Bad Reasons to Stay with a Bad Job

I’m so grateful for the company I work for and the job I have now. Their work-life balance is excellent. I am compensated appropriately. I am growing in my career. I am respected by what I can bring to the discussion table. My boss is a great leader… I could go on and on. However, I wouldn’t be able to say any of this if I had never left my old jobs. These previous bad jobs were companies where my growth was limited, my work was not valued, and my stress levels were continuously elevated.

Leaving a job isn’t easy. When I left my previous jobs, there were various reasons why I should have stayed, but none of the reasons were worth it to me. Below are some reasons that echoed back and forth through my head during my job transitions, but also are the reasons why I didn’t let them stop me. I want to share them to hopefully help people who feel trapped or manipulated by their employer find hope in a brighter, healthier future.

  1. “We’ll give you more money.” Unless you were looking for another job purely because of financial issues, this one should not deter you. For me, money was obviously one of the issues but the reason I wanted to leave exceeded the fiscal compensation. I think it is something we easily get hooked on, but a couple things I realized was that I could typically make more or as much in a job switch anyway. Secondly, the money is only one form of compensation. There are many ways you feel valued from your employer and money is the cheapest and easiest thing for them to offer you – culture change, servant leadership, and work-life-balance are the harder, more costly things that employers rarely offer to change or even have the capacity to do so.
  2. “I’m not qualified to work anywhere else.” This is a huge lie we tell ourselves. I think that sometimes when we are in a bad job, we have a lower opinion of ourselves which adds to this fallacy. If you are determined and work hard, you can find a job that advances your career. You can find a job that you can be happy in.
  3. “The company will be devastated without me.” This was one that really haunted me. For a while I thought I was really being unfair to my other coworkers. This lie was probably one part pride on my own self and another part manipulation on the part of the employer. I wanted to feel like they really needed me. I wanted to feel important and valued – after all that’s what I was lacking from my employer the whole time! On their part – they were being unfair. If I was truly “irreplaceable” then they did a poor job showing or demonstrating it – was I supposed to assume that from the 80 hour work weeks? If you find yourself in this situation, do some deep soul searching. You don’t want to screw over your company but you have to do what’s right for you and your family. I believe, at the end of the day you won’t be accountable for the amount of hours you worked on a weekend; you’ll be accountable for how you stewarded your time and resources for your family.
  4. “Anywhere you go you will have to work like this.” Speaking of “80 hour work weeks”… That obviously should not be the norm. There comes times for it. There will always be tax season, new product launches, or big events, but life comes in ebbs and flows. When I was contemplating leaving I refused to believe this reason was true – I knew it wasn’t. I had experienced more appropriately balanced companies in my past. This might be the majority in our culture, but as someone who wishes his dad just could have made it to more of his soccer games, I beg you to label this as a lie and strive diligently to find that balance.
  5. “You’re just being sensitive. Everyplace has issues like this.” Sallie Krawcheck said, “If it comes down to your ethics vs. a job, choose ethics. You can always find another job.” If you have something that is searing your conscious or your psyche – at a certain point either that something needs to break or you will. I determined in my mind that I didn’t want to become like the people I worked for. I knew there had to be better, more tolerant work environments, and there were. I realized that I needed to leave the bad environment before I was associated with it. Not every place has these issuesThere is hope for change.
  6. “I can’t look for a new job. My employer might find out.” When you have a good company or a good boss this one typically is a moot point because they are focused on your personal growth. However, when you have a bad boss or you work for a bad company this one is really hard because often bad companies correlates to the companies that will fire you if they know you are looking to leave – and technically they have every right to do so (read more). I saved up just in case, but started looking on the sly. It paid off. My employer was ticked with only having a two week notice, but I wasn’t about to willingly risk my family for the sake of their comfort – nor would they have for mine. Additionally, here is a good article from Forbes on The Dos and Don’ts of Job Searching While You’re Still Employed
  7. “You should finish the project you are on.” Unless you happen to be on the verge of curing cancer or have some contractual agreement, if you give into this you will forever be stuck. There is always going to be a project that is “important.” Obviously you don’t want to leave your employer high and dry, but you can’t let a never ending project or string of projects keep you tied up. You should do your best to make sure you do right by your employer, but you need to do what’s right for you and your family as well. In many circumstances you have given your employer a lot already. Don’t miss out on a great new opportunity because of an inconsequential project.
  8. “I haven’t been at the company long enough.” If you have been at your employer for about a year and you have a solid reason why you are leaving, I believe you have been at this bad company for long enough. has a good article about How Long Should You Stay at Your Job that I would recommend reading as well. Particularly relating to millennials Kaytie Zimmerman said in her Forbes article, “Millennials can earn a higher salary, grow their career, change locations more frequently, and find a better cultural fit from job-hopping. The negative stigma is on its way out, so people should lean into the positive outcomes from making a change.” 

I didn’t let these eight erroneous reasons keep me at a bad job. Leaving a bad job isn’t easy, but I truly believe the outcomes from this change outweigh the awkwardness or other temporary social discomfort. As a hard-working, motivated, ethical employee – you deserve employment where are you respected and inspired. Simon Sinek says in his book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, 

“Returning from work feeling inspired, safe, fulfilled and grateful is a natural human right to which we are all entitled and not a modern luxury that only a few lucky ones are able to find.”

It shouldn’t be natural to hate or despise your employer. So, if that is you, what reasons are keeping you from finding that healthier and more balanced company?

Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts?