It sure feels like the average person hates their job. I mean this newsletter is called “I Hate it Here” for a reason…

We’ve been in a pandemic for over two years and, throughout that time, employee engagement decreased for the first time in over a decade

Are you surprised? I’m not! 

We haven’t quite figured out the shift to hybrid work, layoffs have picked up this last year, inflation is high and reports are predicting a recession where an additional 1.2 million employees could lose their jobs. 

That’s a lot. 

Take the Great Resignation as a sign. Employees were quitting in waves, fueled by dissatisfaction with compensation, culture, or work-life balance. 

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 revealed it might be worse than any of us think. 

  • 60% of people are emotionally detached at work 
  • 19% are miserable (yes you read that right: miserable!)
  • 33% of people report being engaged 
  • Employee stress is at an all time high (In the US 50% of employees report being stressed)

Spoiler alert: employees are unhappy. 

What do employees do when they are unhappy? They usually start looking for new jobs. 

But it’s not that simple. The recession has a lot of job seekers rethinking their plans and opting to wait it out. 

What this means for People teams:

If the average employee is not engaged or is actively disengaged, what does that mean for People teams?

Well, our already difficult jobs become even harder.  

For every initiative we plan, we’ll ultimately have less employee buy-in. Morale will be impacted, as will productivity. 

Great talent will leave in search of a better work environment. Attrition will go up, then Recruiting will be tasked with filling those roles and engagement initiatives will be kicked off. 

It is a vicious cycle, doomed to be repeated over and over again. The Groundhog’s Day of HR. 

And HR/People teams are tasked with managing all of the above — and more!


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It’s not an easy job. 

We’re overtasked and managing uncharted territories. 

The pivot to remote work during a global pandemic and all the uncertainty associated with the future of work has massively impacted HR/People teams.

We’re just trying to do our best but the harsh truth is that some workplaces are beyond saving. 

So, what do we do? Stay and try to fix a broken environment or move on?

How to know it’s time to leave a job:

I’m here to help you figure out when it could be time to move on. 

Last week I said I love quitting jobs. It doesn’t scare me to say that an environment isn’t for me —and the flip side of that is not every environment deserves me. 

As Drake would say, “know yourself, know your worth.”

I want to work somewhere that acknowledges my greatness. You probably do as well! 

There are 3 signs that usually point to me knowing it’s time to GTFO:

1. Burnout: In 2019 the World Health Organization classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon stating chronic workplace stress results in burnout.

Ask yourself, in regards to work:

  • Do you have no energy or chronically feel exhausted?
  • How do you feel about your job? 
  • Do you think you are successful at work?

If you’re feeling exhausted, like you’re not doing a good job and you are ineffective at work, well you might be burned out. 

How this manifests for me: I feel like I’m fighting the same battles over and over again and it compounds until I have no energy to fight anymore so I just give in and maintain the status quo.  

2. Lack of upward mobility: If I don’t feel like I’m growing professionally I begin to disconnect very quickly. 

For HR/People teams, we’re usually focused on helping everyone around us grow and develop! We’re building competency maps and growth plans for our peers! 

But what about us? 

We put most teams before our own. It’s a bad habit and one that I know contributes to a lot of folks leaving their jobs. 

Managers will have a huge impact here. Again, working to train your managers on how to talk about growth and development with their teams is a GAME CHANGER. 

How this manifests for me: I start doing work above my current job description, but due to some archaic rules, I don’t get a promotion, title, or compensation I deserve — AND my boss is already at that level — so there’s nowhere to go

3. Lack of Executive buy-in: We’ve all been in that situation where we see a huge disconnect between what employees want and what executives are advocating for. 

COUGH return to the office COUGH. 

Lack of executive buy-in is a huge problem for HR/People teams! Our work is sometimes viewed as “touchy feely” or “emotional” because… well, IT CAN BE. We are responsible for how employees “feel” at work, aka employee engagement.

But when we show up to the table with just feelings, we’re taken less seriously. 

There has been a huge push to be more analytical and data driven in HR. I don’t disagree with that, but we’re also dealing with humans at work, NOT robots. Not everything can be distilled down into a metric or a score. 

Some executives over index on KPIs, metrics or goals and don’t stop to think, “How are my employees experiencing this company?”

Getting their buy-in on more inclusive benefits, flexible work, or even DEI can feel like an uphill battle. If they can’t see the direct correlation to performance and productivity, they don’t want to invest the time. 

How this manifest for me: I try to get buy-in to do things like a DEI survey or offering more inclusive healthcare and I’m met with resistance. Every decision is met with resistance because the executive team doesn’t understand or assign value to the work I’m focused on. 

If any (or ALL) of the 3 of these show up in my workplace, that’s usually a sign that I need to explore other opportunities. 

Pro-tip: I do not leave my current job without another one lined up. I’m a bit risk-adversed in that way. If you want to quit without something lined up, you do you! It’s just not for me. 

The search for great company culture: 

Do you have that little voice in your head that says it’s going to be the same everywhere? 

Spoiler alert: It’s somewhat true. 

There are a lot of bad company cultures and some are impossible to avoid! We’re all basically lying to each other in the interview process and putting our best foot forward. 

The #1 thing you can do is make sure that your values align with the company & leadership. How do you do this?

  1. Define your values – what are your 3 values?
  2. Ask questions in the interview process to understand if the company aligns with your values 
  3. Assess and decide to continue or move on

An example: Over the years I’ve distilled my values down to 3. I assess every company against those 3 values. Looking back on my career I know why I did not enjoy certain companies. It was because I didn’t know what I valued. 

My values: honesty, curiosity, and gratitude. 

I want to be honest about what’s happening no matter how difficult the truth is.

I want to be able to ask questions and dive into areas outside my scope with genuine curiosity. 

I am grateful for every day I have. I want to give and receive appreciation to all around me for the work being done. 

What I would ask in an interview: (gratitude value) 

  • When was the last time you publicly acknowledged someone’s good work? How did you do it?
  • When was the last time someone acknowledged your good work?

This list shares another 40 questions you can ask in interviews to understand company culture. 

The search for a great job is a never ending one! Just don’t compromise your values, take it from me, it won’t work out.

Hebba Youssef
Hebba Youssef

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