Knowing when to walk away from a job is challenging.
At some point in most roles, we notice we're no longer excited to clock in and start a new project, or that our manager drives us crazy. But when do these things become dealbreakers — and should they really be the reason you leave?
HR data platform Peakon examined its database of more than 34 million worker survey responses, which included information from more than 36,000 departing employees, to see if they could predict which employees are likely to resign, based on their replies, and when they would do so.
Most workers, Peakon learned, begin showing signs they're dissatisfied and itching to move on nine months before they hand in their notice. From this point forward, employee engagement, loyalty and happiness all begin to wane until an employee ultimately leaves.
But how do you decide when you're not just frustrated and that it's actually time to walk away? Peakon found there are four key signals — here's how to know when they've become a problem for you:
It turns out that people don't mind a full workload. Most employees thrive off of it, provided the assignments they're tasked with don't bore them.
If the work is too easy, doesn't interest you, or presents no opportunity for new growth or learning, it might be time to consider moving to an organization that will give you sufficiently challenging work.
Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch told CNBC Make It that before you put in your two-weeks notice, you should ask yourself, "When was the last time I did something at work for the first time?" If you can't think of a recent example, "you're stuck in the kind of job I call a 'velvet coffin' — comfortable, but deadly to your brain and spirit, not to mention your career," Welch says.
Our sense of accomplishment is essential to a healthy, rewarding work experience, according to Peakon's research. If we don't feel pride and forward momentum in the projects we tackle and our own development, we can end up becoming less creative, productive and engaged in our work. And that, of course, can further damage our chances at landing the opportunities and roles we do want.
In addition to a personal sense of accomplishment, many of us also want to feel like we're being appropriately recognized and rewarded for our efforts and skills. How companies typically do that is through compensation — pay, bonuses and benefits, or performance-related accolades.
If we feel the return for our work doesn't match the effort we've put in and/or doesn't align with what our peers earn, it's only natural to look for a better-paying company that will pay you what you're worth. After all, workers who quit their job last year for another saw their compensation increase by about 15%, according to Brian Kropp, vice president at research firm Gartner.
But Peakon found that money alone wasn't the biggest indicator it might be time to leave. While feeling underpaid is frustrating, not being able to have well-informed or constructive discussions with a manager regarding earnings is actually a bigger red flag.
Much of the raise negotiation advice we hear from experts like Welch centers on the importance of being able to have conversations with your boss about how you can best help him or her meet the company's goals and then following up with documentation that shows just how you've done that over the past six months and why you deserve a raise or promotion.
But working at a company that does not want workers to negotiate, discuss salary, or even raise the issue of a raise likely means any efforts to follow such advice will be thwarted. When our employer cuts off the dialogue about pay, it damages our sense of self-worth, Peakon found. It conveys that a company doesn't respect the employee or value their talents, and further indicates that the situation is unlikely to change to your benefit.
It's an old adage that people leave bosses, not companies, but according to Peakon's data it's a true one. Bad managers make us more miserable than any negative aspect of our relationships with coworkers, the workplace culture or the company itself do.
A Gallup study of more than 7,000 U.S. adults found that 50% of people have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. And while there are hundreds of annoying traits a boss can have, what behavior actually drive us to leave a position?
Peakon says its mangers who fail to provide their staff with the support necessary to complete their work.
Just as an inability to communicate about pay indicates deeper problems between a worker and manager, a lack of support can have the same affect. Great managers empower their employees and help them to achieve more without relying on outdated methods of reward and punishment, Peakon says. They need to function as more than just taskmasters.
If your boss is always lecturing or simply handing down instructions, doesn't value your insights or expertise, and doesn't treat you with respect, equality and empathy, it is likely time to walk.
We obviously work to earn a paycheck, but many of us also consider the kind of doors a position will open for us. Will this role lead to our dream job? Connect us with the right kind of clients to eventually launch our own business? Bring us interesting projects that will expand our skill set?
If a role isn't helping us to personally develop or advance our careers, it is likely time to move on, says Welch. Peakon found that feeling pigeon-holed in your current role without a clear path for advancement was the biggest signal that it's time to move on.
Welch agrees. Maybe "there's someone above you who's never going to leave the organization. Maybe it's the boss's daughter or son. Maybe it's the superstar employee. It doesn't matter. The facts are, you can't move up, or maybe even sideways, because no one is moving out."
If you don't leave, she says, "you'll never grow." And that's a huge issue.
"Since our jobs form a large part of our identity in the modern age, it's especially important that our organization is able to support us on this path," Peakon states in its report. "When we feel our role is helping us develop into our best self, it can have an incredibly powerful impact on employee engagement."
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!