As the new year kicks off, is now the time to evaluate your career situation? It’s certainly a time of year when many people evaluate their lives, with jobs often being a focal point. It’s not an easy decision to make but knowing when to call it a day and move on can save you a huge amount of stress, potentially helping you to secure a position that pays better and is a better organizational fit for you.
It’s not always easy to separate your head from your heart to work out if you should move on from your current role. This could be because you’re comfortable in your job or you feel loyalty to your employer. However, there are undeniable signs that you are no longer in the right position.
One of the most obvious signs that you should be thinking about moving on is when you’re feeling bored at work. Professor Cynthia Fisher, of Australia’s Bond University, defines boredom as “state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in the current activity”.
She asserts that boredom at work is likely linked to job satisfaction. This highlights the fact that if you’re consistently bored at work, you’re likely not experiencing a great deal of job satisfaction. And if you’re not satisfied at work, it’s likely time to think about moving on.
Boredom does strike almost all workers at various points throughout their careers, so it’s important to be honest with yourself about how often you’re feeling this way. Staying in a job despite not being challenged or engaged with your work will lead to disinterest, which can result in poor performance and potential conflict with managers. This could then jeopardize your chances if you do decide to move on elsewhere, as well as bring you down outside of work.
If your employer is solely focused on profits, while you want to know that you’re doing good work for your community - or vice versa - your values are likely misaligned with your company’s. Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for this - your company probably isn’t going to change its mission statement or culture to satisfy one unengaged employee, and if you can’t shift your ideals to fit in then it may be time to look for a better fit.
Leadership Intelligence’s Carol Sachowski stated that “if an employee feels that their values differ from their company’s, they are likely to disengage from their work due to a lack of alignment”. Research by Gallup found that highly engaged teams are 21 percent more productive than those that aren’t, so the importance of remaining invested in your work is clear.
When you realize that your values are misaligned with your company’s, the best decision could be to seek out a new employer that shares your own values and opinions. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, writing for Fast Company, “the value of seemingly universal career incentives, like high pay or a high-status title, wears off pretty quickly”. He explained that in order to stay engaged at work, and to work “more effectively”, you should be invested in what you do.
He added that “one of the keys to feeling engaged at work is aligning your own idiosyncratic values with those of your organization, your team, and your direct manager - when you’re all working together towards something you believe in”.
Seeing your co-workers praised for the same work you’re doing, while you barely get a nod of recognition, is a frustrating reality for many workers. It can cause you to feel unappreciated and as if you’re not making any valuable contributions to your organization.
The Muse’s Cory Miller has told workers that “if your boss refuses to acknowledge and commend your accomplishments, that can also be a sign that you’re not going to be promoted or given adequate opportunities to advance”. This should certainly prompt you to begin thinking about moving on.
Meanwhile, if your manager doesn’t think there are opportunities for you to progress, this is a huge red flag - one that you should be acting on. If you’re worried about stagnation, then beginning a job search could maintain your career momentum. According to career expert Alison Doyle, committing to a company that won’t support your career progress “will end up hindering the development of your career in the long run”.
when should you stay?
Moving on might not be the only solution to unhappiness at work, though. It’s important to recognize whether you’re experiencing a temporary blip - when the possibility for improvement is reasonable - or you’re chronically lacking in job satisfaction.
If you conclude that it’s temporary, one of the first things you should do is to sit down with your manager and discuss your concerns. They might be surprised by your admissions and happy to make changes, particularly if you come prepared with suggestions to make yourself happier as well as provide value to the organization. This could include putting yourself forward for new projects, which could then boost your engagement and help to develop your skills in new areas.
If your biggest problem is that you’re not being recognized for your important work, why not kick off this trend yourself? Annie McKee, author of ‘How to Be Happy at Work’, told the Harvard Business Review that workers should become the “agent of change” at your company by showing appreciation for co-workers. This will likely encourage them to “return the favor”, McKee added.
Ultimately, the decision about whether to stay at your current job or look for a new opportunity will be based on whether you think moving on will be the only way to achieve your career goals.