Unhappy At Work? - what to do next

We all have the occasional down day at work – when you’re stressed about meeting a deadline, a colleague’s mistake has a negative impact on you, your boss is in a foul mood, or when things just don’t seem to go your way. This is perfectly normal. However, if you’re finding yourself feeling unhappy at work more often than not, then you need to take action!

Feeling unhappy at work makes us less productive, less healthy and therefore generally less successful. Do you like feeling miserable? We’re guessing you don’t, so it’s important that you do not let yourself get stuck in a daily routine of misery (it’s surprising how many people do). To avoid this, you need to pinpoint the reasons for your unhappiness at work.

Don’t be afraid to fall out of love with your job, it happens. Here’s some advice to help you find the career that makes it worth getting out of bed in the morning.

We see numerous people every week who are unhappy in their current jobs and want a new challenge. There are a number of common reasons why:

1. Salary

2. The Work

3. Colleagues

4. Progression

5. Stability

6. Flexibility


3 things to ask yourself if you’re unhappy at work and unsure what to do next

1: What’s the problem?

What tasks, activities, and projects occupy most of my day? If I were performing those same activities with different people within my same company, would I be happy? What if I were performing those activities with the same team in a different organization?

Sometimes unhappiness is in one area. You sit in an extremely loud area of the environment, your manager is intolerable and colours your entire work experience, and before you know it, you’re going from, “I hate my  manager” to “I hate my job! I need to get out of here.”

But what happens when you put your emotions (and their source) in perspective. Realizing you love your team but hate taking customer complaints is valuable info, as is knowing that your daily commute is causing you mental anguish.

Of course, if your list includes literally everything about your job - your micromanaging boss, the work itself, the CEO, the location, your compensation, limited perks, and so on - then it may really not be you that’s the problem


2: How long has the problem persisted?

When I think back over the past six to 12 months, are there similar patterns of unhappiness? Have I always been unhappy in this position, or is this new? If I haven’t always felt this way, can I trace my unhappiness to a particular incident? Stock take, quarterly audit, etc.

There are bound to be ups and downs no matter where you are and who you work for. If you’re an accountant, tax time’s always going to be a stressful period. If you’re a chef, quarterly health and hygiene inspections and reports may always make you slightly crazed. If your team is being restructured, you can expect to feel some turmoil during the transition. How am I going to cover the shifts, etc?

If your dissatisfaction’s relatively new, it may be a blip on the radar that’ll resolve itself over time, particularly if you can trace your discontent to a temporary situation, like a co-worker going on leave, or a new boss bumbling along as he finds his way.

Sometimes, though, your job is just a bad fit. If you’ve never really been satisfied in your current position, expecting things to “get better” on their own is probably unrealistic. And if there’s nothing that you can do personally to make your situation better, it probably is a signal that it’s time to leave.


3: What do you want?

What would my ideal work experience - activities, team members, company - look like? If I was in charge of this company, what three changes would I make immediately?

By comparing your uncensored “ideal” to your “reality,” you can identify mismatches. Once you see those gaps, ask yourself, “How likely is it that this will change for the better?”

If your first move as company president would be to fire the entire management staff and re-create the company’s product line, you’re in for an uphill battle. But if your top priority would be to pipe music in the employee cafeteria, you’ve got a better chance of finding lasting happiness at your current company, because your disconnects are relatively minor.

Before you give up on your current company, see what you can salvage. It’s often much easier to transfer to a new role within your same team or company, than to start over from square one somewhere else.


Make a positive change

Think about what changes you can make to feel happier at work. Is your situation fixable? If it is, try having an open discussion with your Manager and see whether things improve.


Find a new job

If you are consistently unhappy at work and can’t see how the situation is going to get any better then it’s definitely time to start looking for a new job. Your health and happiness is important. It can be a challenge and it can be scary if you don’t like too much change, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Don’t settle for a mediocre role that makes you unhappy and hinders your success. There is something better out there for you!

I’d love to say there’s an absolute “right” and “wrong” time to leave your company, but it’s not that easy. Choosing whether to quit is a multi-faceted decision that requires some serious reflection.

Compare your reality with your dreams, and see how far off you are. The “ideal” position for you is out there somewhere, but finding it may be like moving across a chessboard: You might have to make a few lateral moves before you get headed in the right direction.

Before you draft your resignation letter, the survey below reveals that quitting wasn’t the key to being unhappy. 64% said that talking to a manager was step number one in order to sort things out, followed by reflecting on what’s really making you unhappy at 52%.


The 10 most common reasons for being unhappy with your job

  1. Not being paid enough – 38.9 percent
  2. No room for progression – 32.6 percent
  3. Poor company culture – 30.8 percent
  4. Poor work-life balance – 21.8 percent
  5. Boring daily routine – 18.7 percent
  6. Disliking the working hours – 15.3 percent
  7. Disliking the boss – 14.9 percent
  8. Having a long commute – 13.6 percent
  9. Disliking colleagues – 5 percent
  10. Issues in private life affecting work life – 4.8 percent


Are you unhappy with your current position?  Should you quit your job?  Do you need some assistance in sorting out your job and job search options?  If so, contact Hospitality Search International to find out how we can help.