Why are you staying in that terrible job?

“Dear Evil HR Lady, my boss is terrible/screams at me/is having an affair/underpays me/promoted my incompetent coworker/and calls me up at 2:00 a.m. and expects me to come into the office immediately.”

I get emails like this all the time. Often the person has been at this job for 7 or more years, and the boss (or a coworker) is clearly awful. Someone you wouldn’t want to share an elevator ride with, let alone work for, every day of your life. So why do they stay at these jobs?

To keep reading, click here: Why are you staying in that terrible job?

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7 thoughts on “Why are you staying in that terrible job?

  1. In my opinion, the answer to why people stay is simply fear of the unknown (better the devil you know than the one you don’t) and inertia. I submit that there are a lot of people who are traumatized by bad bosses, and their self-esteem and professional pride has suffered so badly as a result, that they become less able to get out.

    I think of it as Workplace Learned Helplessness–that is, you get so used to bad treatment (negative stimulus) that you feel you can’t escape because you don’t have any control over the situation (this is my boss–s/he has power over me, I need this job, people are depending on me, I have to suck it up). Additionally, bad work relationships often happen incrementally over a long period of time, so you get used to a negative or toxic situation before you fully realize what’s happening. And by the time you do, it’s often challenging to even think about all that you need to do to get out.

  2. Suzanne, it’s called “Battered Wife” syndrome. Been there done that. Thankfully, I now work for a great company!

    1. Yeah, I think that’s highly possible that it’s the same psychological mechanism that keeps people in bad jobs and bad relationships. I was afraid to go that far, though!

      1. Been there, done that. Spent 3 1/2 years at a job where I wasn’t valued at all and made the scapegoat for the entire department. By the time I managed to escape, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to find another job because I was a horrible employee.

        What actually saved me was a previous boss called me and said she had a job opening I’d be perfect for. Yay!! Was there for over 3 years before I was laid off.

        I actually have a (relatively minor) case of PTSD from the Job from Hell. Every time a manager even looks at me, my brain leaps to, “It wasn’t me. I didn’t do anything. What?” I keep having to tell myself that I now have a different job, and that I’ve been told outright that I’m doing an awesome job. But it’s hard.

  3. I don’t understand it either. I CAN understand feeling afraid of the unknown, needing a lot of time to find the right job in a poor economy, but seven years is a long time. My first job out of grad school was horrible. Terrible boss. Toxic environment. I felt bad for wanting out so quickly. I lasted 8 months. I discovered others lasted three months. One quit before lunch on the first day. But, yes, I was job hunting. The day I gave my resignation was one of the best days of my young career.

  4. There might not be too many jobs out there right now, but if you are willing to stay at a company for many more months/years to come & tolerate the horrid treatment, then maybe you can allow yourself extra time to find a new job, too.

    When I left my last job, it took me a good 6 months to make the decision. I was miserable, and family and friends were telling me to leave. But, yes, it was the ‘battered wife’ syndrome &I kept making excuses. I couldn’t afford a huge pay cut, Who else would want me? I was in a very specialized area and there was NOTHING in my town the same. Where would I go? Was I qualified to do anything else? I finally sat down one day & weighed out the pros & cons & figured that I would stay on with the company but job hunt at the same time. I didn’t leave until I found the job that I really wanted, but I had prepared myself to accept a lower paying job (even cashier at a convenience store) if I really needed to. I left & didn’t look back (except for the sporatic bitterness that creeps into my mind every now & then). I figured that my mental well-being was worth the change & that I COULD find happiness elsewhere.

    Maybe there needs to be an intervention program to help those to make the decision to leave & find happiness at a new job! ;p

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