Abusive Relationship with Your Job?

Hanging out in the dog park, pub, or standing in virtually any line, I overhear people complaining about how much they hate their job. When their friend asks, “So what are you going to do?” The complainer almost always responds with, “I don’t know. I can’t leave, and I don’t have time to find another job. Plus, who wants to go through that hassle again?”

How many Americans feel this way about their career or job? In September/October of 2013, Gallup came out with a poll that showed that unhappy employees outnumbered happy employees. 27% of the polled employees downright despised their jobs. Does this mean that one third of our nation has an abusive relationship with their job? They want to leave but are too afraid of the repercussions?

According to http://www.LoveIsRespect.org, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle, there are many reasons why people choose not to leave their abusive relationship. Tell me if these sound too similar to how employees feel about their job.

Fear: Your friend may be afraid of what will happen if they decide to leave the relationship…
Believing Abuse is Normal: If your friend doesn’t know what a healthy relationship looks like, perhaps from growing up in an environment where abuse was common, they may not recognize that their relationship is unhealthy…
Low Self-esteem: If your friend’s partner constantly puts them down and blames them for the abuse, it can be easy for your friend to believe those statements and think that the abuse is their fault…
Social/Peer Pressure: If the abuser is popular, it can be hard for a person to tell their friends for fear that no one will believe them or that everyone will take the abuser’s side…
Lack of Money: Your friend may have become financially dependent on their abusive partner. Without money, it can seem impossible for them to leave the relationship…

No joking around here, American’s clung to the jobs they hated for years during the recession because of many of these reasons above.
According to an article from the Journal Sentinel in July 2014, the “quit rate” usually is a good indicator of economic health. So when the economy tanked, the luxury of quitting for a better job looked grim, but when the economy is great, employees feel more confident to tell their boss, “It’s been real.” The quit rate is at it’s highest since 2009, but not nearly what it was in 2006 just before the weight of the economic crash squeezed the air out of middle-class lungs.

OK, so the quit rate is up, those employees feeling the grind is too painful to stay can follow the lemmings out the door, right? Not so fast. Leery victims of job hatred have reason to stick to the grind a little longer. Before the recession hit too hard, applicants could still expect job openings to leap at their feet. These days the job applicant to job opening ratio is high. According to the January 2014 Politifact article addressing numbers thrown around after Congress wouldn’t renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, there are three unemployed people per job opening. Now these are just the unemployed actively looking for new jobs, not accounting for actively employed unhappy employees desperately seeking a new situation, which can increase that ratio quite a bit. Take in addition to these numbers that almost half of new hires were positions filled without officially posting a new position and, well, maybe someone would number crunch their way back to 3 applicants per job opening. I find numbers to be so squishy. Human brains manipulate these numbers however they wish to see what they want to see.

The reality still stinks for the unhappily employed.

So what advice should a friend give the person who complains that they need to leave their job but are too afraid?
If one tweaks the advice provided by wikihow on how to leave an abusive relationship, the actions could be solid.

  1. Let go of what you think that job was supposed to mean. If you truly can’t make it work out for you, let go. Let go of your judgement of your boss, your coworkers, the company brand prestige. Who cares? Let go.
  2. Tell people you trust what is going on with you. Get it off your chest and feel the relief. You need a new job. You need a new path. You need to get out of your current situation and in another one. Ask colleagues to keep an eye and ear out for you. Ask for recommendations. But remember, in the end, it is YOU who have to make the best decisions for yourself. No one can do that for you.
  3. Change your routine. Get out of your rut. Do something that makes you feel good for the long term, like take a healing walk during your lunch break or better yet, schedule lunch meetings with those trustworthy connections mentioned above. Claim your time, your worth, and your priorities.
  4. Get to know yourself! If you don’t know what you want in a your next career or job, how are you going to prevent falling into just another job you hate?
  5. Take some time before jumping on the interview train. You want to feel confident, ready, and sure of yourself when you go for the next gig. Jumping too soon all frazzled, desperate, and worn out only hurts your chances for success when you really need to shine brilliantly with a great attitude and put your best foot forward. It’s one thing to want something new. The act of going out and getting it requires patience and preparation.

Share your thoughts please. Do you know anyone in an abusive relationship with their job? Were you successful in leaving the dreadful  drudge to snag yourself the job of your dreams? I’d love to hear about it, but many more people out there need to hear it!


9 thoughts on “Abusive Relationship with Your Job?

  1. Wow, that was really great how you likened having a job with being in an abusive relationship.

    “If your friend doesn’t know what a healthy relationship looks like…”

    A lot of people probably don’t know what a healthy job looks like!


    1. Right on, John!
      How many folks think loving your job is a myth or a lie? It’s work, right, so it’s supposed to be hard, but it doesn’t need to kill you slowly from the inside out and obliterate your confidence for the the rest of your life. 🙂

      1. You know? I don’t hate it. It’s not a dream job on some levels, it is in others. It’s too new (started mid-February) to judge it too hard. I love a lot of the creatives I work with and it makes me yearn to be more creative for more of my days. I’ll take that as a good thing. 🙂

      2. Total fantasy here- I would love to make my living writing. Even better? Travel writing. My youthful dream was to write for National Geographic, but I made other choices like buying a store at its highest price and running it into the ground. Well I didn’t choose to run it into the ground, of course. The reality is I take pride in cooperating and collaborating with my husband to gt us back on our feet. My adult dream is to be be able to earn enough income that my husband can afford to be a full time artist. Maybe someday we’ll have our cabin in the woods where he will paint and draw and I will write novels. 🙂

      3. Wow, what kind of store did you own? That’s pretty cool that you took the risk to buy a store, even if it didn’t work out.

        Travel writing would be amazing! You’d get to travel around and see lots of cool things, and that would be your job. That definitely sounds like a dream job!

        What kind of artist is your husband?


  2. This is a great post – I love the comparison with bad relationships! So if you want to write, do it! Send it off and see – the worst that can happen is that they can say no.. what do you lose? It can always provide a little extra income to buy yourself rosé and peanuts… 😉
    I’m a great believer in working to live rather than living to work. I played it by ear, listened to my guts and walked out on a permanent teaching contract to put my high heels in the cupboard and bring up my kids. No regrets there.
    Then when we needed more income and I didn’t want to leave them, I turned into a child minder and got paid to play lego with my children’s friends. Only when Little My turned 8 did I rev up the project I had simmering on the back boiler and set up freelance, working form home so I’m still available if this kids need me. I hate my boss though, MM’s a real procrastinator. Tempts me off for WordPress and coffee when I’m supposed to be working… But she’s ok really. 😉

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