Why Staying at a Job You Hate Is Financially Unhealthy

Millennials get a lot of flack for job-hopping these days, but have you ever considered that doing the opposite, staying at a job for too long, could actually be financially unhealthy.

Why Staying at a Job You Hate Could Hurt Your Future IncomeJob-hopping is now considered the “new normal,” with 51% of Canadians choosing to stick with their employer for 2 years or less, then move on (as found by Workopolis’ 2014 survey). That has definitely been my experience as a millennial in the workforce, having held 4 different full-time jobs within the last 4 years (not including my current job as a self-employed entrepreneur).

Still, that doesn’t mean the stigma around jumping from employer to employer has completely disappeared. As a millennial who talks to a lot of other millennials about this sort of thing on my blog, podcast and in my Facebook group, jumping ship to another employer is rarely done lightly. This ridiculous notion that millennials aren’t loyal to their employer because they don’t feel fulfilled, they’re bored or they want to keep their options open like a casual Tinder date is just that — ridiculous.

More often than not, they leave because they feel undervalued, underpaid or aren’t offered any opportunities to move up in the company. But even still, most of them will stick it out longer than is probably mentally healthy for fear of looking like that typical millennial suffering from ennui.

I can’t tell you how many millennials I know personally who’ve told me that they hate their job (or their boss), even feel physically ill when entering their office building, but are still adamant about giving it another year so it doesn’t look bad on their résumé.

Listen, as someone who probably does look like a job-hopper on her résumé, I can tell you from experience that sticking with your emotionally abusive employer is literally the worst thing you can do for your finances and career.

Sticking It Out Could Impact Your Mental Health

When you get a new job, it’s exciting and new, and you want to put your best foot forward. You’ve got a clean slate and an opportunity to prove to your boss and peers that you were hired for a reason and won’t let them down.

So, you hustle like crazy for the first few months until your probationary period is over. Besides finally getting access to your work benefits, you may even receive a little bonus to kick-off being a permanent employee. Life is good.

Then a year goes by. You pass your annual review with flying colours, and in your head this signals that a raise or promotion (or both) aren’t too far behind, so you keep on doing your best work, coming in early, leaving late, and always taking on extra responsibilities with a smile.

Then another year passes by and you wonder “Where’s that raise and/or promotion?” Maybe you’re just being impatient. Or maybe you’re not working hard enough. So you hustle even harder to finally get noticed.

You’re almost at your third work anniversary now and feel like a train losing steam. You’ve given this job all you’ve got, but you’re still being treated the same as co-workers who put in half the effort as you.

Naturally, you start to psychoanalyze every little thing to death. Maybe you actually weren’t working hard enough. Maybe you’re actually not as good at your job as you thought you were. Maybe your boss hates you and you never picked up on it. Maybe it’s not the company or your boss that’s mistreating you, maybe it’s you and you deserve it!

You start paying less attention to your work. You start calling in sick more. You start taking longer lunches. You start fading into the background because if they don’t care, neither do you.

But you also can’t stop thinking about it. You have stress dreams about work. You start getting anxious Sunday night just thinking about another week at the office. You use every ounce of energy you have to not quit every Friday because you don’t have a backup plan. But you’re exhausted, depressed and feel completely worthless. What started as “Life is good!” has somehow become “What is my life?”

Does any of this sound familiar?

If you’ve ever stuck it out at a job too long, then it should. When you give a job your best effort and receive nothing in return, it affects your mental health. It just does. It makes you question your value, your work ethic, and can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical illness.

And what happens when you’ve got anxiety, depression or feel physically ill all the time? You start emotionally spending. You want to buy something that’ll make you feel better, even for just a little while. So, you spend your money based on how you feel instead of what’s logical and smart, draining your bank account and racking up debt on your credit card.

If that isn’t hard enough on your finances, it could also cost you money in medical bills, therapy sessions, float tanks, meditation retreats, or anything else you need to throw money at to get back to the old you who was so full of hope and hustle at the start.

Sticking It Out Could Mean You Getting Burnt Out

Another outcome of working for a company that doesn’t build you up, but instead takes everything it can from you, is burnout. Nod your head “Yes” if you’ve experienced work burnout. Because I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this right now, you have.

I certainly have. On multiple occasions. But the thing with work burnout is it’s so subtle. It creeps up on you without you even noticing, until one day you find yourself lying facedown on your living room floor unable to move due to complete exhaustion.

It’s a terrible feeling to be burnt out. That feeling of not having anymore energy to keep going or to steer yourself in another direction. You no longer have the desire to go to networking events, reach out to your contacts about job leads, or apply to new positions, because your gas tank is empty and you left your wallet at home.

Listen to me, you need to leave your terrible job before you get burnt out. Why? Because when you’re job searching while burnt out, you’ll take whatever job that comes your way. Not necessarily one that’s a better fit, or has a better salary, or has a better work environment. You’ll just take anything that’s not your current job.

And what’s the point in that? The point of leaving was to go someplace better, not just same same but different!

So if you’re starting to feel tired all the time, always feeling negative and grumpy at work, and maybe even a bit snippy when someone asks you to do something, acknowledge that you might be getting burnt out and do something about it…now!

Don’t Stick It Out, Stick It to ‘Em and GTFO!

At the start of this post, I mentioned how a big reason why millennials feel like they ought to stay with a job they hate is because they’re afraid it could negatively impact them in the future.

Okay, here’s some real talk for you. It won’t. At the end of the day, when you’re interviewing for a new job, they’re more interested in if you can actually do the job instead of if you stayed at your last workplace for 1 year or 2 years. If you’ve got the skills and confidence to back it up, you’ll outshine anyone who doesn’t have the same skills or confidence but stayed at their last job for 5 years.

So, if you’re hating your job right now, GTFO! Take a risk, update your cover letter, start searching for new positions in your field, start putting feelers out to your network, and get excited about making a big, positive change in your life.

Showing 16 comments
  • Brittany @ Tiny Ambitions

    Thank you so much for talking about such an important topic! My partner recently had two short stints at places that just weren’t a good fit and he was very, very concerned about how that would look on his resume. Now, he’s found a great position and it didn’t matter about his job-hopping. It’s much better to get out of a situation that isn’t working for you, then stick it out for a line on your resume.

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Absolutely. From all the interviews I’ve been on (and I’ve been on MANY), the interviewer was always more concerned about if you could do the job the well and fit into that workplace’s environment. Rarely did they ever question me for having a couple employers for short periods of time. They just want to find the best person for the job at the end of the day.

  • Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    I stayed 4 years at my job with a theatre, and should have left after 2. No, I should have ran much sooner than that.

    I was promised a pay increase after my 3 month probation period, which of course, never came. Over my 4 years there, I received ONE raise for less than 1%. Instead, I took on a second, part time job with the same theatre to make ends meet. Of course, this only made me burn out faster.

    I’ve only been with my new job for a year, but I’m already seriously looking into what’s next. It’s a union position, so I know exactly when and for how much my raises will be. No matter how hard I work, I won’t get a raise for those efforts. I know this job won’t be my career. I’m just not sure what job will be just yet 🙂

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      The good thing is because you had that one job for 4 years and realized you should have left sooner, you won’t make that mistake again. It sucks getting settled at a job only to realize it’s not a great fit, but as you build more experience and hone your craft, the good news is it’ll get easier to to find a new job!

  • Reply

    Super helpful and inspiring post, Jessica! Mental health is directly related to financial health… I think! Also, super interesting to see generational trends in this regard. Thanks for writing and sharing this, Jessica! Loved it.

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      You are so welcome, thanks for reading!

  • Heather

    This really hit home as I am starting to go through this right now. I’ve been working for a great company for three and a half years, my first real grown up job right out of university. I really lucked out with this one in terms of the experience. The pay and benefits have been okay too for an entry level job and I did get promoted last year. Lately however, i’ve been starting to really dread going to work and just feeling burnt out and unmotivated. The company I work for is going through a change in ownership and things are just chaos & disorganized right now. My workload has also increased tremendously and at this point, the pay is not nearly enough to make it worth the extra work i’m doing. So I’m starting to update the resume and see what’s out there. Although it’s definitely intimidating having to go through the job hunting process again. I’ve made a lot of good friends & connections at this job and i’ll be sad to leave, but at this point the time is right to make a change. Thanks so much for this!

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      One of the things I always hated about thinking about leaving was not being around all the co-workers/friends I was used to. After years of working together, you really do create some strong relationships. But what I also realized that you can still be friends after you leave. It’ll take more effort, but I still keep in touch with a number of old co-workers now outside of work and it’s great. Best of luck on the job hunt!

  • Pam

    I agree that staying at a job that does not satisfy you at all isn’t great but too many job changes can reflect poorly on your ability to fit. I do a lot of resume screening (I work in engineering) and honestly it takes the better part of 2 years before we get people operating at a great level. The more senior the person we’re hiring the longer it can take to get fully integrated into our business. If I see a candidate that doesn’t have one stint longer than 3 year over a 10 year career I won’t even do a pre-screen.

    If you hate your job, if it is a poor fit, if it makes you unhappy – leave. But not all fields have the same acceptance of job hopping as others.

    I have a friend in communications and she thinks that if someone stays at a job longer than 3 years they weren’t very driven as they should have outgrown the role – in engineering consulting 3 years and you’re just hitting your stride and building a career.

  • Adriana @MoneyJourney

    Great post and one I can definitely relate to.

    I left my old job because of all the reasons you mentioned: I was undervalued on a daily basis, was seriously underpaid and, even though my bosses promised me the sun and moon & stars if I stayed, any opportunities to move up in the company never came along.

    I stayed with them for less than a year then quit. And you know what? After I quit, others left as well. Employee after employee chose to quit in search of something better. I’m actually surprised the company is still up and running 😀

  • Reply

    Yes, I can imagine the stress. It’s better to give yourself at least six months to think it over…if you really want to stay longer, if you’re happy working AND if you can be that happy working in the same company year after year.

  • Personal Alpha Investments

    Great article.

    No point in continuing at the workplace if its not working out. Also, I feel most the corporations and managers know exactly what to say to keep you interested. They’ll be super nice to your face, but your bank account would tell you something else. You must look at the cold hard facts!

    One key point though, you need to insulate yourself before you pull the plug. No point in pulling the plug when you’re not ready to handle it financially.

  • Sam @ LifeOnCredit.ca

    I never liked the idea of working for somebody else, and I started working for myself at a relatively early age. I never regretted my decision. Sometimes it’s stressful, but overall it’s well worth it. I choose my own working hours and I like what I do – you can’t beat that :).

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Agreed, it’s not easy being self-employed but there are a lot of benefits too. And sometimes certain people are just more cut out for that self-employed life. There is the saying after all: “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” That’s definitely my life now. I’m much happier working 80 hours per week for myself than 40 for someone else.

  • katerina zacharopoulou

    i agree great work amazing .thanks for sharing this article

    • Jessica Moorhouse

      Thanks so much!

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