Should I Quit my Job?

NOTE: I previously posted this on the Back Fence, but there seems to be more people here, and I am in need of advice. I looked, and to my knowledge I am not breaking forum rules, please let me know if this is not the right place for this topic! Thank you.

Hello,

I have worked with people with special needs for many years, and enjoy it very much. One of my current clients found me shortly after I got married and moved across the country. Another client found me in November, and I liked what the supervisor described in the care program: the supervisor has arranged for at-home care for her two severely disabled adult brothers, where they are given round-the-clock one-on-one care, including behavior management, academics, physical therapy, etc.

But, things have not been going well, for several reasons:

-The supervisor is almost never there. Her expectations are not clear, but I have enough experience to provide good care and to learn as I go. The problem is, since I don’t know what she wants, I cannot meet her expectations. (The phrase “everyone has their own way of doing it” has come from staff and super. Conveniently forgotten when she visits…) She has never given me *positive *feedback, but only *corrected *what I’m doing (or what she thinks I’m doing because she’s never there to see me work), and when I explain myself, or offer ideas for treatment, she looks at me like I have two heads, and says nothing. (For example, the other week she asked me: “Why aren’t you doing such-and-such this way?” I responded: “I’ve been doing it the way that I thought best, since I knew it was a goal, but I didn’t know you wanted it carried out in that way.” (Blank stare from super) “Well, do it this way from now on. Why can’t I set out a program and have people follow it?” She never mentioned this specific program to me, and my training didn’t cover it)

-It is understaffed. At the interview, (supervisor was 30 mins late) I was told they had a high turnover (red flag) and she spoke very negatively about a former employee (red flag). The staff, since they are stretched so thin, seem to carry an attitude that they are overworked victims because “another staff” is not working more. (Whoever is convenient to blame at the time) I have heard bad things about other staff from coworkers nearly every day since I started.

-There is no unity. The staff each do their own thing, which means inconsistent care for the patients, which results in a lack of progress. One staff, experienced with this disability, keeps his patient very active, while another staff, when she is with this same patient, lets him watch TV during her entire 14 hour shift, while she sits on her phone. She told me she could take him out in her car, but “doesn’t really want to.” (Car rides are a part of his therapy) She has zero respect for the most senior staff member who is trying to implement a consistent care program.

-However: this most senior member is 30 minutes late every day, and calls in sick 3 our of 5 Mondays. Always Mondays.

-It’s disorganized. I had to leave a meeting early to go to my other client, so I did not hear of a schedule change. It wasn’t until two weeks later, when I specifically asked about the schedule, that I learned it had changed. Because of this kind of disorganization, I have twice re-ordered my day and driven several miles, only to be called off at the last minute.

-There’s more, but I think you get the idea…

Why NOT quit?

-I love the job. I love working with these patients.

-The pay is good, and the hours allow me some time during the week to pursue my art business.

-I am VERY anxious about having enough money. We have student loans, old cars, and we’re still learning the fine art of “two people, one budget.” ('Though, I could get a different part-time gig. Heck, dog walking can pay well. Low stress.)

I got this job because I thought I would love it, it was in my field, and allowed me the time and money to build up my portfolio. My husband wants me to drop this client and focus more on my art, but it will be a big pay cut, and who knows when I’ll land a short-term design contract?

I am conflicted morally because I have only had this job for a few months, (the last job I had lasted six years) and what the supervisor is doing for her brothers is admirable. But she cannot manage a business. If I leave, they will have FIVE staff for 24-hour, one-on-one care for TWO patients. I will really deal them a hard blow, and… well, I want to do the right thing. I asked to drop my weekend rotation (very irregular, harms family time) I gave a month, but was told, “I"m working on it, I promise!!!” by the super.

I think the answer is obvious, but why do I feel GUILTY? I was thinking of giving it Lent and then putting in my two weeks if it’s still bad, but…

Any advice from the wise?

Thank you and God bless!
-SlingShot

I don’t know about this particular situation, but I don’t think you should leave this job without asking for a meeting with the supervisor and explaining everything that you have explained to us. Ideally, you’d put it in writing, so she can refer back to it.

It sounds like you can get a job that pays just as well very easily, so you have nothing to lose by talking to the supervisor.

I think I’d add that you need regular meetings (with perhaps minutes sent or given to the caregivers on duty, and making a point of rotating who is on duty during the meetings). Everybody hates meetings, but they’re a really good way of making sure everybody is on the same page.

Also, regular training for the staff sounds like a good idea.

Also, maybe come up with an official manual that gets regularly updated? And perhaps an activity log?

I suspect that what’s happened here is that she did a reasonable job training the initial team, but then there’s been so much turnover that she doesn’t remember who has heard what and she’s forgetting that she did the initial training five changes of staff ago.

Best wishes!

It sounds like since you love it, and it is good pay and reasonable hours, maybe it’s worth staying a bit longer than planed. I also think it sounds like an admirable and rewarding job. However, I would not call myself wise, nor one to ask job advice from. My best advice would be seek your advice in person, with a career counselor maybe, or someone you know and trust. Also, have you tried expressing your concerns to your co-workers or supervisor? That might be a good idea, although you’d have to be crafty in how you go about doing that if you intend to keep the job even for a while longer. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but these were just my thoughts when reading your post. You sound like a great employee.

There is nothing immoral in leaving a job because the company has failed to provide a suitable work environment for you. Your guilt is admirable, but I don’t think guilt is the right word. It is empathy for you fellow staff that makes you want to stay. Guilt has moral implications, but like I said there is nothing immoral in leaving.

Xantippe offered some good suggestions you could try in order to help fix the problems, rather than escape them. But the sad truth is that the chance of effecting organisation change (even in tiny organisations) is usually slim. And if you try, you may find that you stay around simply on the promise that things will change, but when they don’t you will feel even more frustrated. I know this sounds defeatist, but you must make a calculated decisions regarding the chance of the organisation changing.

If you leave, they will replace you of course. And thus your colleagues will be no worse off than they are now (assuming a competent replacement). So really, your leaving does not greatly affect them, does it?

Stay or go based on YOUR feelings. Try to exclude “leaving them in in a lurch” if you can. If you stay based on that, resentment will begin to grow. Personally, I never care how my co-workers preform, that is a battle that can never be won.

As far as the supervisor goes, I would try to detach. Her checks are clearing the bank. You never see her much anyway right? Her inability to run a business smoothly isn’t your problem. My experience has been after one or two shot down suggestions, it does more harm than good to continue with more.

Meanwhile… keep your eyes open for something better at all times. If the pressure to leave is not to heavy, then shopping around will not only be therapeutic, it will keep your job hunting skills sharp and serve as a constant reminder that you have other options, and that you are marketable.

Bravo on the good work you are doing.

Do you have a daily book that each staff member writes what happened in? And that everyone has to read at the beginning of each shift? You might suggest that if you don’t. Then if the staff member doesn’t encourage her client in activities, she will have to admit it or lie about it.

I would make a written list of problems and present it to your supervisor. I would tell her that you are concerned for the quality of care the brothers receive, as it is not consistent,
that expectations are not written down,
that staff members are often late with no consequences,
and that staff members are not supportive of one another.
I (this is just me) would say I will give it another few weeks, and if we can’t work this out I will be looking for another job.
With your work ethic, you should have no trouble finding one.

Pray to St.Joseph (patron saint oif workers) and Holy Spirit to make a good decision:

Thank you for your response!

There is a book, but it is not a log book, more like a book listing what they do. It is reusable, so it does not serve as a log.

The daily activity book has written expectations, but it creates a false sense of security: when I think I’m doing well because I’m following the book, I’m told: “everyone has their own way of doing it. The book is really just a guide” Then when I do some of my own things with my patient, I hear: “Why aren’t you doing this specific thing in this exact way?” I get confused and frustrated, I want to do well, and… well, I guess it would be nice if my supervisor took an interest in what skills and ideas I bring to the table.

For me to report on the staff members… well, they already badmouth other staff for anything from being “sarcastic” to not wanting to work every weekend (something I am trying to adjust for myself - I’m sure they will complain about me, then, too) in short, there’s already lots of negativity.

This is SUCH a small place: The it-home care staff is only four people, including myself.

Thank you very much for you advice!

Amen!

Thank you for your advice!

We have meetings, but so far they are not regular - less thank once a month.

Yes, there are no minutes from the meetings, which is why I didn’t know about the schedule change until 2 weeks later.

Honestly, given the way my ideas have been received so far (blank stares) for me, the newest staff, to call a meeting and point out everything I see wrong would make for such an antagonistic work environment that my choice would be obvious. The staff who do not do their job consistently *know *what they are doing - they even blame other staff for “working the patients too hard” - anything is “too hard” when you’re comparing it to being in front of the TV all day! I try to suggest things, or just give an example of what I’ve done and get: “He just wants to be left alone,” “I would make him do blank, but it takes too much energy, I don’t want to fight him.”

I have another client whose supervisor is an absolute JOY - I could easily keep them and drop this conflicted environment. As much as I love working with these patients, the field does not allow for advancement or benefits, and when children come along, well… I honestly was not looking at doing it the rest of my life. I have a lifelong personal goal of working in design, which is step by step becoming a reality. My husband suggested I keep the client with the healthy work environment and go full-speed on my artistic pursuit.

That sounds reasonable.

But you have nothing to lose (and your clients in the bad environment have a lot to gain) if you request a meeting with your supervisor and explain what you are seeing. You’ve laid it out very well, dispassionately, and professionally (with absolutely no ultra-personal backbiting), and I think you could produce a very good memo from what you’ve written here. I suspect that your supervisor is so overwhelmed by everything that it will just soar over her head (she presumably hears a lot of griping from others), but I do think that’s what duty requires. But that’s all–just one meeting (or the request for one meeting). Once you’ve either had the meeting or asked for a meeting and been blown off, I think your work there is done.

You sound like a great person.

Best wishes!

By the way–a reusable wipe-off activity log!!!

That is the worst idea I have ever heard of.

I can’t get over that one.

I have actually owned a small business and done what comes with it, i.e., hired & fired people, etc., so I’m hopefully more than someone whose opinion is relevant. I’ve also worked for others of very different natures.

IMHO it is never, EVER smart, bordering on foolish or insane, to quit a job without having a replacement job lined up, i.e., leaving 1 for another, absent some really, really serious reason, i.e., demands that you do something unethical or illegal or your own safety is endangered. The world is full of people who don’t like their jobs in some respects but very few just up and quit - with good reason. No job is ever perfect, and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. By all means, go ahead and look for something better if you want, but do NOT just quit, for several reasons, some of which are related:

  1. No unemployment benefits. You suddenly have zero income.
  2. When you go to get a new job, a new potential employer will wonder, “will this person just quit on me, too?”
    2A. It’s hard to explain to employers. Many employers will be understandable if a person is looking, but a person who quits cold will send a major red flag to an employer.
  3. Jobs are never as easy to come by as we may think. Unless you have a firm job offer in hand, it is extremely risky to just leave.
  4. Statistically it is much easier to find a job when you’re working than when you’re unemployed.
  5. Consider that if you EVER could need a referral/recommendation from your present employer, IMHO it is much more likely to be withheld if you just up and quit. Employers know that their people will look for something better, but leaving without a new job lined up is sometimes views as akin to saying “drop dead” to your employer: You’re announcing you’d literally rather do nothing and have zero income than work for them.

Now, that’s generally. It’s even worse to contemplate this when you say you love the job and make good money doing it. I’m reading this and asking, “OK, so why on earth would you want to quit?”

Look around? Sure. Heck, I’m always looking around for myself, vaguely, if nothing else, because no matter what you do something better could come along. But to just up and quit because, say, there’s no positive reinforcement? A bad idea IMHO. Very bad.

On that note, I’d add: I’ve worked a lot for other people in different fields where there is sometimes no positive reinforcement. It stinks - but it happens. My wife is a professional who receives essentially zero positive reinforcement or praise. It’s just…the way things are sometimes.

But she has another similar job, plus her art stuff. And she’s planning on quitting eventually when she has kids (am I remembering that right?).

I suspect this is the sort of gig that is always hiring, especially the lousy ones. (Remember, we were told it’s a high turnover job.)

That said, I was once working two jobs (a morning/early afternoon teaching job plus a night class) and I quit the night class after I got pregnant and was feeling miserable, nauseous and exhausted and working two jobs was just too much. Unfortunately, the morning/early afternoon job laid me off right after that because of 9/11 (their clientele had dried up). So, I had accidentally picked the wrong one to quit. That was not a great feeling, especially once I hit my second trimester of pregnancy and was feeling great and didn’t have enough to do, but it was a very temporary situation–I had at most three months of sad thumb twiddling.

I suspect that this is a similarly low-stakes situation for the OP.

Thank you, I think this is very good advice. While the negative issues at work are indeed issues, I think part of my confliction might be that I have a window of time right now when I can dive into my art, but I feel bad about quitting a job only a few months in. (Granted, the environment makes leaving easier)

I didn’t plan this from the beginning, and even mentioned in the interview that since I was new to the area, and had just gotten married, I really couldn’t say anything other than I *didn’t *currently have plans on leaving soon. (For all I knew, my husband’s job could relocate him or something out of the blue - I’m no longer the only adult in charge of my life) Unless, I specifically mentioned, “my art takes off overnight, ha, but I doubt that will happen.” – I was kind of joking, but my art is listed right at the top of my resume…

Thank you! You’re very sweet to say that. Whether I leave now or later (maybe once I sign a short-term design licensing contract) I’m going to try to make this a smooth transition/adjustment/disclosure/thing. I really don’t want to leave them in a mess, but I can see why the turnover rate is so high!

You got it! That’s basically me.

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