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Is it time to leave your job? Take the test

Handy flow chart and advice on what to do if you’re unhappy at work.

The pursuit of the proverbial ‘dream job’ can take us to many exciting places. Occasionally, that journey takes you to a role that, well, you just don’t love.

But it’s easy to jump the gun when you’re unhappy in your current role. Often, a little patience can make all the difference — but how can you know for sure?

Call answering service CallCare has put together a useful flowchart (see below) to help you determine whether it’s really time to throw in the towel or whether there’s still life in your job yet.

Is it just me?

When you’re unhappy in your role, you need to determine whether it’s the role itself, the company culture, the people you work with or even your personal outlook on things.

CallCare outlined some key warning signs to look out for — and what you can do to determine whether or not it’s time to move on…

1. I’m not learning anything
Our brains crave novelty. We’re always looking for something new, which is why you might find yourself looking at other roles even if you once enjoyed your current job.

If you’re not learning anything at work and hit a plateau in your job, you’ll only get more and more disengaged until it’s noticeable in your output. If you reach that point, leaving might not be your decision anymore.

However, if there are opportunities to learn something new at your current job that you’re not taking, ask yourself: why not?

Often, it can seem like extra work, or the lack of certainty around what to do can put us off. But you should trust that, though it’ll require a little more effort, the novelty of learning a new skill will energise you and reignite the passion you once felt.

2. Work is making me ill
Do you take a lot of sick days? Work could be making you stressed.

When you’re in situations of constant stress — maybe you’re overworked or you have to navigate a tricky relationship with your boss — you’re more prone to getting sick. That’s because your body focuses all of its energy on providing adrenaline for your ‘fight or flight’ reflex, and it has to suppress your immune system to do so.

Before you quit due to health reasons, ask yourself: when was the last time you took a holiday? Removing yourself from your work environment for a week or two gives your body enough time to recover from all the stress that’s piled up over the months and months you’ve clocked in every day. When you return, you’ll feel refreshed. You might find that the things that stressed you out don’t worry you as much, as you’ll be in a better head space to deal with them.

Oh, and don’t forget to exercise! It reduces stress and helps you focus, so you’re less likely to get behind on work. That means fewer high-stress appraisals for you to endure.

3. My boss doesn’t care about me
It can be disheartening if it feels like your boss doesn’t care whether or not you’re happy at work. A good manager needs to take the time to check in with their team and find out what they can do to improve things for them in the office, whether that’s by reducing the workload or finding opportunities for them to grow.

If this type of support isn’t available to you, then it might be time to find a company with values that match your own.

However, you shouldn’t leave without addressing these concerns with your boss first. It might come as a surprise to them; if you’re naturally quiet, they might have believed you were quite content. Be clear with them about what you want. You might find that they’re more than willing to give it to you: all you had to do was ask.

4. I don’t get paid enough
While some people live to work, the majority of us work to live. While job satisfaction is a big deal, our main motivation is earning money to support ourselves and our families. So if your current job doesn’t provide the salary you think you deserve, it might be time to search elsewhere.

However, if you’re leaving primarily because of pay, explain your concerns to your employer before you make any firm decisions. If you’re a good worker, you’ll probably find that they’re more than willing to negotiate a salary that better reflects the quality of your work.

Even if their offer can’t meet the sum you’ll get elsewhere, you may still be better off when you consider the impact a new job might have on your commute or how much annual leave you get. At the very least, make sure you have that conversation.

5. No one else likes it here
Even the most motivated employee can be worn down by a toxic work environment. If tensions are high and staff satisfaction is low, it might be best to start looking for a workplace that’s going to energise rather than drain you.

However, be aware that it’s easy to project negativity outwardly when we feel it ourselves. Think about the people you’re talking to at work. Are they negative about work and influencing your perception? Or are there individuals who impact team morale and cause disruption and upset?

Try to identify the cause or source of the negativity, and if possible, speak to your manager about it. They could be unaware of the unrest and find a way to resolve it.

When morale is low, it spreads like wildfire. Bringing a team back together is one of the best ways to get the positivity and good vibes back on track.

Should I stay or should I go?

There always comes a time when you need to move on, and often, it marks the beginning of a bright new season in your career. If the time is right, make sure you leave on good terms — no matter how ready you are to leave, you should always keep things professional.

That way, you’ll have a positive reputation that precedes you wherever you go.