What Compels People To Stay At A Bad Job?

What Compels People To Stay At A Bad Job?

I have been extremely lucky  in my career to work with some truly amazing organizations, and more importantly, truly fabulous leadership. I have also had the beneficial experience of working in environments that are not-so-amazing. I consider myself fortunate to have only encountered a toxic company and their toxic leadership twice in my career. Both times I recognized my value and decided to move on to a new opportunity that would excite me and would allow me to be…me.  One of those experiences concluded in early 2015 and inspired me to create a “No Jerks Policy” for my career that I firmly stand behind to this day.

One of my favorite things about my work history and what I do is the fact that I have made so many meaningful connections and met so many people that I built fabulously robust professional relationships with. I absolutely love keeping in touch with former colleagues, business partners, and team members. I enjoy being a support for them and I try make myself a resource for them when they need someone to just listen or bounce ideas off of.  The challenge – for me – comes in when people who work in a toxic environment and choose to remain in that environment contact me to complain about the challenges they are experiencing. I am a big believer of owning one’s own destiny. I will rarely, in my personal or professional life, make myself available to people who simply want to kvetch about their situation but deliberately choose to allow it to continue.

There are certainly bad jobs out there – in all industries. Conversely, there are amazing roles in highly human and forward-thinking organizations. Though it would be nice for all organizations to deal in kindness and human leadership, that is not the reality. Typically, when we get caught up in a bad environment it is either that we took a position out of desperation or because we haven’t performed adequate/thorough research on the organization [or it’s leaders] prior to accepting the job offer – we, initially, begin by hating the organization and feeling disheartened by the leaders inside the company. Then we turn to hating ourselves for staying and allowing the company to make our lives miserable. We end up adopting the blame for the company’s poor results and the role we played [or didn’t play] – and in allowing this, we decrease our professional value. I have seen this occur too many times, especially in the last several years.

Top 7 Reasons That People Stay At Their Terrible Jobs

  1. They have friends that they work with
  2. It’s too much work to update their resume
  3. Friends/Family telling them to be happy/grateful they have a job
  4. They believe they perform a job that is critical to the business and things would fall apart if they left
  5. They’re using hope as a strategy that the issue(s) will improve if they just wait it out
  6. They fear that quitting will look bad on their resume
  7. They don’t want their boss to “win”

6 Signs You’re Too Good For Your Company

  • The Company Isn’t Trustworthy or Transparent: You cannot effectively support a company that doesn’t communicate where they are currently or where they want to go. When organizations require you perform your job without question, it devalues the employer | employee relationship. If the leaders you work for don’t think it’s worth their time to keep you in the know with the organization’s direction [or flat out lie to you about it], its progress, and impediments and most importantly – your own career path and other critical information; they are a lost cause.
  • You Are Asked To Stick Solely With Your Job Description: Your future marketability relies on your ability to upskill and innovate at work for best results. It’s the way we grow and develop our competencies and technical skills.  If your organization doesn’t want you to challenge yourself [or them], you are not working in a place that will benefit your resume or career in the long run.

  • The Workplace Doesn’t Value Innovation: When an organization and/or it’s leadership doesn’t solicit ideas/solutions to business obstacles or process improvements – that becomes a problem for smart, enthusiastic employees. Great employees want to help deliver solutions to the business and when you are met with indifferent silence or worse, essentially “shushed”, it should be a big sign that it is not a right place for you unless you are a committed follower. No one who knows their value would allow an organization to treat them poorly and shut them down when surfacing best practices.
  • Growth Initiatives Have Been Abandoned Both For You & By You: Not everyone is up for, or excited about, up-skilling and professional growth, but even fewer people are comfortable on the other end of the compass; zero learning opportunities and a stalled growth path. Today’s workplace and job market is all about your conveyable marketability and competencies. Employment monogamy is history – you need to be selfish and driven when it comes to your learning and development. If your current job doesn’t give you the learning experiences you need, there are plenty of other employers to choose from who will take an active interest and invest in your career path.

  • You Work For Unethical Jerks:  If the executives and senior leadership in the organization aren’t honest, authentic, and/or ethical and you choose to remain in that environment, you will quickly be assigned the same qualities. People who have self-respect and who value their reputation refuse to be aligned with creeps or creepy companies. All too often I have heard of the company “executives”, senior- and mid-level managers break people’s spirit by diminishing their value through blame and public embarrassment in an effort to make them feel as though no one else would want them and they aren’t worthy of anything better.
  • Your Intuition Is Telling You “There is More To Life Than This”: We HAVE to treat our intuition as a form of intelligence. If you hate waking up on Mondays to go back to work or you are up at night worried about what tomorrow may bring – it is time for change. Your body and mind are numb as it relates to your career. Monday’s should be amazing and your next work day should be something you are excited to dig into [and in healthy companies, enthusiasm around tomorrow exists]. Not listening to your intuition when you know something is wrong is a form of self-sabotage. I have spoken with people who were seized by anxiety, fear, and/or victimization and they lacked the intestinal fortitude to stand up for themselves. Their anxiety keeps them from reasoning through effective solutions and career strategies or finding the physical energy to make a much needed change. Don’t let this be you, please.

Personal Risks Involved By Remaining In A Terrible Job

Reports show that somewhere between 20% and 40% of employees hate their job. No amount of pay or inconvenience is worth staying at a job you hate, because the effect of going to that dreadful job every day is hurting your health and happiness.

  • Remaining In A Bad Job Can Lower Your Immune System: If you’re consistently being treated poorly, or if nothing you do at work is ever recognized and you spend your work days in constant state of frustration, worry, and sadness, it can have a very negative effect on your health. Studies have shown that workplace stress impairs the immune system and increases the risk of issues – such as, depression. Reducing anxiety is paramount to maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental health, and nothing impedes that more than spending a minimum of eight hours per day, five days per week [24%+ of your year] in an environment that you despise.

  • It Can Make You Gain Weight: [Yikes!] Studies have shown that an unhappy work life depletes you of the energy you need to exercise and make healthy eating choices. Whether it’s due to lack of energy to exercise or “stress” eating caused by the drain of your job, there is a strong correlation between weight-gain and work dissatisfaction.
  • Hating Your Job Can Destroy Healthy Sleeping Habits: If your job is disrupting your sleep, that’s a huge problem that is counter-productive to your health. The benefits of a getting a good night’s sleep are tremendous: elevated cognitive brain function and creativity, better physical health, and improved productivity. Not getting enough sleep can impair your vision, judgment, and reasoning.

  • It Can Damage Your Personal Relationships: Numerous studies have linked unhappiness at work with unhappiness in one’s personal life. It is natural for us to bring our work home with us, but when the majority of what we are bringing home is negativity, it can really bring our family and friends down and erode our personal relationships even if that’s not what was intended. Additionally, one study showed that people who are unhappy at work have less satisfying sex lives and more issues in their relationships and researchers have found an unequivocal link between a good relationship with your significant other and overall health.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | beth@excellencein-retail.com [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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