Why Do People Stay in Unpleasant Jobs?

January 3, 2022

Why Do People Stay in Unpleasant Jobs?

We’ve all been there. Jobs where you hate to get up in the morning, where Monday is a life sentence and Friday only a temporary reprieve. It can be bad for any number of reasons: a ruthless boss; a toxic work environment; boring assignments; or stupid company rules. The list can be endless and varied. But all unpleasant.

Sapping hope

One universal affects not only your work life but also your will to take action to get out of it: a bad job saps hope. Your boss, in word and deed, communicates that you are a miserable incompetent. Much as you might refute it, the contempt has crept into your psyche and makes you half-believe that nobody else would hire you. The toxic work environment has caught you in a web of constant back watching and heading off attacks so you forget other work places can be healthier. The boring or unsatisfying work dulls you so that your best is as little as you can get away with and you have no energy to find better work. Over time, your confidence and ability to take action to get out are drained. It is the most pernicious damage a bad job can do.

People caught in this trap can dismiss the possibility of getting out with a sometimes glib justification—a bad economy, better the devil you know—rather than really shaking out the reason to see if it actually justifies staying put.

Which of these make you stay in an unpleasant job?

So, with the help of the list below, identify why you’re staying in this job (you may have more than one reason). Then, use the hyperlink to work through whether it is legitimately holding you back or it’s the bad-job-hopelessness doing the talking.

  • I don’t have the right work skills. This is always a stunner. However, is this really true? That you could not move to another job in another company doing similar work?
  • The money is good. Obviously, everyone needs a living wage. However, beyond this point, can you pay too much for the great pay check?
  • The devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Moving to a new job can feel like a leap into the unknown. And there’s no assurance the new job will be any better than this one. Why chance it?
  • The economy is bad. But the economy is always going to be somewhat unstable so how do you know whether to factor this into your decision?
  • I’m already in the best/most prestigious company in the industry. This may be true even if the work environment stinks. Should you just grin and bear it because any move would be a step down?
  • I like my colleagues. You might hate the boss and the work but your work colleagues are like family. Isn’t that worth putting up with the other stuff?
  • The job is convenient. It’s an easy commute, it’s close to day-care, they aren’t fussy about getting into work on time, they have a great cafeteria. If the job is not the center of your universe, these may be compelling reasons to stay. So are you stuck with the cruddy job?
  • There is a career path. Promotion is possible in the company. Eventually and if you kiss the right rings. But it’s there. Isn’t that worth sticking around for?

If you’ve worked through whether your reasons to stay are legit or whether they are bad-job-hopelessness talking by using the hyperlinks above, you may have decided that you should try to get out of the job. But easier said than done. Once I’ve posted the posts for the hyperlinks above, I’ll discuss how to make the move out of a bad job.

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