Sound familiar? (Picture: Getty)
Have you ever found yourself feeling trapped in a job you hate, but need to pay the bills?
Maybe you’re there now.
With the cost of living crisis still weighing heavy, it’s no wonder many of us would rather suffer for 40 hours a week for the sake of some security.
This is called resenteeism, and if you find yourself dreading going into work, talking (read: complaining) about work a lot in your spare time, or begin feeling apathetic towards your work, but staying in the job anyway, you’re probably familiar with the feeling.
What causes resenteeism?
According to workplace mental health consultant Pete White, there are a multitude of reasons why people end up hating their jobs, from poor leadership, a lack of career progression, toxic workplace culture and, of course, overworking.
‘Overworking has become a huge issue since Covid-19, when the lines between work and home became blurred,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.
‘People can feel expected to have to maintain the same pattern and rate of work meaning that their working day doesn’t finish when the office closes, for many it feels like work never finishes because they’re taking phone calls and answering emails in their personal time.’
Sirsha Haldar, general manager of ADP UK, a leading Payroll and HR provider, suggests that the Great Resignation may have played a part in the rise of resenteeism.
‘Many organisations are also struggling to replace existing staff, either due to skills shortages or smaller staffing budgets,’ she explains.
‘This will undoubtedly lead to frustration amongst employees, increasing the risk of resenteeism.’
Burnout is a huge factor in the rise of resenteeism (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Sadie Restorick, a psychosocial risk consultant specialising in workplace mental health hazards at Wellity Global, believes that workplace culture plays the most significant role in resenteeism.
‘When an employee refers to their job as something they hate, as opposed to mildly dislike, it usually refers to the workplace culture itself, and behaviours that are deemed toxic and unhealthy, which the employee feels powerless to change,’ she tells us.
‘We come to work to feel motivated, appreciated and experience a sense of autonomy and purpose.
‘We expect to be respected and treated fairly, and be supported by those around us, and by the wider organisation.
‘When any of these variables are lacking, it can quickly lead to us feeling demotivated, despondent and feeling that our work is something that takes more from us than it gives.’
Why do people get stuck in jobs they hate?
There are numerous factors why someone might stay in a job that’s making them miserable, the most prominent, of course, being financial.
‘The biggest reason that people stay in a job they hate is simply because of the responsibility they feel to provide for their families and maintain finances like mortgage and bills,’ says Pete.
‘The employment market is volatile and the opportunities available can vary day-to-day so it can feel safer to stay put with what you know.’
There’s also the fear of the unknown: what if your next job is much worse? What if the commute is longer, the culture is even more toxic or you end up feeling even less secure?
But beyond these – very reasonable – material reasons for staying put, there are also less tangible factors that may be at play, namely, a lack of confidence.
Don’t let imposter syndrome stifle your opportunities (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
‘Imposter syndrome has a big part to play here,’ says Pete.
‘Many people don’t feel like they’re good enough to be in the job they’re already in so the idea of moving somewhere new is too daunting.’
Sadie adds that these feelings can be exasperated by a toxic workplace.
‘Poor self-esteem and self-worth are frequently associated with toxic workplace cultures, so if negative work relationships have been prevalent employees may lack the confidence to seek a new role and feel worthy of success,’ she says.
‘Additionally, burnout levels have significantly increased across our working populations, which is synonymous with exhaustion, apathy and cynicism, all of which can make it difficult to find the energy and motivation to seek new opportunities.’
How can resenteeism impact your mental health?
The problem is that, despite the risks, staying in your job can impact your mental health, and not just while you’re in the office.
As psychologist Dr Samantha Madhosingh tells us: ‘Your mental health will be impacted both in and out of the office – it may look differently in both places, but it’ll definitely show up in both places and everywhere else too.
‘When someone hates their job and feels angry, hopeless, and frustrated these become symptoms of depression and possibly anxiety.
‘You may feel irritable and short-tempered and this will impact your relationships at home because you may argue with your kids and significant other more.
‘You may notice yourself losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, being snappy with your loved ones, withdrawing from friends and family and wanting to isolate yourself.
‘If it goes on too long, this intense distress can also lead to physical health issues because stress is the cause of so many health problems.’
So, you’re stuck in a job you hate – what can you do about it?
‘On average we spend 3500 days in work during our lifetime, so don’t waste it working somewhere you hate,’ says Pete.
‘If you hate your job then something needs to change.’
Below are some tips on what you can do…
Advocate for yourself
It’s important to note that this doesn’t have to mean quitting on the spot. If you feel comfortable, why not bring your concerns to your manager?
‘Make a list of pros and cons of the job and what is and is not possible to change,’ says Samantha.
‘Then identify what it would take to leave and decide what you want to do.
‘If there are things that can change, be an advocate for yourself and talk to management about how things might work better for everyone.’
Joining a union is a good way to make sure you have some backing when it comes to advocating for your rights, especially when it comes to pay and working conditions.
Have a conversation with your boss (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Take back control
Where you can, try to take some control of the situation, especially if your resentment is stemming from being overworked and undervalued.
‘Look at what adjustments you can make to help,’ says Pete.
‘Maybe a simple walk at lunch, getting to know your colleagues more or planning your day ahead (as much as you can do) helps.
‘Use your breaks to actually take a break.
Many people are using their breaks for things like deep breathing, reading or even a mini exercise session – all of those things increase dopamine and endorphin levels which boosts our mood.’
Make sure work isn’t your whole life
Frustrations from work can often arise when we aren’t enriching our lives outside of the workplace.
‘It is also important to understand that your job doesn’t necessarily have to be the source of your joy, and be intentional about how you spend your time when you are not at work,’ says Samantha.
Pete agrees, saying: ‘Sports, hobbies, quality family time and even sleep are great ways to reduce stress.’
Take the leap and quit
Finally, it’s important to know that you can quit if you want to.
‘If you choose to stay in the job, it’s important to realise that you are making a choice and that you are not stuck,’ says Samantha.
While it’s perfectly normal to be worried, especially if you’re worried about money.
But you can make small moves to find other work while you stay in your job – it isn’t all or nothing.
Remember, your life is in your hands. As Pete says: ‘We might assume nothing will change, but if we do nothing about it, then nothing will change.’
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Take control of your happiness.