The concept of “a job for life”, was buried long ago, and few of us feel compelled to stay in a role which no longer matches our expectations. According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, the idea of “flight” is especially embraced by millennials (those born between 1980 and 1996) who are more likely than most to seek new jobs -- nearly a quarter switched jobs between 2015 and 2016, and nearly 60 per cent say they are open to job opportunities.
But how can you justify to yourself and others that you need to leave, and how should you go gracefully? We asked HR employment experts to identify when it is time to move on, and how to do so without making enemies.
1 It feels too easy…
If you have mastered everything in your job and feel confident about all you do, then maybe it is time for a change, says Averil Leimon, director of the White Water Group consultancy.
“Life needs a bit of roller coaster every now and then to keep you engaged and motivated,” she says. “Don’t just jump ship to a similar position where you may end up feeling just the same. Think of what scares you a bit, and either expand your job to incorporate some of that, or look for a job where you will have to achieve that new skill.”
2 …In fact, you are bored…..
Personal development coach Gladeana McMahon says it is time to act when work becomes repetitive and you feel you are coasting. “You may have lots to do, but none of it challenges you, and you feel as if you are just going through the motions”, she warns.
“Boredom can set in and maybe it's only the fact you like your colleagues, are comfortable with your organisation, or have an easy journey into work that keeps you there.
“If this is how you are feeling, it's time to take action”, she says.
She advises speaking to your manager about new challenges. “Take stock of those aspects of your role you do like and how you can get more of these.
“If there is nothing you can do to stretch yourself, it may be time to think about moving on to find a role that will make work more interesting and where you can develop new skills”, says McMahon.
3 You don’t get much chance to get into flow
When people use their key strengths they become fully engaged, and it just doesn’t feel like work. Leimon has a name for this. “You are ‘in flow’”, she says,“If you are constantly diluting your strengths, or constantly dragged away to areas that do not play to your strengths, it impacts on both motivation and well-being.”
She advises monitoring the ratio between boring and stimulating bits of jobs. “Many people are unaware of what their strengths are. Think of a time when you were absolutely at your best. Recognise the strengths you were using. Are you using them every day at work? Can you find new ways of operating from strengths or do you have to start a shopping list for the next job where you can be authentic and hence happy and successful?”
4 The culture is corrosive
New research from global HR consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison Penna on the impact of poor relationships at work finds that two-in-five (41%) workers would leave their job due to a poor relationship with their manager, and a further 31% over a poor relationship with a colleague.
CEO UK and Ireland Nick Goldberg says that organisations need to “ take the vital steps of engaging and developing their employees to future-proof themselves.”
No one will criticise you for quitting a corrosive culture. “Work should provide many opportunities for endorsing your worth, talent and value to the organisation”, says the White Water Group’s Leimon.
“If this is not the case then either you are in a toxic environment or a deeply unskilled one. If your leaders cannot lead from a position of positive feedback, appreciation and inspiration to do better, then do not sell yourself short.
“Vote with your feet”, says Leimon advising anyone who is dissatisfied to seek out a more enlightened place of work.
5 Feedback, what feedback?
Leimon points out that employees have the right to expect “specific strengths-based personal feedback, enabling you to learn from mistakes, and building collaborative teams.”
However, she does have one proviso which she attaches to all her advice given in this article: never just jump ship. “I would advise people to find a way of giving feedback and asking for what they need, rather than just jumping ship. If you do not tell employers what is wrong, then you give them no chance to fix things, If you have done that, and got nowhere, then they may not deserve you.”
6. No clear sight of the future
“Feeling under-valued, under-motived and not having a clear line of sight as to where your career will go next are ‘red flags’ to consider a change of role”, says Jo White, director of Vana HR Resourcing.
She recommends self-questioning on subjects like “does your role make you feel accomplished? Are you feeling frustrated by things that previously would have been ‘water off a ducks back’?; when was the last time you learnt anything new?”
Think carefully before you hand in your notice. Ask yourself if more money or a promotion would encourage you to stay?
“If the answer is yes, you are not ready for a move. Maybe you are just having a bad day.
7 You will not leave a legacy
At business school Ashridge, HR programme director Sharon Olivier points out that the opposite of growing in a role is dying in it.
She advises anyone who has self-doubt to ask themselves about the long-term impact of their role.
“Ask what is your legacy? Are you spending the majority of your time doing what you want to be remembered for?” she says, pointing out that “self-esteem is the biggest thing we have.”
So finally…what next?
White at Vana HR Resourcing advises anyone with itchy feet to plan well in advance.
“Ensure that you have a CV ready and start to build your online profile. A good consultancy will advise you on how best to do this,” she says.
“Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations of consultancies who can support you in your search”, says White. “Choose specialists who offer a genuine passion and expertise, and be prepared to meet face-to-face for an in-depth interview and exploration of your career motivations and key competencies.”