Should I Stay or Should I Go?

ON January 18, 2018

It’s the New Year and you’re dissatisfied with your job. Perhaps you crave the freedom and flexibility of going alone, or maybe just working for an employer who values your input and can offer you more meaningful work. Either way, your feet are itching and something is telling you the world has more to offer you than this.

So how do you know when to trust that gut instinct? January is a time for fresh starts and new ideas, so self-doubt creeps in when you wonder if you might just be caught up in the “new year, new you” vibe. Maybe when Spring blooms, you’ll feel more relaxed, less anxious. Perhaps your employer will be in tune with your needs. You wonder how long you might spend waiting.

You’re not alone. Just 8% of British employees are engaged at work. That figure rises only to 15% worldwide, according to Gallup. It’s no surprise to hear that most employees are either looking for or open to new opportunities.

No one knows your work situation better than you, but if you need a little help deciding whether to stay or go, here are my five tell-tale signs for each end of the pendulum:

5 Signs You Should Go…

1. Your Physical or Emotional Well-being is Suffering

If any aspect of your work is making you significantly stressed, anxious, upset or physically unwell, it may be time to seriously question whether the gains you get are worth the damage being caused to your mind and body.

2. You Have a Boss from Hell

It pains me to say, but there are far too many bad bosses in this world and they come in many forms and guises. Before giving up completely, you may be able to improve the relationship yourself, change reporting line, or formally raise your concerns. If not, please recognise that you deserve better.

3. There is a Lack of Opportunities

If you feel you have reached the maximum gain level, sometimes employer loyalty alone can seem to tie you down. There is no need to feel guilty if you have ambitions or career needs your current employer is unable to fulfil. Feel positive about leaving on good terms, value your experience and spread those wings.

4. Your Achievements Go Unnoticed

Let’s not deny it, recognition is important. If you are giving all and getting nothing back, it’s no surprise you’re left feeling underappreciated. Try speaking up, or raising anonymously. This might be a management, cultural or HR based issue. Sometimes all it takes is a little shake. If not, share your skills with an employer who values them.

5. You’re Not Getting Anything Done

If on reflection, you realise you spend most of your time procrastinating, it may not be the job for you. You could try asking for more challenging, interesting work… if that’s the problem. If it’s not, ask yourself what you would really rather be doing. The rest is up to you.

5 Signs You Should Stay (for now, at least)…

1. You’ve Got That Culture Fit Thing

No two organisations are the same and culture fit can be the difference between a great job and bad one. If you work for a company that gets you and what you want out of work – especially if you took some time trying to find it – think twice before you throw that gold dust away.

2. The Grass isn’t Greener

If you don’t have a better offer on the table, don’t hand in your notice just yet. Finding a new job can be a time-consuming activity, so before you commit your time and energy, be sure about what you are looking for and what is realistic for you to seek.

3. You’re Respected

Having the respect of your peers, the autonomy to get the job done and the recognition when you do it well, are all things that contribute to a positive working environment. We can take these for granted, often focusing on pay and job titles when seeking alternative roles, but it’s their absence that can be felt the most.

4. You Need and Get Flexibility

More and more of us are demanding flexibility from our employers. An EY study highlighting this showed 74% of us rate flexibility highly when looking for a new job, second only to competitive pay and benefits. Employers have been slower to react, so if you’ve got a good thing, hang on to it.

5. Good Company Prospects

If your employer demonstrates good current or future prospects, consider whether it is worth sticking around to reap the rewards. That could mean anything from job stability to better pay, from increased career opportunities to improved working environment. If the company is well positioned for the future, hopping over to a competitor isn’t always the best solution in the long run.

Salary is “the number one most important thing to employees about a job” (Stahl, Forbes), yet you will notice it’s not on either list. I omitted it for exactly this reason: It will probably always be the most important thing. Most employees will always want more pay, therefore if you chase pay and only pay, you will never be truly happy at work.

My advice is to make sure you’re paid within a suitable pay range (benchmarking against roles, experience, industry etc – ask HR), then focus on what makes you get the most out of work on a day to day basis. Work for a company and manager that values you and the work you do. Enjoy what you do. If you’re spending your life waiting or sacrificing, speak to someone you’re close to about it. We spend a lot our lives working. Make it work for you.


Stevie Barnes has worked in HR for a decade, supporting organisational development and picking up best practice along the way across Healthcare, IT, FMCG and Automotive industries to name a few. Having managed recruitment, HR and HRIS teams, she is interested in getting the most out people, processes and businesses – you can read more of Stevie’s blog posts on LinkedIn and follow her tweets here.

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