An employee (client) remarked to me that when she worked for her former employer- which had a difficult manager and stressful environment- workers there lived in “survival mode.”
This phrase rang true to me. I talk to many employees in bad work situations, who are painfully aware they are miserable, and dread going to work each day. Their goals are immediate: to avoid the boss’s wrath, to survive the next tirade, to survive the day. Such employees usually hold onto some sort of abstract hope that things will improve, but when the day-to-day details play out, there are no tangible steps toward improvement and no positive changes are underway. Each day is just patching a different hole in the dam.
So what keeps employees at these environments? Often, it is money. Or, the lack of better opportunities.
But most often, it is the employees’ perception they can’t make decent money elsewhere, or find better opportunities and work conditions elsewhere, that keeps them locked in place, stuck in “survival mode.” Too often, when I ask a troubled employee “have you looked for a different job?” the answer is something like “I won’t be able to find another job that pays this much,” or “No one will hire someone like me.”
Many employees come to believe (whether consciously or subconsciously) that the way everything is, is the way it HAS to be. It doesn’t.
Employees really can control our own destinies. We can proactively: (1) identify what our dream job’s characteristics are; (2) identify how we can get to, or make, those characteristics a reality; and (3) make it happen.
Or… we can choose to peruse job ads, find a job, discover that job provides a hellish existence, and believe ourselves to be stuck there, living our work life in “survival mode.”