fear of changing jobs

Why do I have a fear of changing jobs?

Every day thousands of employees worldwide face the paralyzing fear of changing jobs. Unfortunately, such potent fear often has a negative impact on emotional well-being, which then negatively impacts employees’ professional development. 

While an employee’s dissatisfaction in their role might harmfully inhibit their ability to be sufficiently engaged in their work, it also leaves them at a disadvantage when finding a solution so that there is no progress in their career. Read on to learn more about this common workplace issue. 

The fear of changing jobs

Is it true that all employees fear leaving their current position and replacing it with another? Are we always afraid of making a career change? Not exactly.

Not everyone has a hard time changing jobs nor experiences it as a serious internal conflict. Some people are naturally very decisive, which allows them to process their decision at their own pace without feeling threatened by their unknown professional future outside their current company. Other people are impulsive: they act so hastily that they barely have time to process the fear of changing jobs.

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Of course, other people can execute significant decisions with little suffering and great agility.

Why do we have a fear of changing jobs?

Work is a serious aspect of one’s life; it cannot be dealt with lightly without having significant repercussions in our lives. Many employees indeed struggle with deciding such gravity. How could they not?

At the end of the day, work plays a substantial role in defining how we live our lives and shaping part of our social circle. It is truly the main activity that structures our lives. Changing jobs, therefore, means opening ourselves to a new way of life that, while on the surface may seem entirely favorable, is full of all the stress and uncertainty that comes with changing tasks, spaces, colleagues, responsibilities, etc. All of these novelties have the potential to wear us out, de-motivate us, or frighten us.

Ultimately, we have a fear of changing jobs because the change in and of itself implies uncertainty, and this can be experienced as a threat to our security and psychological stability.

fear of changing jobs

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What happens once we decide to change jobs?

That depends. When examining our fear of changing jobs, we must recognize that it is not the same as merely replacing one job for another that we have already secured (being able to come to our decision in a controlled manner, having had time to reflect on it) as it is to leave our current job without an alternative. Nor is it the same as when we are fired suddenly and must start job searching without any safety net. In that scenario, the decision has not been pre-meditated, which would be a topic of another article.

The energy we have to invest in the job search after deciding to change jobs will depend, firstly, on the energy we have available. Second, it will depend on the demands of the search process until we land a new position.

Sometimes when we make important changes in our professional career – in this case, changing jobs – we get placed on a very long and demanding path where our employment chances are uncertain. Other factors also influence how we experience our search for a new job: how much we need or want a new position, how we find ourselves in this situation, and how that affects us psychologically… 

Of course, our disposition also influences: some people tend to be more relaxed/easygoing or have more confidence in themselves and their future. In contrast, others tend to be more anxious, impatient, or worried. The latter, obviously, are more likely to have a worse time in these situations.

Landing a new job: what does it feel like?

Significant changes are almost always stressful, as they can generate self-doubt or uncertainty in one’s decisions or job qualifications. Therefore, they can do a handy job of triggering our fears, which we could also call feeling insecure. It almost seems to confirm the thought: “No wonder I was afraid of changing jobs.”

However, significant changes can also be accompanied by excitement, motivation, and happiness (especially when one did not have particularly good feelings about their previous employment). We may feel stimulated positively by the notion of a new work environment and responsibilities, a new lifestyle, new coworkers, etc., that come with a new job.

Adapting to a new company: what lies ahead?

This varies depending on the person (one’s psychological characteristics and particular circumstances) and the new role (mainly the level of demand for the employee and the level of support offered to them).

That is why it is so important to handle the onboarding process with care and make available to the new worker the necessary means to start their tasks and integrate with their new colleagues well. 

All of this would require a sufficient adjustment period for both the employee and the company. Both have to do their part so that the inevitable challenges are not an obstacle to the success of both parties. Ideally, both should end up perceiving that their decision to collaborate has been the right choice, even if not everything seems to be falling in place perfectly. 

How can the company help us get started?

A new member that arrives to the team does so after passing a selection process that, hopefully, has allowed them to become familiar with the company and their new position. However, they are vulnerable because they have to quickly adapt to a different environment, where there are many long-established personal and corporate dynamics that they must assume and integrate in time. 

The company, through its manager and employees, should aim to make it as easy as possible for the new employee to get settled regarding technical aspects (support in the initial organization of work, efficient supervision, progressive training, training in corporate culture) and personal aspects (facilitation of contact zones for coworkers and efforts to forge ties with them and show availability and patience…).

These general guidelines must be translated accordingly to each employee, team, and company. The natural fear of changing jobs one feels at the beginning should be neutralized as much as possible.

Although in practice, they are usually carried out with a certain spontaneity, it would be ideal if these processes were standardized in their phases, objectives, and tasks so that their natural spontaneity does not turn into improvisation, which would put at risk the smooth and proper incorporation of the person into the team.

Between the fear of changing jobs and actually getting the job: healthy coping

Whether we fear changing jobs or have recently switched to a new one, it is important to be kind and forgiving to ourselves. Sometimes the process of leaving our current job for another is easy and satisfying. At other times, unfortunately, it can be very demanding and challenging due to various factors beyond our control.

Remember that leaving your job and joining a new company is not supposed to be easy. You have to give yourself some time to adapt. It is a learning experience that requires time to reveal all of its benefits and time for us to pass through it successfully. 

The importance of giving ourselves time

Being in a fearful or doubtful mood for extended periods can be costly. That is why we must learn to distinguish between regular and foreseeable difficulty in processes of this type and what is a genuine reason for discomfort.

Even when we are the ones who have decided to replace our job with another, there are aspects of this decision that we are afraid of or that we don’t like. We should not try to adapt all at once or expect to love everything that happens in our new position. Life is not perfect, so it is important that, at the very least, we strive to trust ourselves, trust our intuition, and our grounds to gradually leave behind the initial fear of changing jobs and allow this new professional and non-professional stage to take shape.

fear of changing jobs

Fostering emotional well-being in organizations

Taking the plunge and overcoming our fear of changing jobs to continue developing professionally is very difficult. One way to lessen the impact of this emotion, especially if it appears to be hindering us, is to join a company that is not overly intimidating to become a part of but rather one that can embrace our vulnerability. 

At ifeel, we strive to ensure that you and your colleagues can benefit from our global emotional well-being program for companies, designed by our team of expert psychologists in well-being at work. This collaboration allows managers in the People, Talent, and Human Resources area to receive personalized, data-based advice on the best care for the psychological well-being of the teams under their charge. 

Do you belong to your organization’s Human Resources department? Try our program now to see how it could help you.

In addition, our program offers all employees a complete mental health care service that includes emotional support and online therapy with one of our professionals. 

Moreover, in our Resources section, you can find different materials, such as Podcasts, HR Guides on various topics (e.g., employee experience or how to design a good HR strategy), or Interviews with leading HR managers. In addition, we have a Psychosocial Risk Factors Template, which you can use to comply with the requirements of the Labor Inspection.

We hope you found this post on the fear of changing jobs interesting. If you would like more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, all you have to do is request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

Is it normal to have a fear of changing jobs?

Of course, fear is a natural emotion and helps us adapt to challenging situations, such as switching jobs.

When can the fear of changing jobs become a problem?

When it excessively distorts the threat level and ends up paralyzing the person, hindering their development.

Is it possible to counteract the fear of changing jobs?

Of course, by reflecting on our true motives for fear and properly assessing the importance of what may happen if we take the step of switching jobs.

Why are we afraid of changing jobs?

Because change implies uncertainty, and this can be experienced as a threat to our security because it breaks the stability in which we find ourselves.

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