Not too long ago, I took the decision to resign from my steady, reasonably high-paying corporate job without so much as an inkling of what I intended to do next. All I knew, at that given time, was that I didn’t want to be a corporate slave working a nine-to-five (read: unpredictable working hours, no clear directives, toxic work environment, and an indecisive manager), where micromanagement was the modus operandi. Unwittingly, the events leading up to my resignation, made it seem like I was being hasty and had not thought it through.
The fact remains that my rising burnout, extreme stress, demotivation, and apparent lack of interest in the work served as valid reasons for my resignation. But, this did make me stop and question whether my decision to leave was fuelled by rage because of bad management, or whether it was rational and warranted. What I do know is that today, I’m happier, stress-free, and not obligated to ‘clock in’.
What rage quitting looks like
While not many may share the same privilege, this does beg the question: What is rage quitting, and why is it trending? Walking out of a job in anger has been around for quite a while, and was even popularised in the ’80s when gamers used the term ‘rage quitting’ to exit a frustrating video game midway.
Dr Mantosh Kumar, senior consultant, clinical psychology, Sukoon Health, says, “Made acceptable today due to pop culture, rage quitting is often seen as an impulse. An employee may rage quit if they are done dealing with work, certain colleagues/manager, despite repeated efforts to speak up or power through. When the dissatisfaction continues, often individuals take extreme steps and this may even run the risk of making them appear as insubordinate or incapable.”
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘impulse’ to quit, particularly without another job offer in hand, is a bad thing. After all, those considering this alternative are perhaps only seeking what’s best for them.
Tyrus D’Souza, 31, a former staff at a popular hotel chain in Oman, says that the service industry means the customer is always right.
“This can sometimes translate into disrespect, unsavoury working conditions, irregular working hours, and a pittance for renumeration. My job was demanding, but I stuck it out for two years till I couldn’t take it anymore. Work has taken a toll on my mental health. Living in another country didn’t help either. I knew that my only option was to leave and come back to India,” he says. D’Souza is undergoing therapy to help him cope with his deteriorating mental health. “I’d like to find my bearings before looking for work again.”
What lies beneath
If stress and job burnout weren’t indicators enough, COVID-19 hasn’t done much for those working from home, dealing with a nine-to-five job, household chores, and perhaps even contending with their kids’ schedules. In fact, numerous people have admitted that the lockdown has blurred the line between professional and personal life, causing a disruption in their work-life balance.
While work-from-home may have benefitted some, many found themselves working round the clock, and have had to deal with severe pay cuts and layoffs. And
Dr Kumar attests to this, adding that the underlying reasons for quitting are unforeseeable stressors caused by “poor employee satisfaction, poor communication and management, high or unreasonable expectations from management, self-esteem issues, low tolerance, poor coping mechanisms, emotional dysregulation, and diminished mental health.”
However, there’s a consensus that people who rage quit tend to cite poor management as not only a common, but one of the main reasons to leave.
Sheila Roy*, 32, a disgruntled employee who quit her telemarketing job and refused to serve her 30-day notice, says, “My boss was the worst. I couldn’t trust her to understand boundaries, or the fact that living alone meant I did require to manage my household chores while working my designated shift, which changed routinely. She made it difficult to communicate my dissatisfaction, and eventually told me that I needed to fall in line or quit.”
Dr Kumar says that quitting owing to direct result of bad management is an employee’s expression of frustration while working in an environment that is not supportive. “However, this can be helpful for individuals who may be pushing more than their limit, reaching their inevitable breaking point. It also helps one understand their capabilities, set boundaries and foster informed decision making in the future.”
Take back control
Is it really surprising then that the urge to quit is associated with emotions of frustration, exhaustion, disappointment, and eventual acceptance that the situation will not change despite repeated efforts?
Roy says, “It wasn’t a tough decision because I know I gave it my 100 per cent, and it still wasn’t enough. It made me realise that no job was worth killing myself for.”
However, should resigning from a job be considered the last resort?
Dr Kumar says, “While individuals find it easier to rage quit in a professional environment than on the personal front, it should be the last resort if you haven’t considered all alternatives. Communicate with the management about your feelings or experiences, draw boundaries for yourself, practise mindfulness, delay the impulses before circling back to it, take regular breaks, and even seek professional help to gain perspective.”
“Remember, an informed decision will safeguard you from bad choices and regrets,” he adds.
*Names changed on request