We sometimes accept a seemingly great job offer but just a few weeks into the new job, experience what has been termed as the “great regret” or the “shift shock”.
It primarily occurs when your expectations don’t meet the reality at the workplace, making it further difficult for you to acclimate to the new environment. While the “Great Resignation” was talked about as a trend a year back, this kind of regret can happen any time during your career.
Maanvika Goel, an assistant manager in a logistics MNC, recounts how an exciting job opportunity soon turned into a nightmare for her. “While I was working for a large MNC, I was offered a better profile role in a smaller organisation. Since I wanted to face new challenges and wanted to expose myself to a new job role, so that I don’t get into my comfort zone, I took the offer.”
Once she made the move, she realised that the workload was unrealistic and there was a lack of ethical leadership. It forced her to quit her job within 2 months of joining. “I was asked to give extra hours and be in the office till late without getting any extra remuneration. Plus, though the company emphasised collaboration, my team started treating me as an assistant and threw their work at me. And, this only led to feelings of burnout and frustration. The boundary between work and personal life quickly blurred away, resulting in stress and reduced quality of life,” says Goel.
Areas with higher instances of shift shock
Sumit Kumar, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship, says that shift shock and new job regret can happen to anyone, but there are some areas where they are more common. “Employees who move into a new industry or role that is very different from their previous experience may be more likely to experience a shift shock. This is because they may have to learn a whole new set of skills and knowledge, and they may not be familiar with the culture and expectations of the new industry or role,” says Kumar.
The possibility of a shift shock can be high in some startups because the work is fast-paced, chaotic and can be a lot to handle for employees used to working in more structured environments.
On the other hand, Viju Gangadharan, Head-HR, iMocha, says, “Employees in all customer- and people-facing roles considerably deal with shift shock or new job regret. People don’t leave organisations, they leave their manager or colleagues because of a mismatch of value system or way of working, which broadly forms the culture of the organisation.”
He shares an example from one such customer-facing role that could lead to regret: “People are used to a certain profile of customers, but suddenly they have to build relationships with a completely different set of customers who they are not used to.”
How to cope with job regret
Sumit advises employees dealing with shift shocks to rationally evaluate the situation and avoid making any emotionally charged decisions. Here are a few steps that he says can offer immense assistance in taking a wise call.
Situation assessment: Employees should take some time to evaluate whether their feelings are a result of an initial adjustment period or if there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed.
Seek support: If the challenges are temporary, seeking support from colleagues, mentors or managers can help in navigating through the initial difficulties.
Open communication: If the issues are persistent, it's essential to communicate with supervisors or HR about the concerns. This could lead to adjustments in job responsibilities or better alignment with skill sets.
Skill enhancement: If the issue is related to skill gaps, employees might consider enhancing their skills through training or courses to better fit their role.
Give it time: Adjusting to a new role or environment takes time. Sometimes, what seems like new job regret might be a result of the initial discomfort that fades away with familiarity and experience.
Take care of yourself: Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and exercising regularly. Taking care of yourself will help you to cope with stress and make it easier to adjust to your new job.
If the regret doesn’t dissolve but festers further, is there a right time to quit?
According to Kumar, the decision to quit such a role can be influenced by personal circumstances and the severity of the issues. However, he says that quitting can become an option when:
Furthermore, he says that it's advisable to have a backup plan, such as another job offer or financial stability, before quitting. Resigning without such a plan can lead to more stress.
Measures that companies can take
While suggesting a few ways in which companies can prevent job regret among employees, Gangadharan states that the step to avoid job regret among new employees starts at the selection process. Once a candidate’s skills and competencies have aligned with a specific job role, cultural fitment must be assessed. “Quite a few new joinees leave the organisation during the first 3 months because their personal values are not in line with the values of the organisation,” he says.
Another highly beneficial strategy recommended by him is building a robust pre-boarding & on-boarding programme to help the new joinees engage with the people, policies, culture and product, among others. Doing so ensures they easily settle in and become productive at the earliest.
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