Employee’s Remorse And What To Do About It

Getting an offer of employment, or being just employed may come with excitement and celebrations. It may also come with nostalgia and some teeth grinding. Just like some people experience buyer’s remorse when they make a purchase and later detest the choice; new hires in many enterprises often experience employee’s remorse by deeply regretting their choice of workplace. The so called regret may come from perceived incoherence between the individual’s values and that of his new work, or unpalatable policies of the business, or dearth of tools/resources for his productivity, et cetera. It’s becoming obvious that the employee’s remorse phenomenon is becoming common place when you bother to listen to the whines and frustrations emanating from the corporate world – well, maybe not everywhere. The new year approaching therefore, there may be some reason(s) to take action on such condition, to create a new path or perspective in dealing with the feeling.

Writing about this came to me while having lunch in an eatery and unavoidably eavesdropping the conversation between two guys sitting two tables from mine. The main speaker, or rather the whiner, was dressed like a banker (rightly, bank officer) though not sure, with some stress and disgust written all over him.

“I’m sick and tired of this company, within a year of my involvement with them they have succeeded in zapping my spirit. I went in with lots of enthusiasm you know” the banker raked. “Relax my guy, you are working yourself up” his friend advised.

“You know what? From the beginning, can you believe I’ve been on a complete detour from the role I was interviewed for? They took me away from my line without training me on the new one. I had to start learning on the job – imagine asking an artist to start cracking his head with quantum physics”

“Is it that bad?” “Much worse” retorted the banker

“It gets more painful when your bosses do not listen to the staff, when they only manage by threat, or sacrifice you on the slab of office politics “

I was shaking my head at my seat asking myself “Which one, again, is management by threat?” I only know management by objective or by exception; then I realized I’m still a neophyte in the management field – lots to learn.

“And to add insult to injury, the pay is much below par, in the long term, compared to competition.”

I almost got caught chuckling aloud as I made for the counter to get another bottle of water…….

“My friend, that money issue is the real crux; admit it, you are suffering from employee’s remorse.”

By the time I returned to the seat, the two friends have disappeared. I actually wanted to pass some “wisdom” into the whiner:

Before taking any appointment:

  1. It is essential you know what you really want in a workplace. Understanding of the absolute conditions of service you desire, and the possible minimum setting you can (or willing) to endure is always critical. This should be an important guidepost in reviewing and selecting your 8-5 abode.
  2.  It is also essential you ask around about a prospective, or an engaging, place of work. Before you put that pen to paper saying…..I do; you need to confirm a congruence of the values of the company with your own (all the better if the company’s values are more noble), you also need to sync with the “culture” of the organization. There are also those so called trivial issues – e.g. availability of lunch room – you need to ascertain, later the “trivials” will become the mighty.

You should note that there are many companies where you cannot but blossom (both in career and in person) – these, you need to seek – and there are many where the meaning of work is constantly murdered. See this McKinsey’s article on how leaders kill meaning at work.

What damage control options do you have after taking up the appointment?

  1. Do nothing. Live with it. It’s your choice. 
  2. Do not be rash in your decision making. Perhaps you have the right company, but the wrong role. You might need to approach the Human Resource – if they approachable anyway – with tact in addressing your case. Talking about tact, the best description I have had till date is that of Winston Churchill “the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip”. That is the time to know if you are of any value to the organization, HR should perform a skill assessment review on you, and a job re-allocation is expected based on that, if necessary.
  3. Endeavor to add value to yourself by acquiring additional skills which maybe useful in your current workplace, or elsewhere should you decide to leave. This option always seem alluring to many since there is that “promise” of career enhancement and sometimes better personal network. It also allows you to eat your cake and have it by you having a job, yet getting your horizon well shaped.
  4. If you can quickly realize that each day you spend in “this uninspiring” enterprise culminates into your life/destiny, and that your vision of life is at 180° to that of the company; please run as fast as possible out of the door. You will not only create chance for he who care less whether he’s pissed on, but you save yourself some agonies and self pity a couple of years down the line. You should however realize that the pasture always seem greener on the other side…..I will therefore not appreciate another round of whine by my table next time.

But seriously, the effect of employee’s remorse is sometimes worse and more telling than that of the buyer’s, it may lead to health degradation including mental imbalance and acute depression. Why accumulate such negatives to your life, take action now! You must enjoy your work to succeed.

Share your experience of employee’s remorse and advice on what to do by dropping your comments below.

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2 Responses to Employee’s Remorse And What To Do About It

  1. Yusuf Dayo says:

    Its depressing atimes working in places where politics is the main game. I asked my PMP tutor the other day “so,what if I don’t want to be involved in this so called office politics!”He replied “then you are weak” In my mind I said to myself I will rather be weak! 😐

    • mckaff says:

      Well, at the tactical and strategic level of management, you cannot run away from politics. In fact for some units, it becomes the real job function. At the operational level, it’s more of “eye service” than politics, and unfortunately that’s where you see more backstabbing. Since you’re talking about PMP where you are expected to relate with stakeholders of varying interests, I’m not sure you will be able to run away from the politics. But quite rightly, deadly office politics can, and often, inflict the employee’s remorse syndrome. The problem is that you don’t even have any say, in many instances, in the game. Unlike conventional politics where your vote may jeopardize some people’s interests; here, their games may make or mar your career.

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