Why Do We Stick With Workplaces That Don’t Make Us Happy?

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Why are we not happy
11 min read

How many times have you heard people say, “I’ll wait till I get that promotion, and then I will leave this job” or, “I just need to build my savings a little more” or, “I’ll start looking for a new position once this project is over.” Most people who have had regular jobs have heard these words at some point or the other! 

Happiness is not the top priority when it comes to job hunting or job retention. When we think about work, mental, physical, and emotional health often do not play the leading role. This leads to a lot of workers being dissatisfied. It is almost a trend to dislike work!

You might berate the office space while chilling with coworkers after hours, but if you stay awake rehearsing fake resignation speeches in your head, there might be a legitimate problem. 

So if you are choosing to stick with a workplace that does not make you happy, here are some reasons why. Once you identify what it is that is holding you back, you can move towards greater happiness and fulfillment, either in your current role or in a new one! 

1. You Value Money Over Mind At Your Job

Money is a motivating factor when it comes to people looking for jobs. Many of us do not subscribe to the avant-garde idea of working for happiness. If you like what you do, you might not work a day in your life, but how many of us have that privilege? This idealized way of thinking about work is often way off the actual mark. People go to work for the money and stick with unhappiness because the rent is due. 

There is nothing wrong with choosing money over passion, but the money should not come attached to a slew of other problems. Many of us stick with abusive jobs and toxic workplaces because we cannot bear to part with the pocketful of cash that we are left with at the end of the day.

What you can do:

It might take some time, but perhaps we all ought to keep looking and searching for that one job profile which makes us happy and promises a good salary as well. This means that you will always be job hunting, but optimism in regulated amounts can be great for the soul!

If you’re sticking with a not-so-great job because of the salary, you can also start saving and investing. Your goal should be earning off of your investments, so you are not forced to work for money any longer!

2. You Might Have Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a psychological issue. People who suffer from this syndrome are apt to look at themselves as ‘frauds’ and are afraid of being exposed. Imposter syndrome translates very cleanly into modern workplaces. With thousands of employees per office, and a constant drive to become better and upskill, many workers are forced to doubt their skills, their value as employees, and their accomplishments. People who suffer from imposter syndrome often dial down their achievements and performances in the workplace because they do not think they deserve the praise

Imposter Syndrome affects a majority of people worldwide. The predominant culture of overwork and striving for ‘perfection’ has a lot to do with how workers view themselves. Self-doubt is natural but many cannot separate healthy self-evaluation from a swirling vortex of negativity. This leads to people holding on to toxic workplaces and unsatisfying jobs because they do not believe that they are good enough for other–better–opportunities. 

What you can do:

If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, ( and many of us do), watch this video about how you can tackle it.

3. You Want Just One More Notch For The Resume 

Despite being a slender piece of paper, the resume holds the world in its clutches. Many believe that a resume can make or break your career. How, then, can one leave a job before a stipulated period and risk offending the resume gods? Often people are led to believe that three-month-long work ex slots on the CV are detrimental to future opportunities. This then leads down a rabbit hole of, “I can deal with this for just one more month.”

The resume might be an important document when it comes to your career, but your mental health might be a tad bit more crucial for life. Weigh the pros and cons of your job and make an informed decision, not influenced by your Curriculum Vitae. Trying to get that ‘just one more notch’ for the resume should not derail your life. 

What you can do: 

There are ways to explain those short work stints on your resume, and not all of them portray you in a negative light. It is possible that you left because the workplace culture was toxic, or because your role was completely different from what you had been made to believe. If you had a good enough reason to leave, you can find a good way of explaining it. 

4. You’re Held Down By Job Security

Even in the pre-pandemic world, a lot of us hesitated to leave a job that provided security but sapped us emotionally. The argument has long been that ‘something is better than nothing.’ Many women, especially now that the pandemic has successfully cut all job opportunities in half, are terrified of losing their livelihoods. Women who might be the breadwinners might find the situation harder. In some cases, unemployment is just not a luxury that one can afford!  

There is often also this abstract fear that the next job might be even worse. Risk is often looked at as a positive force in life, especially vis-à-vis careers. However, the future is a scary thing, and many might not be able to accumulate enough bravado to slap that resignation letter on their bosses’ desks. Sure, right now you have to deal with a terrible workplace, but at least they have free coffee! 

What you can do:

Start applying while you’re still working. Sure, it will take some extra time and effort, but knowing that there are other places out there that want you will not only make your decision easier, but also make you feel more confident at your current workplace. 

5. You Hope Things Might Get Better At Work

Sometimes, even while slogging through your nine to five, you cannot help but believe that things cannot always stay this bad. We often create a bubble of optimism for ourselves. Not only is this a coping mechanism, but it also helps a lot of us to not fall into a pit of despair every day on schedule. Holding out hope for a better future is not inherently a bad thing. Perhaps your toxic boss is slotted to leave at the end of the month. Maybe you’re looking at a significant raise soon. 

If you can see the silver lining, that’s great. But make sure you are not holding yourself back just because being in this environment is easier than looking for a new job. Going through the motions of short-term unemployment is terrifying, but if your job is taking a toll on mental and physical health, perhaps it is time you choose happiness. 

What you can do:

Perhaps the best way to resolve your issues with your workplace is to make a list of pros and cons and then objectively weigh them against one another. What are you staying for? Is the impending promotion enough to make you forget your toxic boss? Make your decisions with a clear and rational mind. 

6. Burnout Culture At Work Is Rewarding Your Misery 

The marketplace has devised a clever way of retaining their employees. You are constantly told that having a job is more important than your well-being. Often mental health at work is sidelined not through actual words, but by minute actions. Your office might not identify mental health days or your boss might give you a hard time when you ask for period leaves. People who overwork and burnout are often lauded as the ‘perfect workers.’ 

What creates more confusion is the fact that we have normalized not talking to our coworkers about salaries, raises, leaves, and other ‘personal’ matters when in the office. Communication bridges gaps, but the flip side is also true. Miscommunication or a lack of sharing can lead to isolation, where an employee can more easily be puppeteered for the ‘greater good’ of the workplace. 

What you can do: 

One of the most important things we all have to learn is how to prioritise our time. Mental health is often ignored, and it is time we take care of our psyche as well. Read up about burnout culture and learn how to identify the signs of burnout. Take a break when you need to and make sure you let your company know that your health comes first. 

Let’s be honest. Finding a job in this atmosphere is not easy. Not only are there fewer jobs available, the ones that are there have abysmal pay or toxic work culture. It is no surprise then that when we find a job, we stick with it through thick and thin. 

After years of living with a problematic work culture, it might be time to open up. There is nothing wrong with being happy when you are working. The younger generation is taking baby steps towards a happier and more wholesome office culture, where work does not reign supreme. 

At long last, it might be time to choose happiness over a multiple-year-long sabbatical with misery and overwork

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Prerna is an avid writer and procrastination enthusiast. She likes to hang out with books but being social is a skill she has yet to master. A student of literature and creative writing, Prerna loves meandering over diverse themes, polishing her creative processes, and finding trivia that might one day turn into a story. Travel and literature are very high on her list of things she likes to write about. She keeps wanting to write poignant articles about anime but is often distracted by other anime.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Totally relatable. I don’t say I have been stuck with my job but I definitely had some of these as boosters that would keep me going on at work and without ever looking back. Also, I see many of my friends and colleagues are actually too wary about quitting their current role. It is almost like a comfort zone for them which they don’t want to leave for something unknown and unclear.

    I just hope people become more confident about their own self worth and take more chances in making life better, at least when it needs to be taken.

  2. Great article.
    Yes,happiness hardly counts when we select a job..and it really matters and has a lot if impact on productivity.
    Good job👍

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