You might not always love your job, but you do love getting regular paychecks. However, a toxic job is never worth the pay.
No one deserves to deal with stress and trauma that comes from a toxic work environment. There are far too many other options available to you. You could even start your own business and leave the daily grind behind.
Before you just walk out, which is definitely something to do sooner than later, there are a few things to put in order before you quit a toxic job.
Signs of a Toxic Job
Before getting into how to prepare, take a moment to see if you actually have a toxic job. After all, everyone has days where they hate their job. It’s when just the thought of going in each day is physically and mentally draining that it’s likely toxic.
A few signs of toxic environments include:
- Consistent negative gossip
- Leaders that value only themselves
- Dangerous working conditions (without safety precautions in place)
- Constantly changing rules and requirements
- Unrealistic standards
- Unusually high levels of illness
Toxic workplaces have a tendency to make people unhealthy. After all, stress does it take its toll on you after a while. According to one study, unemployed individuals that got a job in a toxic environment felt worse and more stressed than their unemployed counterparts.
According to a RAND study, almost 20% of Americans deal with hostile social environments at work. Over 50% of Americans felt their working conditions were unpleasant or even hazardous.
If you feel you’re in a toxic job, you’re not alone. Now is the time to start preparing to quit and finally find a better work/life balance. Staying leads to physical pain, emotional distress, lack of sleep, inability to focus and more.
How to Prepare to Quit Your Toxic Job
1. Ask for a Change or Prepare to Quit.
You don’t always have to quit your job. Depending on what’s toxic about your job, moving to a different department or location (for multi-site companies) could solve all your problems. For instance, if your co-workers are making life horrible, ask for a transfer or promotion.
Sometimes employers are more than willing to work with you. They don’t want to lose a high-value employee. It never hurts to ask, especially if you like the work itself.
If a change isn’t possible, prepare to quit.
This means starting to move out a few personal belongings a little at a time and polishing your resume. Clean out any personal files, emails and contacts from your computer. The last thing you want is a toxic job having more personal information about you than they already do.
2. Start Taking Better Care of Yourself.
Making the decision to quit any job isn’t easy. You know the road ahead is paved with financial issues and job hunting woes. You have no clue how long you might be unemployed.
Ensure you’re ready to handle this stress confidently by taking better care of yourself now. Just knowing you’re going to quit soon makes the toxic job not seem quite as bad.
Some simple ways to help yourself feel better include:
- Getting more sleep, even if it means taking naps
- Taking some time to yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes of doing something you love each day
- Adding in exercise, such as cardio or yoga
- Eating healthier, even if you’d rather binge on some Ben & Jerry’s to relieve stress
- Spending time with loved ones
- Meditating to reduce stress
You’ll notice positive changes quickly. This also boosts your confidence and ability to handle stress.
3. Create an Unemployment Plan.
The next step is one of the hardest. You have to create an unemployment plan. This serves as the roadmap for your immediate future.
Start by analyzing your finances. Do you have enough to be completely unemployed? If so, for how long? How can you revise your budget to make your unemployed time easier?
Next, make a list of your potential options. This includes looking for a similar job, trying something new, going back to school, starting your own business or if you have a spouse and kids, staying home with the kids and living on a single income.
The next step is to set weekly or monthly goals for transitioning into unemployment and back to being employed. This can include everything from saving up at your current job for a set period to sending in X number of applications weekly.
Finally, create a timeline. This helps you to stay on track. You’ll also feel better about leaving a toxic job if you’re prepared.
4. Find a Basic Job for Now.
If you don’t have a financial cushion, don’t give up. You may have to stay at your job at most another month while you find a temporary bridge job. Even if it’s something as simple as a part-time position at your local mall, it’s still better than what you’re dealing with now.
Obviously, you’ll want something that allows you to pay the bills until you find a true replacement. This is where the budgeting portion of your unemployment plan comes into play.
Now isn’t the time to be prideful. This job is just temporary. Besides, you’ll feel better after you quit a toxic job.
When people say any job is better than no job, they haven’t worked under toxic conditions before. Any job is better than a toxic one though.
If possible, stay at your job up to two months longer and search for a full-time replacement. You might not even have to have an unemployment period if you get your resume polished and start applying for jobs right now.
5. Gather Support.
It’s not always easy to quit, especially when you don’t have another job lined up. You’ll need a support system. Talk to friends and family. You may even have co-workers that are ready to quit with you.
Having support means you won’t chicken out on quitting and you won’t fall into a depression while job hunting.
6. Decide What You Want Next.
Finally, take a moment to decide what you want next.
Do you like what you do or is it just a job? What do you love to do? Now’s the time to think about what you want and what would make you happy.
After all, you’ll be more productive and feel better if you’re doing something you enjoy.
So that’s what you do right before you quit your toxic job. Good luck!
About The Author
Eric Czerwonka is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Buddy Punch, an employee time tracking software company founded in 2013 that provides employee management solutions for any small and large companies alike – anyone with employees from startups right to corporations and anyone with a remote team to manage.