Ready to quit? Here’s why you shouldn’t let anger do the talking

Chucking in your job in the heat of the moment might feel good – for a while. But there are better ways to cope.

Jul 01, 2024, updated Jul 01, 2024
Unless a work environment is unsafe, experts say there are typically much better options than rage quitting or rage applying. Photo: Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

Unless a work environment is unsafe, experts say there are typically much better options than rage quitting or rage applying. Photo: Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

Ever feel so enraged by work that you want to quit on the spot, or take out your frustrations by firing off multiple job applications in quick succession?

“Rage quitting” – or least the temptation of it – rarely goes out of style, but the act of “rage applying” has also become a popular form of workplace retaliation.

According to a recent survey of 2000 Australian professionals by recruiters Robert Walters, about two-thirds (60 per cent) of respondents had channelled their anger into applying for numerous roles.

About 65 per cent said toxic workplace culture was the key reason for the sudden flurry of CV sending, while a fifth of respondents blamed poor work-life balance.

Shay Peters, CEO of Robert Walters ANZ, believes the trend is a byproduct of the current macroeconomic situation.

He says during a post-Covid economic boom, opportunities seemed to be falling in employees’ laps.

“What I get a sense of now is that we’re heading into a slightly tougher situation,” he said.

Some employers might be streamlining staff, leaving behind a seemingly bad cultural dynamic, says Peters.

They may also be cracking down to try to achieve productivity gains, including demanding that employees are in the office more.

“Some managers aren’t used to dealing with managing or leading through downturns either,” he said.

“So their reactions might be very reactive, without any kind of medium to long-term mindset. From an employee’s perspective, that can be very frustrating.”

But amid tougher economic times, and with Australia’s unemployment rate ticking up slightly to about 4 per cent, what are the risks of hitting the exit button?

Kate Jolly, global head of talent at HR, payroll and benefits platform Employment Hero, warns that decisions based on anger can often lead to regrets.

“It’s a bit like sending an angry email. I would always recommend waiting a few hours and reflecting before you compose a response,” she says.

Jolly says that unless a work environment is unsafe, there are typically much better options than rage quitting or rage applying.

A starting point is to raise your concerns with your employer, she says.

“Do it respectfully and in an appropriate setting, so a one-to-one [meeting] with your manager is the best option,” she said.

If that fails, your company’s people and culture department may be able to help resolve the issue.

“A poor work environment can be incredibly hard to deal with,” Jolly said.

“But I would encourage people to remember that while you can’t control every aspect of your company’s culture, you can control how you react.”

Of course, there’s no guarantee that a new work environment will be a better fit, especially if you’re taking a scattergun approach to applying for jobs, she says.

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Instead, take some time to thoughtfully plan your next career move, and reflect on the type of work environment to which you are best suited.

Leah Lambart, a career and interview coach at Relaunch Me, says rage applying can be a reaction to a bad day in the office, an argument with a colleague, low pay or poor working conditions.

However, whether this rushed approach actually works is another thing.

Lambart recommends quality over quantity when it comes to applying for a new gig.

“Employees are far better off to spend time drafting a few quality applications each week that are well thought out and tailored to the job advertisement, rather than sending out multiple generic applications and just hoping that one sticks,” she said.

There is some upside though.

Lambart notes that if the rage inspires an unhappy employee into taking action to escape a negative work environment, that’s a positive – even if it’s not the most considered or effective approach.

And if the temptation to rage quit hits, she recommends first taking a minute to consider whether you have a backup plan.

That would ideally include some savings, a strong resume and LinkedIn profile – and a plan on the types of roles you’d like to target.

Before doing anything, Lambart says it’s worth exploring if there are any internal changes you could make, such as moving into a different area of the business.

To stay sane in the meantime, consider taking a decent break from work, and making sure you’re looking after yourself through regular exercise, sufficient sleep and a healthy diet.

Firm boundaries to stop your work life creeping into your personal life are also vital, says Lambart.

Failing to do this can mean you take the same issues into future jobs.

Finally, cautions Peters, be careful of what you wish for.

“Obviously, businesses are streamlining, and if they’re joining a business that hasn’t gone through any form of redundancy or streamlining, there is still a risk of last one on, first one off, so I’d be pretty wary of that.”


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