham Richardson

[i] The quote was popularised in the US by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881). However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli’s works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Other coiners have therefore been proposed, and the phrase is often attributed to Twain himself.

[ii] Kelly Services’ annual survey; Nature’s Salary and Satisfaction Survey; Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement, SHRM report; The Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey; UK Office for National Statistics Measuring National Well-being Programme.