Feeling pushed to your limits at work and wondering if storming your boss's office is a good idea? Victoria Stokes finds out if rage quitting is ever a wise move
“I quit!”. You can picture the scene, can’t you? A studious, but completely under-appreciated employee finally reaches the end of her tether, and in a case of major payback against her terrible boss she ceremoniously quits her job, triumphantly turning on her Louboutin’d heel and sashaying away into the elevator, which conveniently opens without delay. It’s a trope that’s turned out in Hollywood time and again, but what about in real life?
Is rage quitting your job an actual thing – and more importantly is it something you should ever consider doing?
Blame a recent recession, but for most of us, the idea that we should be grateful to have a job has been bate into us. We’re warned to keep our heads down and not make a fuss and told that if we only work hard enough we’ll reap the rewards. But we’re also a generation feeling full of effects of burnout, leaving work well passed close of business drained and frazzled and complaining to all and sundry about how we’re SO. DAMN. BUSY. With a work culture that is driving many to the edge, you might say quitting your job in a huff is justified, and being honest most of us have surely been tempted at one point or another, but is it ever a good idea?
First of all, life and career coach Paula Coogan (myquarterlifecoach.com) points out that it’s because people are becoming more and more disgruntled at work that we’re now more tempted than ever to just jack in our jobs. “People’s expectations, desires and views of work in terms of ‘what is possible’ are shifting rapidly and a lot of companies aren’t adapting quickly enough,” she explains. “The ‘job for life’ concept that our parents’ generation would have had and what a lot of 30 somethings would have been encouraged to work towards when leaving school is almost gone too. The certainty and security that many people crave from their work just simply aren’t there anymore because things have shifted so quickly and the reality of work and our expectations have completely changed.”
What’s more, it’s often toxic work environments, poor management systems and heavy workloads that push people over the edge. “A bad working environment can take so many forms,” Paula points out. “Whether it’s inconsistency with management and expectations so you’re always on edge not knowing what’s expected, shaming and calling people out publicly for mistakes, bullying, or lack of systems and accountability. It all comes down to stress for the individual, often burn out, panic, reduced confidence and self-esteem and often illness. After that, the main reason people quit would be the job itself isn’t meaningful or doesn’t make the person happy and there’s something else that they want to explore. The issue is that people can tolerate a lot so often they wind up staying and tolerating unsuitable work situations far longer than they should.”
That was certainly the case for Michelle, 29, who jacked in a job in finance. “I really stuck it out for far too long. The stress, the anxious feeling in my belly every morning, the lack of appreciation from my boss, it wasn’t until I finally quit that I realised just how burned out the work had me,” she explains. “I was physically and mentally exhausted.
The final straw was when my boss called me into his office to scrutinise a project I had killed myself working on. He was being completely unfair and I knew I’d reached my limit. I calmly told him I no longer wanted to work there, walked out of his office and packed up my belongings.
After that, I took a few weeks off to recover before throwing myself into job hunting and was lucky to find a creative role in a startup. I’m much happier now. This role has lit the fire in my belly again and the workload is more manageable.”
While things may have worked out well for Michelle, Paula warns that it isn’t necessarily a good idea to follow suit, for obvious reasons, but notes that often, quitting is in fact necessary. “Often we talk ourselves out of our instincts and our desires, we suck it up, and put our heads down, we stay quiet and get on with it when we shouldn’t,” she points out.
“If you’ve been putting up with something for far too long and have been talking yourself out of doing anything to change your situation but then something happens one day and it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back, then sometimes a bit of rage and fire in your belly can be exactly what you need!”
But, Paula warns, you don’t have to go out in a blaze of (potentially short-lived) glory. You can still take immediate action while maintaining your dignity and class, by simply making the decision that you’re done, you no longer want to work there. “The decision is the hardest thing but once that is made you can breathe a sigh of relief because you know you’re out of there,” says Paula. “You can detach from the drama and leave with class by speaking to your boss calmly, packing your things and walking out the door with your head held high.”
If you want to take the classy route and you know you’re at the point of no return where handing in your notice is a matter of when not if, then Paula has some practical advice for you. “Look into seeking an alternative job if you want to move into something else straight away and work out your numbers of what you need income wise to be able to support yourself for a couple of months in case you don’t get another job straight away,” she advises.
“You’ll need to know how much notice you’ll be required to work too and any clauses in your contract that might prevent you from seeking similar employment elsewhere. Remember to clear your computer of any personal information and important documents too. It’s best to take some time to wrap things up yourself before you say you’re leaving.” Finally, “write that resignation letter and have it ready to go.”
Bottom line, if you’re ready to quit don’t do anything rash and potentially regrettable. Plot your escape plan and bide your time. Rage quitting your job might not be the wisest move, but getting out of a toxic work environment certainly is.