Second opinions

06/29/2022

When is the right time to quit your job?



Ellis Cheng FCPA, Chief Financial Officer, Kerry Logistics Network Limited

The ongoing pandemic continues to cast a shadow over the global economy. Amid an increasingly challenging business environment, many companies are being forced to make tough decisions about the size of their workforce.

Meanwhile, employees who have enjoyed the benefits of working from home are reassessing their work-life balance. Others have decided to start their own remote-working ventures or emigrated in search of a new role.

These circumstances have combined to create unprecedented levels of staff turnover. While it may seem like a tempting time to look for new opportunities, professionals ought to carefully consider what is really driving them to think about a new job. It is important that professionals understand whether they are being motivated by “push” or “pull” factors so they can make an informed decision about their future.

Push factors refer to any circumstances within an organization including a pay cut, restructuring or integration after an acquisition, or issues the employee might be experiencing at home.

Pull factors, on the other hand, relate to perceptions including better career progression opportunities, higher pay or a more prestigious job title.

When push factors mount within an organization, professionals can find themselves forced towards the exit and left with little choice other than to resign or to negotiate a redundancy package. The arrival of a colleague with a similar role or capabilities, fewer opportunities to influence decisions, or interact with superiors are among the signs an individual is being pushed out of a job. Push factors tend to lead to low motivation or boredom. 

People may sometimes feel that while they are clocking up years of service, much of their work is repetitive and they are being starved of important exposure and experience. This could be a sign for change. However, accountants reading this will be familiar with the concept of opportunity cost and should apply that logic to weigh up whether they are comfortable with the implications of making a wrong decision for their career, in particular the “trust” they have built within the organization.

Sustainability should be at the forefront of everybody’s mind when considering a change of job. It is crucial to question whether you could remain in any new role for a reasonable spell and whether a new employer’s future is secure. Professionals must constantly evaluate how an employer can develop their competitive edge, particularly when considering a new role. Those in a management role ought to be aware that their judgement will be scrutinized by future employers, including past career decisions.


“People may sometimes feel that while they are clocking up years of service, much of their work is repetitive and they are being starved of important exposure and experience. This could be a sign for change.”


Liz McCaughey, Psychoanalyst, Psychotherapist, Chief Executive Officer, Amindset Psychology Services

Deciding to quit is a significant moment in anyone’s professional career. It can be a difficult decision to make as it might mean pushing the pause button on steady income. Even when the negative biological signs exist, you daydream of a better life while working at a job you dislike. There are warning signs, for example those feelings of dread when it is time for work and an increased heart rate related to workplace stress, as well as feelings of exhaustion and energy depletion that lead to difficulty getting out of bed. You may experience increased mental anxiety when dealing with work peers, find yourself overreacting to minor problems and resorting to alcohol or even substance abuse to help you cope. Despite these signs, you carry on regardless, ignoring your happiness and well-being. The above biological signs are all good indicators that you need to take the blindfold off and objectively look at your life and decide if you want to make some changes – which may include a career move.

Though money is undeniably important, it is equally important to not ignore those cumulative moments of mental misery, unhappiness and anxiety you experience as a result of your job. Of course, you are not designed to be continuously happy, but neither are you meant to struggle every day. Indeed, a human’s brain is predisposed to misery, but that does not mean you have to be miserable. The competing emotions of pleasure and pain fit the reality of the living experience. But if you work in an environment that results in any of the negative biological signs mentioned above on a near-daily basis, then it may be time to quit your job and walk away.

It is impossible to be happy all the time, but you are allowed to be happy sometimes. Having a job that you find fulfilling and rewarding, and that you look forward to each work day, is possible for everyone. Take a moment to reflect. Is it time to quit your job?


“Though money is undeniably important, it is equally important to not ignore those cumulative moments of mental misery, unhappiness and anxiety you experience as a result of your job. Of course, you are not designed to be continuously happy, but neither are you meant to struggle every day.”


Benjamin Elms, Regional Director, Randstad Hong Kong 

Most of us, at some point in our careers, have wondered whether it is time to leave our job or keep holding on. However, there are telltale signs that one should identify and think through in making our decision. Here are some signs:

When you have poor work-life balance: The consequences of a poor work-life balance are much worse than you think, and may result in adverse effects on your physical and mental health. Despite this, there are many employees who still choose to sacrifice their sleep for work because they have a strong desire to get a promotion, or fear losing their jobs. 

However, there is no guarantee that your sacrifice will result in a favourable outcome. 

At some point, we all need a break from work to spend time with family or friends, or to do the things we like. While you may choose to sacrifice your personal time for a high-paying job, it may not be worth it in the long run when you miss out on important life events. A good employer should care about your overall well-being and development.

There is no potential for career progression: Most of us have a timeline of when we want to take the next step to move up the career ladder. However, what happens when you are stuck in the same position while your employer keeps hiring new employees for senior positions instead of training and promoting you? Or what happens if your employer keeps promising you that they will hire more headcount for you to take on more managerial positions but don’t fulfil their end of the bargain? 

A good company should provide ample development opportunities. Getting passed on for promotions or not having enough training opportunities can leave a bitter taste in our mouths after a while. It can also be frustrating when your contributions are not recognized by your managers, especially when you put in your heart and soul into your work. 

If you allow this to drag on, you may risk souring precious work relationships and sabotaging yourself of opportunities that could benefit you in the future.

Working for a company that doesn’t invest in your growth doesn’t only result in career stagnation, but it also compromises your salary growth potential. Instead of clouding your mind with such negative thoughts, seek opportunities with employers that are known to offer good career progression opportunities. 


If your current role offers you a good salary and benefits but no career progression, or leaves you with poor work-life balance, you should take some time to reconsider your career priorities and find out if these factors are truly important to you. 


“A good employer should care about your overall well-being and development.”