There are numerous reasons why someone may choose to leave a job. But today, I’m going to share some clear warning signs that indicate you may be in a place that could be detrimental to your personal and professional life.
I’m not saying seeing one of these signs means you should immediately leave your job. Having said that, if you consistently notice more than one of these indicators, it’s time to start planning for your next move.
Unstable future of the company
Has the company been losing money for a while? Maybe they lost a major investor?
Are they unable to pay your salary on time? That’s a major indicator.
Or are you aware of an upcoming merger/acquisition? If you are, it’s a good time to make alternative plans.
The problem with instability is that you often have no prior knowledge or control before things become much worse, such as layoffs, restructuring, business closures, etc.
Some people take a passive approach, thinking (or hoping) that the situation will somehow improve with time. Or they believe that their job will be safe even through merger & acquisition.
Sure it’s possible that the situation MAY improve (even if it’s quite rare), but why would you want to take that chance? Also, an acquisition for a company is too significant of an event that no one can accurately predict what will happen to the employees. I have seen so many candidates who thought their job was safe because their managers told them so but later found out even their manager has lost their job during the acquisition process.
You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you are suddenly out of a job and have to look for a new opportunity under a tremendous amount of pressure. You never know what the market situation will be like. And most likely, you will not be able to put in the necessary preparation leading to less than satisfactory offers and hasty decisions.
Excessive Workload - Affecting your health & relationships
"Picture this: you're drowning in work, constantly under pressure, always tired, and feeling completely overwhelmed. It's not just a busy day or a hectic week; it's become the norm for months or even years. When your workload becomes too much to handle with no sign of improvement, it is probably a clear sign that you should seriously consider finding a new job.
And it’s not only the amount of work. It could be due to constant travel and night calls (which often happens in Asia with multinational firms).
The worst part is the impact goes beyond the office walls. Excessive workload can take a toll on your physical and mental health. A prolonged and heightened stress level can lead to chronic fatigue, anxiety, and long-term illness. What’s the point if, after all your work & sacrifice, you can’t even enjoy the benefit due to poor health?
Not only that, relationships can suffer too, as you're constantly preoccupied with work, neglecting the people who matter most.
Ultimately, too much workload robs you of happiness and fulfillment. You deserve a job that you can ensure your well-being and lead a healthy work-life balance."
Remember, you do not live so you can have a career. Instead, you go to work so that you can have a life.
The amount of workload or level of flexible arrangements often varies greatly depending on the individual company (and team), even in the same industry. You owe it to yourself to explore available options so you don’t have to be stuck in a position with long-term negative effects.
You’re forced to go against your conviction.
If your company or your boss asks you to engage in an illegal or questionable activity, it’s a clear warning sign.
"If you find yourself in a situation where your employer repeatedly asks you to compromise your core values and convictions – not just a one-time request but a consistent demand against what you believe in, it’s time to start looking for something new.
First, it could put you in a situation where you may have to face legal implications with severe consequences. There could also be reputational damages that may create serious professional ramifications.
But even if not for legal reasons, being forced to engage in actions that clash with your personal values will eat away at your integrity, especially if the actions could bring harm to others (whether it be emotionally or financially).
Going against your convictions could also take a toll on your long-term mental well-being and self-esteem which not only impact your professional life but rather in all areas of life including emotional/mental health, relationships, and others.
You will never be able to become genuinely proud of what you do, find true satisfaction or long-term motivation. Rather you will always be bothered by constant guilt or fear that someone will find out).
Remember, your values matter, and you deserve to work in an environment that respects them. Don't compromise your integrity for a job that forces you to abandon who you are."
Low morale / high turnover rate
Another warning sign to watch out for is an unusually high turnover rate. When a company experiences unusually high attrition, with employees leaving frequently, it's a red flag that something isn't right. It could be poor management, limited growth opportunities, or an unhealthy work culture.
A company with low morale struggles to attract and retain top talent, putting it at a competitive disadvantage. And as talented individuals leave, the burden falls on the remaining employees, leading to increased pressure and workload and decreased commitment.
It’s unlikely these problems will go away anytime soon, which means the longer you stay, the more time you will end up wasting.
Low retention rate is probably the most accurate and direct indication of the company culture and the employee satisfaction rating.
You are not being rewarded or appreciated for your work
Proper recognition is more than just a pat on the back; it's a vital motivator that fuels job satisfaction and boosts morale. When your efforts consistently go unrewarded and unnoticed, it can lead to increased job dissatisfaction, not to mention the absence of financial rewards such as salary increases, bonuses & incentives.
But it’s not only about rewards. If your contribution is not valued, it will directly affect your growth opportunities and progression, which can lead to career stagnation in the long run. It’s a lose-lose situation.
You deserve to work in an environment where you can make a tangible contribution, add true value and be rewarded for your effort. It’s only natural and fair both to yourself and the employer.
And of course, finding a new job may not be the only solution. There are other things you can do such as learning to market yourself, and seeking opportunities to work directly with the management or key stakeholders. But if these efforts do not work out or are not feasible, it may be time you bring your contribution to an organization that knows how to value it.
You are no longer learning or growing anymore
Do you feel that you’re not learning or growing anymore? It could just be the time to start updating your resume.
Many people in such a situation think they should stay because there is no urgent push factor or a major impetus to leave.
But this is a big mistake. Spending too much time in an environment where there is no learning or growth will lead to wasted time, loss of competitive advantage, and hindrance to your career growth and even setting your career backward.
One day, you may find yourself stuck in the same role, or worse, without a job, but unable to find a new opportunity because you have not developed relevant new skills or have fallen behind in competition compared to other professionals in the same field.
You see, the best way to ensure your career stability is to be so good at what you do and continuing to build your expertise so that you will always be sought after. If you are in an environment where you cannot learn or grow anymore, that is when you begin to lose your competitive edge.
Of course, there are other options you can pursue too. You could create your own learning opportunities by taking on new responsibilities or looking for internal mobility opportunities. The point is that you want to always be in a situation where you can continue to make progress.
Toxic Employer (And the last warning sign is a toxic work environment)
And the last warning sign is a toxic work environment. If you find yourself in a situation where there is verbal or emotional abuse, calling you names, yelling, especially in public, stealing a colleague’s work, undue pressure, or discrimination, it’s time to start looking for other options.
Look, life is too short to spend it in a toxic environment or under the tyranny of a toxic boss. If you feel trapped in such a situation, you don’t have to be. Remember that you deserve better and that other opportunities are available for you.
You can check out my other articles for practical tips that will help you get noticed by more employers and lead you to more offers.