Work-related angst comes with the territory of living in Singapore, but given the grim economic times, most people grudgingly accept that they need their current jobs for survival, in the same way a kidney failure patient needs a dialysis machine.
So how do you know whether you should quit your job, or whether simply complaining about it will get you through the next few years? Here are five signs you’ll be doing yourself a favour by leaving.
1. Your annual increments have sucked or been non-existent
When you first took up your job a few years ago, you accepted the salary they were offering you because it met your needs at the time.
But if your boss has been giving out lousy (or worse, no) increments over the years, or piled more responsibilities on you without increasing your pay, your job could be making you poorer, especially if your salary can’t keep pace with inflation.
It’s quite common for local companies to promote staff without giving them a raise. In addition, recruiters generally recommend that you not stay in a job for more than three years as it causes your pay to stagnate.
2. The stress is causing you to burn out
There are no jobs out there that involve zero stress, otherwise it would be called frolicking in paradise and not work.
But there’s a difference between learning how to handle work-related stress, and working in an unhealthy environment that’s causing you to burn out.
Extra-long work hours are causing burnout in many young Singaporean PMETs. Burnout can have you crying your heart out in a psychologist’s office, having nightmares, unable to sleep, clinically depressed and even suicidal.
If your job is doing that to you, it’s time to get out, no matter how much you’re being paid. But before you throw in the towel, see if there are any lifestyle adjustments you can make that will make the job more bearable, such as by not watching YouTube videos till 3am every day and learning to dodge arrows.
3. You can’t get ahead no matter how well you work
In an ideal world, employees would be assessed solely based on the quality of their work. Whenever you faced a roadblock at work, you could take a problem-solving approach to find out how you could do your job better.
But in reality, a large part of your success at work depends on how well you can navigate personal minefields and win the favour, or at least the cooperation, of your bosses and colleagues.
Unfortunately, sometimes you may just not gel with the people at your place, or there may be one or two people who are intent on making life a living hell for everyone else.
Sometimes bosses or colleagues are abusive, disrespectful or uncooperative, and won’t take kindly to anyone standing up to them. Sometimes there’s so much politicking going on that no work actually gets done because people are too busy sharpening weapons behind those cubicle walls. And let’s be honest, it’s also possible your boss and colleagues just don’t like you.
Of course, you shouldn’t quit just because there is that one colleague you find annoying. But if you find that there’s no way you can advance at work no matter how hard you try because people at the office are dragging you down, it’s time to leave for a workplace where your hard work will actually be appreciated.
4. There’s no room for you to grow
Imagine if your boss decided to promote you at the end of the year. Can you conceivably see that happening, and would there be a vacancy for you to take over? If the answer is no, you’ve outgrown your company and it’s time to look for a new one where you’ll have more room to grow.
This can happen if you’re already at the highest level of seniority that the company can offer you. It can also happen in family businesses where all the positions above yours are taken up by members of the big boss’s family.
5. You suspect retrenchment is on the horizon
You know how teenage boys break up with their girlfriends because they’re afraid they’re going to be broken up with first? The same principle applies if you suspect your job is on the line.
While Singapore might seem like the land of plenty for bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young employees, for middle-aged employees who’re more expensive to hire, the risk of retrenchment is ever-present.
So if your industry is in trouble, your company hasn’t been doing well, or you’ve already seen a few colleagues dejectedly leave the office, cardboard boxes in hand, start looking around for new opportunities.
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