A bad day in the office once in a while is fine, but long periods of being disheartened about the job or frequent lapses at work are an indication that the job may no longer interest you.
But before you decide to look for an alternative, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. What are you unhappy about -- your job or your career? Is your dissatisfaction directly linked to a colleague or your boss? Do you see your long-term goals being met?
NDTV spoke to two HR managers, one at an event management firm, and another at a consumer goods company. Here's what they have to say:
1. Underperformance: Constant failure to adhere to deadlines, negligence at work and lack of new ideas are a sure shot indicator that you might be on your way out. If you have reached a phase when you find it tough to match your usual performance levels, whether due to huge targets, competitive colleagues or lack of expertise, you should start looking for another job. Of course, you should not be jumping to conclusions. Discuss with your boss the long-term plans and where you fit in. Perhaps others in your team are feeling equally low and are facing the same performance issues due to the overall negative mood in the company. "Most employees don't share their bad phases with colleagues and hope to ride it out on their own. This should always be avoided. If you have been a good performer, or even average, then it is best you speak to one or two people before taking any decision," said Vikram Sehgal, an HR manager at a Delhi-based event management company.
2. Long-term goals no longer match: As you rise the ranks, do you also see yourself getting closer to your own goal? While we take up new jobs we think will take us closer to our long-term goals, we often end up getting too engrossed in the day-to-day activities that we deviate from the path we had set for ourselves. "Every three months, look at what you have been doing and how it will help you reach your goal," says Abhimanyu Vatsa, who works in the HR department of an FMCG company. "Short stints of 'waywardness' are fine, since you may be required to fill in for someone, but don't get your goal out of sight. If you get too deeply involved in something, getting out may become difficult."
3. You are not paid industry standards, or your peers are paid more: Salary is a sensitive issue and is often the primary deciding factor when we take up a new job. While pay negotiations at a new job are in our hands, hikes at appraisals are not. An average or poor appraisal at your department coupled with a good appraisal elsewhere can be demoralizing. The performance of the company and the sector that the company operates in play a huge role in determining the appraisal. "FMCG companies are all-weather companies. You will never see a lull here. At best, a few blips every now and then," says Vatsa. "Same is the case with pharma companies. There's no off season. But IT and auto companies are different. A weak US and European economy means bad business for IT. So it's not rational to compare appraisals." The best way to deal with this, says Vatsa, is to see how companies of the same size in the same sector pay their employees. A 10-15 per cent deviation is acceptable, but anything less means you are not paid enough. So should you quit straightaway? No. Discuss this with your boss. Find out where you can improve, whether educational qualifications and experience are significant contributors, or whether a particular skill set is needed. Only once you know where the problem lies should you decide whether to work on your skill and qualifications or to quit.
4. The job is keeping you away from other significant things in life: "A work-life balance is critical for the employer and the employee. An unhappy employee will never be able to contribute," says Sehgal, who has seen several employees quit for reasons such as not being able to spend adequate time with the family, inability to focus on children's education, etc. "Long working hours or too much travelling time are often cited as reasons in exit interviews," he says. "Fat bonuses, fancy designations and perks won't keep you happy for long." He says people often fall for salaries, bonuses, perks and incentives while taking up a job, since they look at these as a ladder to their success, and while this may get people closer to their goals, it takes them away from their family. So what's the solution? "Our company allows employees to work from home once a week. There's also a monthly lunch where families are also invited. This way, the family is better connected to the employee and has a better understanding of work". Vatsa adds: "This is not exactly a job-related issue, so don't treat it like one. Have a casual meeting with your boss, explain to him that while you love your job, you are unable to find time for your family. If you are a good worker, there are chances that some adjustments will be made"
5. You are finding it difficult to meet your financial goals: Career goals and financial goals should never be mixed, because to fulfill one you will end up deviating from the other. Buying a house, a car and giving the children good education are usually the top priorities, and these require money. "You should not work for money alone. But at the same time keep track of where you are placed in terms of your finances," says Vatsa. "Two people with the same work experience and the same salary may have different financial goals. One may want to own a Rs 1 crore house, while the other may be happy with a Rs 40 lakh apartment. Clearly, the goals are very different." Vatsa says the best way out is to look at investment avenues that could boost the employee's savings. Higher education and an overseas job are also good options.