Ethical Question About Quitting My Job

I am sick of my job, bored to tears and in general very unhappy with the working conditions.

Over the last couple of months I have been thinking about quitting my job or at least starting to look for a new job. Recently I made the decision to take a step towards job hunting and have been overhauling my resume.

Today I spoke to another employee in the building about my feelings and decision to look for a new job. Her suggestion was that I should talk to my boss about my unhappiness and being bored and see if he had any solutions.

Should I do this? The other lady seemed to think it was unethical of me to get a new job without trying hard to improve the current job.

For the record, there is no where to move up, down or sideways in my current position, short of taking my boss’s job. There are only two of us who work here (my boss and I), the lady I talked to works in the building but not for my company. I feel trapped and bored so I was going to try and escape.

Well, in my experience, the only reason for sneaking away without telling the Boss what you’re doing is because the Boss has generally been treating you like dirt. Then you owe him nothing.

If, however, he’s generally treated you fairly, then yes, you do owe it to him to at least mention that you’re unhappy and are thinking of moving on. That puts the ball in his corner–he can say, “How can we make you happy?” or he can say, “Best of luck in your new job”.

Either way, he’s not going to feel abandoned/betrayed, and more importantly, he’s not going to give you a bad reference to punish you for sneaking away without at least talking to him about it first.

It’s not necessarily a question of “ethics”, it’s more a question of “stupidity”. Why alienate someone pointlessly if the situation isn’t bad enough that you really need to sneak out?

And besides, the close one-on-one relationship, just you and the Boss, will make any “sneaking away” look even more like a personal rejection. I don’t think you wanna go there. :wink:

The working relationship isn’t that great, we communicate on a basic level but just what is needed to get the job done.

Part of problem is that when I was employed three years ago there was different person in charge and they hired me specifically for skills that my new boss does not utilise at all. He sees computers, email, internet etc as forms of communication that will become obselete in the future as people return to more reliable paper systems. Head. Bang. Wall.

Eh I don’t want to turn this into a whinge about my job or my boss, I am honestly just not sure that anything positive will result from talking to him.

Can you describe the situation a bit more, leechbabe? In my industry there are major firms, which have potentially lifelong career tracks, independents, where one can flourish and move up, but where one can also be trapped at or near their entry level and hardscramble smaller entities that rely on everyone staying in the same place they came into.

Where are you?

Ringo I work for a not-for-profit association that exists to promote a specific industry within the state of Victoria, Australia. We organise television campaigns promoting our industry products, trade fairs for the public to come look at our products etc. There is no need for more than 2 people to do this job as the majority of the work is outsourced.

My boss is out of the office seeing people and visiting members of our industry for 90% of the time, so I am stuck back at HQ in the office on my own (which adds to the boredom). The work load has not changed significantly over the last 3 years, I am still doing the same things now as when I started only I do them a bit faster than I did back then. Sometimes I invent tasks to do just to pass the time or help the other people in the building get work done.

I’d talk to your boss just for the sake of politeness. It does sound as though there may be little leeway for him to make your job more interesting even if he wanted to, unless you like his duties and want to share some of them. I find that once I’ve got to the point of feeling bored at work in any particular job the end is nigh - I rapidly become more disgruntled and have to move on. Luckily I have been able to change roles every few years where I am now without leaving the organisation. I have probably had 10 different positions in 15 years. Good luck.

I’d quietly look for another job. With all due respect to the DUCKSTER, I don’t agree that you particularly owe it to him to let him know you’re unhappy and looking around. To me, the relevant inquiry is not whether he’s the source of your unhappiness, but whether he can or will do anything to fix it. And it doesn’t sound like he can (or will). There’s no room for movement or advancement, and he doesn’t understand or appreciate the skills you could bring to the job. It’s time for you to move on.

Jobs are business, and while I don’t advocate being dishonest, I frankly don’t think what you do on your own time – up to and including look for another job – is none of your boss’s affair. I do think that you owe it to him to give reasonable notice when you leave, so you don’t leave the company in the lurch. But I don’t think you have any ethical obligation to let your company (any company) know you’re thinking about leaving, much less actively trying to leave. You can, if you want to, and if you are interested in trying to fix the situation, but IMO you don’t have to. It goes without saying that I don’t think it’s “sneaky;” you’re his employee, not his wife. You owe him eight good hours a day; not absolute loyalty for the rest of your life.

If my employees were unhappy, I would want to know about it so I could try to fix it. (Assuming it was fixable and the employee was a valuable one.) But if, rather than try to fix it, the employee decides to move on down the road, that’s his or her perogative. As long as they give me ample notice so my business is not inconvenienced, what right to I have to complain? And anyone who would write you a bad reference under such circumstances is IMO shabby – and a person that shabby would probably write you a bad reference if they knew you were leaving in advance, either to make you stay or to punish you for going.

I’ve quit my share of jobs in my life, for various reasons. I have more often than not notified my bosses that I’m leaving only after I’ve secured the next job – or at least gotten to the interview point where I’m told references will be checked. If this has pissed any of them off, they’ve never let me know – disappointed that I’m leaving, maybe, but mad about it, no. It is not uncommon in my field for applications to be submitted “in confidence,” meaning, don’t tell my boss, she doesn’t know I’m looking. This isn’t frowned upon or considered underhanded, and I see nothing wrong with it.

This is off the top of my head, and may not strike you as the answer to your immediate needs - it sounds to me as if you’re in a position to start building a Rolodex.

You’re in the industry and have a legitimate reason to talk to many other people so engaged. It will take a bit more time than just floating a resume and hoping for another office job, but you can take advantage of the portal on Aussie TV that your current position allows. Punch it and give it some time. Look around and see what the ohters do.

Think of as many reasons as are viable to contact other people in that industry from your current job. When you focus on what others in that field do, learn as much as you can about it, while preserving the current position.

I’m an independently minded sort myself, so I’d tend to look at what sort of brokering goes on. I’d guess there’s some such. But there’s also technical, marketing, financial, administrative, etc. positions to be filled. And they rely to some degree on the knowledge you’ve already acquired.

Good luck with it, leechbabe! I’ve been there, and I think you can do well by remembering to build on what you’ve got.

Okay, thank-you for the input all.

I’ve taken a step towards talking to my boss by asking him if we can do a performance review of my job. He skipped my performance review this year and just gave me a pay rise.

This way I will get some feedback on how he thinks I’m progressing and hopefully open the communication channels so I can talk to him.

Time to move on. It’s not immoral in any way to leave a job that’s not meeting your needs any more than it’s immoral for an employer to let you go if you’re not meeting theirs. It’s a business relationship, and if it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on.

Now… This would be a good time to think about what you want in a job. Advancement is important to you, so make sure your next job has room for that. Think about other things you want, and not just things today, but things in five years. Then find a place that has growth potential in the directions you want.

By the way, watch out for telling people in your building about these sorts of thoughts. You never know what can come around to your boss.

I say give your old resume a tune-up and start looking, maybe even apply some places and interview. When my job started annoying me, it was quite a boost to get some calls and even just interviewing and talking to people in various industries was pretty helpful. You’re in the best position for looking: You have a stable job NOW.

I agree with Bill H., this is a business relationship. You’re not cheating on a romantic partner, you’re looking for the best working opportunity available to you.

IMHO, you should NOT tell your boss you’re looking around. Suppose you don’t find anything? He/She will be on notice that you’re a potential short-timer. So if layoffs come around, guess who will be first to go? You owe an employer an honest day’s work. That’s it.

Ok lemme get this straight:

You get the office to yourself. You don’t have a boss in your face every 5 minutes. You’re underworked to the point of creating work to do.

And you get paid for this.

Do you know how GOOD you have it?!?!?!?!?!

I have to ask - Why?

There is no opportunity for advancement, and if the job only requires two employees, hiring a third or forth [to keep you company] would be a waste of money.

It just doesn’t seem like there is anything he could do to better your situation. Sure, he could give you another raise, but you’re still going to be unhappy.

Throw in the towel, and look elsewhere.

Before you throw in the towel, it might be wise to think about the flexibility that your current job offers that might not be available in future jobs. With your medical stuff and having a young child, it might be a case of ''better the devil you know" than trying your hand with a new employer who might not be quite so accomodating.

If you’ve been there 3 years and your boss doesn’t realize that you’re unhappy there, that’s your boss’s fault. Your boss should be asking you once in a while how things are going, etc. That’s one of the responsibilities of a good manager. It’s your right to look for another job at any time for any reason. The time to speak explicitly with your boss about looking elsewhere is AFTER you’ve gotten an offer for another position. There’s no reason to alert your boss beforehand that you’re starting to look for another job. That sometimes creates a pretext for your boss to lay you off before you have found other employment.

leechbabe, meet your U.S. counterpart. I’m also one of two full-time employees at a non-profit, and I also feel bored and trapped by the job. In my case, it’s not that I’m underworked; it’s that the organization is underfunded and understaffed. I’ve thought about talking to my boss, but what can she do? She doesn’t have the financial resources to hire a 3rd person or offer me health benefits/401K/etc. So I’m looking hard, but I feel a little weaselly, even though I rationally have no reason to. My first priorities have to be my own family’s financial health and my career satisfaction, not loyalty to an admittedly worthy organization.

This type of job may be appealing to the lazy, slothfull and unambitious but some people actually want to make something of themselves professionally.

Wrong. You owe your boss nothing other than 2 weeks notice that you are leaving, which is more than they would give you if the situations were reversed.

leechbabe - If you are in a position where you are bored and there is no possibility of advancement and YOUR BOSS is also not on any particular fast-track, then you need to look for either a transfer within the company or a complete job change.

You don’t want to stay in a dead end-position for years upon years learning nothing and coasting along like your simp’ coworker until one day they lay you off and you have no skills to take with you.

This type of job may be appealing to the lazy, slothfull and unambitious but some people actually want to make something of themselves professionally.

Nice little comeback there.

To me that kind of job sounds perfect because it’s stable, low-stress and provides the income to oh, live your life outside of the office. Not everyone’s world revolves around their job, you know.