Many people want to leave a toxic job to which they are currently committed. They savor the idea and fantasize about it as a temporary reassurance until the time comes for them to present their voluntary resignation to their supervisor. What happens is that sometimes that moment never comes, or is postponed due to different circumstances, or because the person in this situation can’t figure out the best way to proceed.
In this article, we will examine why this happens and what is the best way to face the (im)possible mission: to leave a toxic job.
What is a toxic job?
In extreme cases, a toxic job is one that puts our physical and psychological well-being at serious risk, for example, because of poor working conditions or because we are forced to suffer mobbing or harassment at work.
In less extreme and more general cases, a toxic job is one that poisons us in some way. It generates “bad vibes”, contaminates our life, or wears us down to a great extent. In short, a toxic job is one that takes more from me than it gives me and that does not make me feel good about myself, and even exploits me or makes me feel trapped, unable to progress in my professional career or, probably, in other aspects of my life.
How to leave a toxic job?
With a mix of courage, common sense, good alternatives, and luck.
Courage is the force that drives us to execute the final decision to leave a toxic job when our intuition tells us we should do so, despite the signals that discourage us from doing so. Common sense is possessing the gift of timing to gauge when, how, and why the time has come to leave a toxic job… or keep it a while longer.
Good alternatives are the happy prospects we imagine ourselves living in when we leave a toxic job. However, let’s remember that to be good, they must first and foremost be realistic and feasible.
Finally, luck is all those factors that are completely beyond our control and knowledge and that conspire in our favor or against us when making a decision.
Once this explosive mixture has been processed, there are 5 things we must take into account when it comes to quitting a job:
1. Define the issue
Ask yourself the following questions: why do I want to leave this job, what is causing me discomfort and, before resigning, what possibilities do I have to improve my situation in this job. It is about having a criterion of economy and saving energy: in the short term, it is always more efficient to stay in a job than to leave.
2. Solution analysis
Ask yourself: given my current circumstances, is it feasible to quit my job now?, what alternatives do I have?, is quitting my job really my best solution at this particular time, why do I consider it to be?
Do not dramatize the current situation beyond what is “objectively” happening. Don’t idealize the future or generate overly optimistic expectations. Sometimes our work is terrifying, but sometimes not everything bad that happens to us is due to our work, and therefore, not everything will be automatically solved by leaving our job.
4. Plan of action
It follows a certain strategy: what do I have to do to leave the job, what is the best moment, what measures do I have to take beforehand so that it is more of a controlled demolition than improvised destruction.
5. Avoid damage
When the time comes, make sure you avoid as much damage as possible. It is important, if possible, to take care of your relationship with the company you are considering leaving: you never know what life will do, who you will need to ask for a favor, who may be your boss or colleague in the future, or who will ask for references about your performance.
If you decide to submit your voluntary resignation and your supervisor offers you the possibility of an exit interview, do not miss the opportunity to use it to close your relationship with this company in your favor. It is better to approach it from that perspective than to focus the interview on unloading all your discomfort and burning your bridges with the company.
What’s stopping me from quitting my job?
In many cases, it is not a matter of not daring to “take the leap”, but what prevents us from being able to leave a toxic job is simply that we cannot: we need that job and we do not have a better alternative in the short term. That’s why we can’t afford to take the leap since we have family or personal burdens, we don’t have a good resume, and breaking our current contract could hurt us more than benefit us.
Other times we could find alternatives if we look for them, or our situation is not so bad, but the very idea of leaving our job creates a lot of discomforts and blocks us. In order to manage this blockage, various responses arise in us, which can interact with each other.
These responses must be understood as defense mechanisms against the threat of leaving the job, even if we are talking about having to leave a toxic job. From this point of view, they are coping strategies, resources that we use to manage the situation, and what awakens us. They are attempts to adapt to the situation, although sustained over time they can also become part of the problem, to the extent that they prevent us from quitting a toxic or simply unsatisfactory job.
It’s what you feel while you think: what’s going to happen to me, I won’t find another job given the situation, what if the next job is the same or worse?
I’m in bad shape but I’m comfortable, I have no energy or motivation to start an active job search, to adapt to a new company, to start from scratch… I’d better stay here, even if I don’t like it.
Or lack of awareness of the true characteristics of the job and its effects on me. Or, simply, great efforts to divert attention from that point: it’s no big deal, these things happen in every job, the beginnings in a job are like this, I can hold on, I give myself a year (and another year, and another year)….
Emotional well-being for employees
To leave a toxic job is hard and, as we said before, it is important to take care of ourselves as much as possible while we make the decision and put it into practice.
Ifeel has developed an emotional well-being program for companies, designed by its team of expert psychologists with the aim of helping companies boost productivity in a sustainable way by taking care of their teams’ mental health.
Through this partnership, HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice on how to prevent their team members from feeling intoxicated by their work. You can try our program today and start benefiting from its resources.
Additionally, ifeel’s emotional well-being program for companies offers employees a mental health care service structured at different levels depending on what they need at any given time. So, they can access various mental health care tools with ifeel’s app. On a second level, they can receive emotional support through a chat with one of our platform’s registered psychologists. If continuous help is needed over time, they only have to access the third level of the program: online psychological therapy with a psychologist specialized in cases like theirs.
We hope you found this post about how to leave a toxic job interesting. If you want more information about our emotional well-being program for companies just get in touch and we will contact your team as soon as possible.