Three Signs It’s Time To Leave Your Job

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John M. O’Connor (Career Pro Inc.) is a multi-year career coach, outplacement and career services leader based in North Carolina. 

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Many very tough decisions must be made before you voluntarily leave a job, but there are times when you must, despite the hit to your finances or your ego.

Here are some of the best reasons to leave a job, a boss or an opportunity much sooner rather than later.

Your Health Is Compromised

If your life has been made miserable by your job and it’s not a temporary setback, it’s time to consider a change.

I got a call one day that stunned me, even with 20-plus years delivering career services. It was a potential client’s son who had informed me his father had passed away. He had been working five years with no vacation, no less than 60-plus hours a week, and had missed doctor’s appointments for a heart condition.

Another client developed diabetes and hair loss. Two years later with just one doctor visit and lifestyle changes, she was healthy again. According to her, “It was my job, my boss.”

Nothing related to your health, especially serious conditions, warrant you staying overworked and in an environment that affects your mental, physical or spiritual well-being, especially long-term. Those with a great work ethic — in many cases, Baby Boomers — never want to quit or ghost an employer. But when it’s your health at risk, get healthy or get out. 

The Organizational Culture Is Toxic

“Toxic” may be an overused and misunderstood diagnosis, but for this example, I mean the business and its people are in a constant state of dysfunction, fear and chaos. Look around. Is your company’s core value “We value our greatest asset: our people” yet when you look around, nobody lives up to that motto? Slogans are not core values, but words and actions are.

One of my recent outplacement clients explained their culture this way: “When you wanted something done, you had to spend time with the boss partying. That meant you were with him drinking, carrying on and disparaging other people at the company. ‘What’s done in Vegas stays in Vegas’ was his motto, and he lived up to it.”

Everybody experiences some level of toxicity and discomfort at work, but if your boss is constantly held unaccountable by his superiors and the company culture continues to permit toxicity, it’s time to leave. Are there times when you can discuss changes with or report issues to human resources? Sure, but look at the way the organization is run from the top down.

Organizational Ethics Are Compromised

This can be a tough one to discern, given that bad things happen to good companies and poor decisions aren’t always made at once.

An example of poor organizational ethics comes from several of my clients over the years, who were representing companies that carried lines of products that were bad for people, and these companies clearly knew it. Nevertheless, they had no intention to stop selling the products despite growing evidence.

The point? Don’t wait until your company faces a lawsuit. You don’t want to represent a company that lies or avoids doing the right thing. You have to live with your decisions, and if you have to decide between what’s right and your paycheck, car payment or your retirement, make the right decision early on by leaving that organization. You may not be included in the lawsuit, but your integrity should be more important.

In my many years counseling people in their career journey, it can be mentally and physically painful to choose to leave your job. Even your family may not understand why you’re leaving. But if your decision is based on your core values, your standards and your analysis of your own mental, physical and spiritual health, then do it and don’t look back. 

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John M. O'Connor

John M. O’Connor

John M. O’Connor (Career Pro Inc.) is a multi-year career coach, outplacement and career services leader based in North Carolina. Read John M. O’Connor’s full executive profile here.