Having problems at work? Feel like quitting? This blog post will examine why it’s rarely a good idea to walk away from a job in the heat of the moment, or indeed because of problems in the workplace that are building up.
Rewind 10 years, and I did exactly that. I had a minimum wage job following a redundancy and the negative impact of that job was quite substantially affecting my quality of life alongside some personal issues that I had at the time. The combination of stress due to home and work was awful. I endured the job for six months, but it felt like a lifetime. I was contracted for 16 hours, but working 30 hours, so when it came to taking time off I couldn’t afford to take holidays as I would only get paid for 16 hours. When I started I gave my new employer my P45, but the manager failed to pass this on and I didn’t realise it at the time but the whole time I was there I was paying emergency tax (which I did get back but I needed it at the time, not 8 months later). The manager changed my hours on a weekly basis without consulting with me and this impacted on my childcare. The final straw for me came when the manager changed my hours so that I was only working at times where I had to pay for childcare and not when the children were in school. In tears I walked out of the workplace. Thankfully, it didn’t impact on my life negatively but only because I had managed to secure a new job and was waiting for a start date which happened just a few weeks later. So walking away from this job might have been a disaster, but actually wasn’t!
I’ve been in other situations too, where people have told me that I couldn’t possibly return to work due to the impact the stress of the situation would have on my health. But I did go back and I handled it so that I managed to make the situation as positive as it possibly could be under the circumstances. The impact on my health was detrimental but if I hadn’t done it the long term consequences would have been enormous.
So, if you’re having problems at work, it’s important not to walk away but to use the policies and procedures of the organisation (also a requirement of the law) to ensure your position is strong when you do leave. You must follow the policies (even if the company fails to) and ensure that you continue to do your job to the best of your ability. Take notes of situations that arise as this might become necessary in the future as evidence.
If you work for a reputable company, then chances are that they will be as keen to put the situation right as you are. However not all companies follow the guidelines they should and in these circumstances it is vital that you protect yourself as much as you are able to. Your work impacts every aspect of your life so it’s important to be in a role that suits your circumstances as well as your values.
You can get free, independent advice from ACAS and it’s also a good idea to gain support from others around you, for example friends and family. However, remember that the situation is confidential so it’s also important to ensure that you stay within the parameters of confidentiality.
Whilst you are in the midst of problems in the workplace, it can be a very stressful and intense environment. After all, it is one of the few situations you are unable to remove yourself from without severe consequences. If there is an argument at home it is easy to go into another room to calm down, but it’s not always possible at work – depending on the circumstances of your job.
There is usually a way of leaving your job without walking away from it. If you walk away, you walk away from the security of the income stream you have had, you risk a negative reference when you apply for other jobs and you almost certainly will struggle with claiming benefits. I advise my clients on this basis – as the old saying goes,
it’s easier to find a new job if you are working already.