Lucky is the person who has never taken five in the work toilets to have a little cry and fantasise about jacking it all in to do literally anything else.
Up until recently, complaining about bosses, wages and hours was par for the career course, with episodes of burnout and simmering resentment a certainty.
But the pandemic made us re-evaluate. In what has been dubbed the Great Resignation, one in five of us plan to quit in the next 12 months, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey this May.
All of this is familiar to Anniki Sommerville, whose new book The Big Quit serves as a guide for those who want to change their relationship with work.
For some, it will provide the impetus to resign but for many, the ‘quit’ will be stopping bad habits.
Anniki – an author, broadcaster and host of the Hotbed Collective podcast – is also head of content and branding at healthcare company Jude. She recalls having had dead-end jobs and apologising too much.
‘A lot of people are feeling consistently drained or trapped by work, which is not right or sustainable,’ she says.
Burnout is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’, with one report by HR consultant Ceridian finding some 79% of UK employees had experienced it.
Anniki believes that many of us are living with symptoms of burnout, including short tempers, crying, insomnia and catastrophising.
One group Anniki feels are particularly disillusioned are women in their 40s and 50s who have taken time out to have children or are struggling with menopause and don’t feel supported at work. She also debunks the notion of the ‘dream job’.
‘We have to stop thinking work is meant to be full throttle the whole time,’ she says. ‘You set your expectations.
‘If you receive an email or Slack message and you reply in ten seconds, the expectation that shapes is that you will continue to do that. You are setting your own record time.’
Anniki also warns against the perils of people-pleasing – where one puts others’ needs ahead of their own in the hope that they will gain respect, recognition or affection.
‘Even if you can’t quit your job, you can learn to quit your catastrophising and people-pleasing within your current role,’ she says.
Five pieces of valuable advice for anyone with a job from Anniki Sommerville’s The Big Quit:
The Big Quit by Anniki Sommerville is published by Thread.
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