Friday, January 14, 2011

Toxic Work Environment - What Strategies Should I Employ Before I Quit My Job?

A recent Article from Forbes.com sets forth the author's view of the "10 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job."  This is an excellent article, and the questions are insightful.

It focuses on people what want to quit their job be3cause the environment at work as turned toxic. 

The first thing my clients want to know is "Will I get Unemployment if I Quit My Job?"  Typically, the answer is "No."  However, there are exceptions to that rule. Primarily, it works like this: 1) the environment must truly be toxic; 2) you must inform management of the situation and provide it with a real and true opportunity to fix the problem.

What does that mean?  What is a truly toxic situation?  Well, in the context of lawful "hostile work environment" (that is, one where the mistreatment does not exist because of your age, sex, race, religion, national origin, etc.) boss who yells a lot, curses, repeatedly invades your personal time, says highly critical things about you, gives unrealistic work assignments...I know, I know, sounds familiar!

How do you give the company a chance to fix the problem?  Report it, preferably in writing (it's the evidence, dammit!) and work with HR and wait a suitable time for things to prove, sending follow up e-mails each time a new (real) transgression arises.  Inform the company when you complain that the work environment is affecting your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

After a few months, if your employer has not remedied the problem, you may be able to quit and get unemployment.  That's right, I said a few months!  On many, many occasions I have had clients in who are understandable at their wit's end with their work situation.  They are ready to quit - NOW.  Implementing a decent strategy is therefore difficult.  One cannot bake a cake in 5 minutes....

The time to act is when you first get an inkling that your tenure with the company is causing you more pain than it should.  Perhaps consider taking a leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which is one of my favorite tools, for a number of reasons.  then, apply for Short Term Disability....

Maybe, if you're lucky, taking all of the above steps will lead the company to fire you - since public employment records don't exist, you really don't have to worry about your "record" - and you may be eligible for unemployment to boot!

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