Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Three Reasons Why You Might Be Staying In A Job You Don’t Like

Chapter 5: The Role Of Circumstance

In the last post, I told the story of “Sue” who stayed in a negative working environment until she became sick, both physically and mentally.  I believe that staying in an unhealthy work environment is a form of corporate idolatry because one is following a value system that prioritizes work over personal health.  Several women I interviewed went so far as to say that they felt like they were in an abusive relationship with the company.  

[The competition for jobs in the market] makes me feel stuck and dependent on the company.  The battered wife who keeps on going back and won’t leave, sometimes I feel like that. 

People I interviewed cited a number of reasons why they don’t leave negative situations.  Here are three of them.

  1. Loyalty to peers or reports: I did not have any corporate allegiance.  I had personal allegiance to people within the company.  I wanted to protect my staff.  [Not wanting to] let that team down was part of [why I didn’t leave.] I made it my mission to at least try to make their work environment better than mine was.  It was frustrating because I could only make it so good, could only fix it so much.
  2. Learning [The executives] need to find different ways to value people.  It’s arrogant. I’ve seen a lot of turnover.  The main reason I stayed was I was learning so much.  I had a lot of great friends and colleagues.  I couldn’t have asked for a better learning experience the last few years.
  3. Momentum [I was] very well compensated and it’s hard to give up a large paycheck.  [Leaving] came to mind frequently.  One [good] thing would happen – it’s never all bad.  I’d find some silver lining, and choose to think about the action plan to fix what I wasn’t liking, visualizing success of the plan. 

But of all the circumstances I heard about, the one that had the biggest impact is the time in your career.

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  1. Greg Marcus says

    I found a really interesting page called Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships? It’s written for a young adult audience, but I think many of the reasons also explain why people stay in bad jobs.


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  3. […] life.  On the other side of the spectrum were four women that I interviewed who all independently felt like an abused spouse in relation to the […]