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Reasons surrounding quitting a job can be numerous and extremely personal. The actual process of quitting a job is nerve-wracking, and a conversation that most people dread. However, working for an employer that promotes a toxic work environment, doesn’t appreciate hard work, or belittles and shames is more difficult than a hard conversation. Nothing quite compares to quitting a bad job. The feeling of relief afterward will be immeasurable.

Finding a dream job, to only realize that the company isn’t a good fit is crushing. Deciding for personal or health reasons that the job isn’t benefiting you or the company anymore is a decision most people don’t take lightly. When advanced education or certification is involved the decision is even tougher. We’ve all likely been there though. In 2019, more people quit their jobs than in previous years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we all know what happened in the spring of 2020.

Maybe the job is in a chosen career or maybe the job is just a job (to make money to pay rent). Whatever the case, when contemplating quitting a job, make a pros and cons list and go through our checklist to make a difficult decision a little easier.

In any job, there will be varying levels of stress—it's just kind of a given. Depending on the type of work, the stress level may be insurmountable. In the time of COVID-19, the stakes are higher than ever, and health and safety should be a top priority. Other deal-breakers that top the checklist include toxic work environments, companies that are unethical, and unsafe environments.

1. Is it a Toxic Working Environment?

Moody boss complaining team about mistake in workplace concept. Businessman managers pointing out mistake to his team. Toxic work environment concept

If you haven’t worked in a toxic environment, count yourself lucky. However, if you’ve ever had a boss regularly slam doors, yell as their default voice level, and demean and embarrass employees during staffing meetings, then you know how a toxic work environment can affect the workers. It’s awful to witness (even worse to bear the brunt), unfair, and unprofessional, but it happens. Although there may be great coworkers at the organization, the toxic work environment, especially when it comes from the top, can be unbearable and can seep its way into everyone’s psyche.

While a screaming, ridiculous, scary boss or manager is somewhat extreme, toxicity can be more subtle especially in an office environment. According to Business Insider, a few tell-tale signs that it’s a toxic work environment include: no clear vision for the company, biases that run rampant, low energy from coworkers from burn-out, and underperformers getting by with no consequences or steps to improve their performance. If these things are happening, office morale will likely be nonexistent. When dreading going to work on a daily basis, it may be time to look for employment elsewhere.

2. Does the Company Encourage Unethical Practices?

hands hold white paper with word unethical

Ethics in the workplace encompass honesty and integrity. Ethics are what guides the company with respect to its moral obligations. In recent years big businesses have been caught allowing or encouraging unethical practices. Unsurprisingly, some smaller companies walk the line between unethical practices and outright encourage shady behavior.

If the company or field as a whole has a code of ethics, look to it when questioning whether something is unethical or not. Speak up when something is wrong. It takes emotional intelligence, confidence, and strength to confront injustices, but you’ll likely feel better when it’s been called it out. If met with resistance or having gone to the top of the company to no avail, it may be time to look for other employment. Leaving an unethical company will be beneficial for future employment.

3. Is the Company Stuck in the Past?

Cheerful vintage secretary working at office desk and smiling at camera

A company that is stuck in the past can be annoying, but can also impede productivity and efficiency. Using outdated practices or equipment can be detrimental to the workers and ultimately the consumers of the products or services that the company provides.

Especially in the time of COVID-19, taking advantage of technology, and providing the opportunity to work remotely should be an option. Several tech companies have remote work options, but some jobs require being there in-person. Regardless, if a company is not interested in changing its ways even for the sake of efficiency, it may be time to take a look at other options. Some companies use an inordinate amount of paper and other materials that typically aren’t needed in today’s workplace. Environmentally conscious businesses are always evolving and finding ways to become more sustainable and socially aware.

4. Does the Company Turn a Blind Eye to Discrimination or Harassment?

woman holding paper that says #MeToo

Discrimination and harassment have no place anywhere, especially at work. The restaurant industry is a breeding ground for gender discrimination and in particular sexual harassment. The Time's Up Movement has recently backed several lawsuits in regards to this issue.

Whatever the industry, if a company is complicit in allowing discrimination or harassment to take place, speak up, and speak out. Take the company to court and own it by the end of the trial. Do whatever is needed to take care of your mental and physical health if experiencing harassment. Quit the job (or don’t), file a suit, know your rights, seek therapy, and know that in the end speaking up will help future employees.

5. Is There Opportunity for Advancement/Growth?

Upset indian female worker sitting at desk in office looking at pc screen feels unhappy and shocked. Millennial hindu woman reading unpleasant notification having system fault and big troubles concept

We all want to know that when we start a job that growth and ultimately advancement is possible. Promotions, salary increases, and better benefits are all reasons to consider before taking or quitting a job. Do the benefits include holidays, several week-long vacations, great medical insurance, and a matching 401k? Sometimes benefits can outweigh an annoying coworker, not ideal work hours, or working on the weekend.

If employers aren’t interested in helping their employees learn new skills, increase their knowledge, and broaden their scope of practice, they probably don’t have their employee's best interests in mind. Also, if a qualified, interested, and capable person is continually looked over for promotions, then a conversation should be had with the employer, and ultimately a new job should be considered.

6. Is the Environment Unsafe?

Worried executive woman checks thermometer wearing mask in covid-19 quarantine sitting on a desk at the office

Safety should be at the forefront of a company's ethos. Since 1970 when Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) working conditions have improved dramatically. However, some companies still put their employees at risk.

It's important to work for a company that takes the latest precautions and COVID-19 guidelines seriously. Potentially life-saving guidelines include wearing masks, having proper ventilation and enough room to socially distance, and the opportunity to work remotely. Unfortunately, COVID-19 guidelines are just that and may not be enforced. However, depending on your state, there may be measures to take. Michigan for example, may take action against an employer depending on the circumstances. If you feel unsafe in the workplace for any reason, you can file a complaint through OSHA.

7. Do the Negatives Outweigh the Positives?

Young woman her head at office desk in front of laptop, feeling ruined, suffer from anxiety, about to attempt suicide, pregnancy, end of a working day, exhausted and unable to manage her emotions

Sometimes the negatives build up and become too numerous to stay in a job any longer. An unreasonable workload can increase stress at an already stressful job. Employers who don’t provide feedback can make a job seem impossible. When employers aren’t flexible or don’t provide support, the overall experience may be awful.

Whenever you feel as though your expertise and skills may be more appreciated elsewhere, it’s typically important to find elsewhere first. Quitting a job with nowhere to go is usually not recommended. Reach out to your network to find different opportunities, bide your time, and hopefully, the best next job will be just around the bend.

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