Joy has exciting news to share! Then we talk about jobs and job searching and discuss more in-depth about how to handle toxic workplace behaviors.
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This is Joy & Claire: 96: New Jobs, Old Jobs, and Looking for Jobs
Episode Date: October 14, 2021
Transcription Completed: October 27, 2021
Audio Length: 55:22 minutes
Joy: Hey guys, this is Joy.
Claire: And this is Claire.
Joy: And this is Joy and Claire. For a second, I was like, which podcast are we doing? [laughing]
Claire: Oh no. Where am I?
Joy: What am I doing? I had too much caffeine. I have a caffeine hangover. I hate when that happens.
Claire: It’s not even a hangover. You’re still in it. You’re caffeine drunk.
Joy: Caffeine drunk. Which never really happens because I tend to not drink a lot of caffeine. But I had one extra cup this morning, and then I just had a latte. It’s noon, and I’m not okay. Not. Okay. I’m drinking a hydration multiplier right now. Maybe the hydration will multiply against the caffeine. Isn’t that how that works?
Claire: I’m pretty sure that’s how that works. It will help your liver.
Joy: Okay, great. Will it help this headache?
Claire: It works when you accidentally get drunk, so it’s got to be the same thing with caffeine headaches.
Joy: Perfect. And I just had a peanut butter cup, which is sugar.
Claire: Good idea, Joy.
Joy: [laughing] Well I needed to have an emergency snack because I’m really hungry, but I’m like, ah, I’ve got to jump on the podcast. You can’t really chew. So I shoved a peanut butter cup into my mouth.
Claire: I don’t know what you should have had, but I don’t think it was that. What could you have had that would have been just… like just nuts or something? Just a big bowl of nuts.
Joy: Aw man. I thought that was a good idea. I just need a lot of calories all at once.
Claire: I mean, true. But anyway.
Joy: Anyway, let’s talk more about my food issues.
Claire: Give the people what they want. Joy’s imminent caffeine crash.
Joy: Oh my gosh. Okay. So it’s almost mid-October. Where are we? What are we doing? We’re recording on a Monday.
Claire: It’s Monday afternoon. Thank you for being here with us in the future on Thursday.
Claire: We hope you’re having a great week. You have some fun developments in your life, which we want to share. In this podcast as a whole, we really are just going to spend a lot of time talking about work cultures, toxic work cultures, jobs, new jobs, old jobs, people’s jobs, other people’s jobs. Give that a lot of the time that it deserves because I feel like going through the last… I don’t even know how to say it anymore. The times that we’re currently in and will be in for the foreseeable future.
Joy: Right, it’s no longer unprecedented.
Claire: It’s no longer unprecedented. This is the new normal, which I also hate that phrase. I feel like it’s just changed the dynamic of our relationship to our work so much. So many people are getting new jobs, quitting their jobs, going out on a limb without a job lined up, and it’s shedding a lot in realizing your work culture has maybe been very toxic. Or maybe you have a story from long ago that didn’t even have to include the pandemic, so we’re going to talk about that today.
Joy: Yes. So we’ll start with good news. I got a new job, and I’m very excited about it. So for those of you who may not know, I left my previous place of employment back in early June. It was a kind of sudden, unexpected, kind of expected turn. I took a lot of time to really evaluate what I wanted to do. It was a little scary. I think I mentioned in previous episodes that I was in a place to do that. It was not something that – I always think of Brene Brown or Elizabeth Gilbert where people would come up to her and be like, “You inspired me to just quit my life and go travel.” And they’re like, ah, that kind of scares me. Not everyone can do that. There’s a little bit of that head in the clouds mentality where it’s just like, okay, realistically what can you do? We can’t just all quit our jobs and go look for a better one. So I realize that I was in a position that I could take some time and super grateful for that. I really took the past 4.5-ish months to decide what I wanted. Most of you know that I was working on the platform – and I still am. I’m closing out my case – but I went on the platform BetterHelp, which is an online telehealth platform for behavioral health therapy. It’s a great, great platform if you are looking for therapy. I know there’s tons of podcasts that are sponsored by them. They have a discount code. We do not. Which we probably should by now. But they’re a great platform and I highly recommend them for therapy and telehealth. So I was working for BetterHelp since July and realized I really like working from home, and I really like doing teletherapy. This is actually lovely, and I do enjoy just waking up, rolling into my home office, and doing telehealth. The patient population is amazing. I started thinking more about doing a work-from-home job. Fast forward, I got a job with a company called Ginger Health. I didn’t think much of it. The whole process of applying for jobs we can talk about in a minute. Claire and I always talk about how hard it is to go through the job-hunting process and applying to jobs. I cannot tell you how many jobs I applied for that I got the automatic rejection letter where I’m pretty sure they don’t even look at your resume. As a side note, I have not had to really look for a job since I started my professional career. My first job out of grad school was a friend recommendation referral. My second job from there was a recommendation friend referral. So this is the first time I’ve had to – I know people are like, “Oh, boohoo,” but truly I’ve been lucky in that most of my jobs have been friend referrals. Like, “Oh, we have this opening. You should apply” type of thing. This was really the first time – I’m 44 years old looking for jobs, getting on LinkedIn, making sure your profile is all fancy and doing all the recommended things you’re supposed to do when you’re job hunting, just feeling like I was beat down by the process. I know a lot of people have been through that as well, so my heart goes out to all of us in the trenches looking for jobs in that sense. But I applied to so many jobs, got so many rejections, did some interviews, liked some companies, didn’t like others, really truly tried to stay true to what I knew was a fit or not a fit. There were a couple jobs I interviewed for that I was just like, I can tell this is not something that I would want to do or just not vibing with them. Well when I applied to this job, I remember not thinking much of it. Which is kind of how it always works, right? Where you’re the least attached to something. So I interviewed with them. Really liked the vibe, really liked the company. They have an amazing culture from what I can tell. I sought out a few people on LinkedIn who already work there and talked to them about what it’s like to be a therapist there. So I start at the end of November for Ginger Health. They were recently acquired by headspace. Headspace is moving into the telehealth realm, which is really exciting too. So I’m kind of in this emerging telehealth world that’s growing and growing and growing, and that feels really exciting. So I will be a full-time therapist for Ginger Health, soon to be headspace Health, and I am super jazzed. It’s exactly what I need right now.
Claire: So explain what the difference between what you will be doing and a BetterHelp. Because when you first explained it to me, it sounded like, wait a minute, this sounds like the same thing. Just more.
Joy: Yeah, so I will be working for a company as opposed to contracting. BetterHelp therapists are contract only, meaning you get no benefits. Actually, I should back up. If you work a certain amount of hours with BetterHelp, you get some benefits. You’re eligible for some of the workplace benefits – health insurance mainly. But that’s really it, and they don’t consider you as an employee. You are just a contractor. Which is great if you have a private practice because then you have a bunch of different hands in the pot. You don’t have to have you’re just working for this one company. But I really wanted to work for a company. I was pretty clear on, I didn’t want to do private practice. I wanted to work for a company where I was on salary and that I had a full benefits package. Ginger has amazing benefits. There was a bunch of things that I wanted from an employer that I just didn’t want to keep doing contract work. That is the main difference is I will be on staff with this company having the whole benefit of clinical supervision with your teammates. I didn’t get that at BetterHelp, so you kind of feel a little bit lonely where if you have a clinical question, you just were kind of on your own or you ask your therapist clinical friends about it. This is a little bit more of that team culture. You’re actually working fora. Company again. So that’s really the main difference.
Claire: And it’s not like an app where anybody off the street can just sign up?
Joy: Not right now, not right now. Mainly with Ginger, and I don’t know enough yet obviously because I haven’t started with them. But Ginger, mainly their clientele are big companies that use them for AIP [00:09:17.24] services. At the moment, that’s what the clientele is. It’s not open to the public. But my hunch is it might be changing if headspace has acquired them. Who knows what the future will look like with that? But still telehealth. Still full-time therapy, which is what I’m used to doing. But I just haven’t done that in the telehealth space. So very similar to what I was doing at BetterHelp, but just more of a company culture feel.
Claire: More structure.
Claire: Well it’s very exciting. And I think it’s also good to reiterate what you said about those 4.5 months that you were kind of figuring out what you wanted to do. That didn’t look like just reading tarot cards and doing vision boards al day. It was a lot of applications, a lot of being turned down, a lot of not even hearing back at all. I think that when you’re in the job search, it can be so soul sucking. And it really can feel so rejecting, and you can just feel like, somebody just let me do my thing. Why doesn’t anybody want me?
Joy: I’m a catch. Yeah.
Claire: I’m amazing. Where are these people? Why can’t I even get an interview? Or I’ve been in this situation where I get to that final round. I feel like, in my past, it’s always between me and one other person. And I’m like, don’t tell me that. Don’t tell me that it’s between me and one other person. I’d almost rather get screened out at the beginning than make it to the final round and then not get the offer.
Joy: Yes. Yes, it’s exhausting.
Claire: It’s exhausting. It’s brutal. And I know a lot of people are going through that right now. I was talking to somebody the other day who was asking me, what’s the deal with this Great Recession? Are you seeing that in your industry? Asking me, am I seeing that in my industry? So you guys know I’m in marketing. I have 10-11 years marketing experience. I work for a large corporation, and I’ve always worked for larger corporations for the most part. What I’m seeing in a lot of larger companies is that what’s happening is middle and senior middle – like managers and senior manager level people are quitting. Because they’re not getting paid enough or there’s no room for advancement because the pandemic changed things or whatever the case may be. Or they’re realizing their priorities are shifting. They want something new. Whatever the reason is. And instead of replacing those people apples to apples, the company is saying, okay instead of replacing this senior manager, we’re going to hire two coordinators. We’re potentially not going to promote anyone into that senior manager role. It’s just gone now. And instead, this team is a larger team with more entry level or lower-level employees. So there’s this bottleneck happening where there is this huge need for entry level – I would say less than 3-5 years of experience – type of employees, but the people that are looking are more in the 8-10+ years’ experience level. And a lot of those positions are being eliminated. That’s at least what I’m seeing in the corporate marketing world. It’s very complicated, but you’re hearing so many people, and it feels like these two disparate worlds. On the one hand, you hear these headlines of there’s this huge worker shortage. And on the other hand, you’re talking to your friends who are like, “I can’t find a job.” At least in marketing in corporate America, that’s what’s happening. It’s very frustrating and weird.
Joy: Yeah. I’ve found something similar with… well, a couple things too. When I first started applying, I just was throwing my hat everywhere that I thought was interesting and I tried to just be very open minded. At the same time, being picky. But you can’t be super picky because you just never know after applying to something that you’re like, “Oh actually, this is a job that I would really enjoy.” But I think what I expected. Because Scott is in a field where he gets job offers day in and day out. He’s just in a very different field where they are constantly offering him jobs because he works with a lot of different companies and they really like him. So I joked because I was like, “You have constant job offers, and here I am just trying to even get a response.” It’s maddening.
Claire: I have said this so many times. Brandon, who could literally kill someone at any moment at his job – he’s a surgical nurse. His job responsibilities are significantly more technical, significantly more black and white than mine. Right? We all understand the gravity of the situation when you’re in the room while someone’s having surgery and you’re in charge of getting the supplies out and making sure things are going well. So he recently started a new job. When he went to go apply for jobs, he applied to two jobs on Indeed. Just cold applied. Got two calls back, two interviews, and two on-the-spot job offers. Practically on the spot. Later that day, they called him back and offered him the job. This is not real.
Joy: It’s a little maddening. And there are definitely days where I was bitter. I look back on these 4.5 months and I had some pretty dark days that I will share with you in a mere moment. But just for advice for people who may be looking for a job – and please chime in and share your advice. We’d love to hear. We’ll post about it. But I think the main points that I learned was LinkedIn was my best friend. Really thought LinkedIn was better for searching for jobs. User-friendly. Indeed is a little bit harder. And Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter are a little bit harder to use, like filtering out what you really want if you’re specific. If you know what you’re looking for, I think LinkedIn is great for that. Really, really focus on making sure that your resume is not going to get kicked out of those automated application systems. So do some Google research around what key words that you need to use, the length of your resume. If it’s too long, it will automatically get kicked out of those automated resume systems. Some larger corporations use that to just week people out right away, so if they get hundreds of applications, you might not even get through because of that. That’s really important to research and look into. I had a bunch of people looking over my resume and refining it and editing it, so make sure you’re doing that. That was why, when I was getting really defeated, was I was like, oh my gosh I’m doing all this and I’m getting all those auto-generated emails. But the other thing that Scott and I talked about – and I had a meltdown one day in Whole Foods. It was the end of August. I had hit the three-month mark of searching, searching, searching. And at the same time, I’m trying to be mindful of taking a break. But I’m also searching. My full-time job in the past four months has been looking for a job. My days would be packed full. I’d see telehealth patients, and then in between that I’d be looking for jobs, applying for jobs, walk the dogs, take a break, see a patient, apply for jobs. Before I knew it, it was the end of the day. Time really does fly even though you’re unemployed. Because I really made it my mission to just really, really look for a job and make sure that I was doing that all the time. If felt that pressure, too, you know. I was also trying to be like, alright Joy, chill out and take a break. It was a balance, but I figured it out. I think that I also realized – after three months, I started to get worried. I felt like I was making some progress, but it wasn’t feeling like enough. Or it didn’t have as many leads.
Claire: Like 100 steps forward, 99 steps back. You get so far, and then just nothing.
Joy: Exactly, exactly. And I’d had some interviews, but I didn’t like the company or vice versa or I just wasn’t a fit. The other thing too is, hey companies, if you interview someone and you know you’re not going to hire them, can you just immediately send them a letter and say, “no thank you”?
Claire: Yeah. Don’t make us track you down.
Joy: Oh my God. There was one. I’m not going to say who it was. They completely ghosted me after I interviewed with them. It’s one thing to just say “no thank you” after you submit a resume. Most people don’t even send you an email saying “no thank you” when you submit a resume. But this team of people interviewed me and just ghosted me. This was probably 2.5 months ago when I interviewed with them. Finally last week I get an email saying you were not chosen for the position. I wanted to be like, “Duh.” Duh. Please, just be timely with that. It’s so, so unprofessional. Anyway. End of August hits, and I think I was just in an emotional space. There was a lot going on in my life. I went to Whole Foods with Scott one day. I don’t know what it was, but I got into Whole Foods and all I could think was like… you know how we had that conversation with Cherie Chan where she was like, “My goal in life is just to go buy groceries and not have to worry about it.” That’s really kind of what I truly just love about life right now is I get to just go somewhere and buy groceries and not worry about what I’m buying. I was in Whole Foods, and I had this panic of what if I don’t find a job and I’m going to have to start worrying about what I buy – this is who silly, you guys, I know. This is where I was – what if I have to start worrying about what I buy at the grocery store because I’m going to run out of my savings. I just freeze. Scott is like, “Hey, I’m going to run downstairs.” There’s a liquor store at Belmar that we always go to. He’s like, “I’ll meet you at the car.” Okay. And I just kind of go catatonic where I can’t process anything. I’m walking around the store, and I don’t know what I need, I don’t know what I want to buy. I just end up leaving, going and sitting in the car, and I just start crying. I’m bawling my eyes out, just have this full-on meltdown. Scott sits in the car and he looks at me and I’m bawling. He’s like, “Oh my God, what happened?” The last time he saw me, I was fine.
Claire: I leave you alone for 30 seconds, and you have an existential crisis.
Joy: Yes. And the other thing too was this grocery store was next to where I used to work at the vaccine clinic. I would always go to the lunch there. For whatever reason, too, I just got really angry and mad for the reasons I had left. I was like, “I’m so mad. I’m so mad.” I was just emotional. He’s like, uh… he didn’t know what to do with me. But I think the bottom line was I got over it, right. The next day was fine. I just needed to cry. But Scott was like, “Why don’t you start applying…” because I was also looking at jobs that were management level because I’ve been doing that for a long time. Also what I realized about management roles is people tend to hire from within. They tend to promote from within with those roles, which makes a lot of sense, especially coming in as a new manager from the outside is not always the easiest thing. So I think that that was something that I had to kind of – then I just kind of course corrected. I’m going to apply for jobs that are therapist positions where potentially I could move into management if I even want to. So I changed my course. But I think the whole point of that is I also kept the mantra of it will happen. Eventually someone will hire you. It’s kind of like dating. Eventually you will find the one. It’s so much like dating.
Claire: It’s so much like dating.
Joy: Where you’re waiting for someone to call. You’re like, “Do you like me?” The rejection thing.
Claire: And when you want to get an answer, you’re like, but I don’t want to appear needy. I don’t want them to think I don’t have anything else going on.
Joy: It’s such a game.
Claire: It’s so much like dating.
Joy: It’s such a game, yeah. I’m really grateful that I went through that experience. Obviously, I can look back and be like, I do feel pretty grateful – I almost want to stay abreast of what’s going on in the job market. I learned a lot from figuring out what is out there. I think that’s something I want to keep looking at or reading about jobs out there. I think that’s really important. Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you can just forget about that stuff. I’m not planning my next move, by any means, because I have the next move. But that is something that I learned, the value of seeing where the job market is and what positions are out there. It’s an interesting journey. Just from people giving me encouragement, I always knew that I’d find another job. I knew that. And if things got desperate, of course I could just keep doing telehealth. I was trying not to do that full time because I knew that I was also trying to do my best to not overwork and enjoy my time out of the full-time workspace, which I completely have. My tag line for anyone who knows me, who’s close to me, any time they’d be like, “How are you?” I’d be like, I’m living my best life. I’m having such a good time being home with my dogs, doing telehealth on my terms and just going to the neighbor’s house every day to play with the dogs. I still feel like I’m going to have somewhat of that balance. If anyone has job hunting tips to share, just email us. I think that’s something that a lot of people can relate to and we can share them.
Claire: So like we were saying before, there’s a lot of reasons that one may look for a job. And one thing we wanted to talk about also today is toxic workplace culture. We asked for people’s questions, people’s advice, people’s stories. We got a lot. I think the biggest theme I’m seeing. We’ll read a lot of the individual ones. The biggest theme that I’m seeing so far is the fact that if you are in a difficult work environment it really can impact your entire life. And it can impact your life for years to come, even after you get out of that job. I feel like there is so much gaslighting that happens in workplace culture. That’s another big thing I’m seeing is people when they go to ask for something, want a raise or ask for a promotion or even to ask just to leave a little bit early or need anything from their employer, they’re really given this response of, “Well, aren’t you just happy to be here? Don’t you like your job?” Or if they ask for help with a problem, they’re made to feel like the problem is their fault. There’s just so much where things are not a reciprocal relationship between somebody who is working really hard, wanting to do well, wanting to go onto that next level, and then when the time comes for that to happen the employer turns around and is like, “Well, what are you talking about? Why would you ever think that we would do that?” Just so toxic and gaslighty.
Joy: I also want to just briefly say that – because it reminds me of a conversation, the first episode I had on Girls Gone WOD feed when we did the relaunch with JK, is around the ability to even do this. I want to reiterate the importance of this is just not a toxic positivity girl boss statement of “just leave your job.” “If you don’t like your place of employment just leave.” That’s not what I’m saying. I think it’s just bringing awareness that you’re not crazy, that you’re not the one that is the problem, that sometimes the system is really messed up and you might not be able to leave. So what can you do to make the most of a bad situation while also possibly looking for other jobs? So I want to recognize that too that we’re not doing the whole girl boss, live your dream life because I don’t think that – most of us are in positions that we cannot just up and leave bad situations.
Claire: Totally. And that is also a theme I’m seeing in a lot of these emails. Of I knew this was toxic and I couldn’t leave. Whether it was financially I wasn’t able to look for another job. I was on a contract, and I couldn’t leave without being penalized. I think we covered earlier in the summer the situation where sometimes if you’re new in a career path or there are certain career paths out there where these sort of grunt jobs exist that you have to get through – which is stupid and toxic, but just because we think that it’s stupid and toxic doesn’t mean that that’s not the reality for a lot of career paths. The first email we got is very similar to what I’m talking about now where this person says, “I just left a very toxic workplace three months ago after working there for five years. When I look back on it, it’s the classic unhealthy relationship story. Love at first sight. Red flags that I ignored. Slowly realizing how bad it was and then figuring out how the hell to get out. The first year was great. I felt like it was where I always wanted to be and saw myself there for years to come. The next two years were when the red flags really came out, but I just figured it was part of any business. Different personalities and perspectives. During year three, I completed all the requirements for license that I had been working toward since I graduated and expected a promotion or recognition. I did get more responsibilities, but no extra compensation.” Another big theme. “My boss also started to critique everything and treated me like a child. I was a salaried worker, but If I left even a few minutes before 5, I was yelled at in front of the rest of the staff. When I came back from maternity leave, I was bombarded with paperwork, a lot of it past due and felt like I was being punished for taking time off. One month prior to leaving, I had my yearly evaluation and asked for a raise. I was told that it couldn’t be done right now, so I immediately started looking for a new job. When I handed in my resignation, I was yelled at and told it was disrespectful for me to only put in two weeks’ notice and somebody in my position should have given a month because of the workload that I had. I was also told that I should have talked to her first and she thought we were “friends” and I owed her more than that. She did not speak to me or look at me after I gave my notice and would give me messages through others. I didn’t realize how much it affected my mental health until a month after leaving when I got super upset and anxious because I needed to leave my new job about 15 minutes early and was so scared to tell my new boss as though he would surely get upset. He didn’t. I’m just getting adjusted there, and I’m so much happier.” I feel like that’s such a common thread of stories. And also the thing with the boss getting mad when you resign, huge red flag.
Joy: Oh my gosh. Well okay, so the thing that – and speaking from my personal experience too. When I started to notice some patterns that like, hmm, this feels a little off, I tried my best to put as much energy as I could into giving coworkers, people around me information about joy in the workplace. I was always an advocate for creating a healthy workplace and what that looked like. I think someone mentioned this too in one of the comments as far as like, hey, realize whether or not you’re part of the problem or if you’re just complaining all the time. Don’t play the victim. I completely get that too. Are you just constantly complaining? Or are you trying to figure out some part of a solution in the workspace? I get that. But at the end of the day, after 2+ years of what I felt like I was screaming into a void – please tell me as an outsider if you feel like “Joy, that’s not realistic.” I need to check myself too. But I would send out articles. I would send out podcast episodes. I would send out all this stuff about, “hey, we really need to incorporate this into our management team because research actually shows” – I’d listen to Adam Grant WorkLife all the time. “Research actually shows that workers will be happier. You’ll be more productive if you do these things as a management team.” And I would get crickets. Crickets. Nothing. Nada. No one would response. No one would be like “great idea.” And granted, I didn’t have a ton of power, but I also feel like does on one care?
Claire: You’re like, why am I here if you aren’t going to take any of my advice?
Joy: It starts to feel like, oh Joy is just the Pollyanna, let’s pat her on the head. Whatever. But I think that there’s only so much of that that your soul can take before then you just have to make a decision. So the piece of trying, it’s not to say jump ship the second things get bad. But how much energy you put towards how much of this I can control or at least influence versus I have zero influence, I have tried my best to influence this culture. It has not changed one bit, so therefore I get to decide now what my next steps are.
Claire: And one person wrote in and said, “Is it possible to mistake toxic work for a miscommunication because of ADHD?” Or I think you could spin that into any type of – I don’t know if you would need a diagnosis, but there are so many different ways of communicating. And I think that what you’re saying and to answer this person and those questions of perception, the answer is perception is reality. If you feel like you’re being overlooked. If you feel like you are in a toxic place. If you feel like your desires aren’t being taken seriously or you’re not being given the opportunities that you’re asking for or that you are constantly asking for help and not getting it or whatever the case may be, then that’s the reality. If you feel that way, then that’s how it is. You don’t have to go out and seek out all this external evidence. Perception is reality, and if you feel overlooked then that’s it. That’s the end.
Joy: Right, that is your experience. Again, I think there’s a lot of times where you have to talk to your supervisor or talk to coworkers or try to say, “Hey, here’s something I’m noticing. Help me understand.” Let’s go to JK’s podcast. Help me understand. Be curious. Never assume. All the things that you do in a workplace where you just try to get all the information. And then if you get all the information and you still feel like you’re overlooked or that you’re not happy – I have a weird feeling about not being happy at work. I think there’s way more nuance to that than what it sounds like, which is a whole different discussion. But if you feel like you’ve done everything that you can and your values are that you want to grow in a workplace and that you want to feel supported and heard and that you’re not getting your needs met there, then yeah, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. But everyone is different too. Some people, they want to put their head down, they want to get their job done, and they want to leave. They don’t pay attention to all that stuff. This is not just a generalized experience either.
Claire: No. But what I think I’m trying to say is, if you feel you aren’t getting X, Y, Z need met, whether that’s interpersonal, communication, opportunities for advancement, opportunities for a raise, whatever the case may be. If you feel like that need’s not getting met, you don’t have to break your back trying to prove to yourself that you’re right. You don’t have to stick it out just because other people tell you, “You should just be grateful. My manager doesn’t even let me work from home,” whatever it is. You can play that comparison game all day long. But I think that there’s so many situations in jobs where we tell ourselves, “This isn’t that big of a deal. I should just be grateful.” Yes, it’s important to gut check with the people around you that you trust. But at the end of the day, you don’t need this mounting pile of evidence before you can start looking for another job if you feel like this is not a supportive place that you want to be. And you can also just tell yourself – we talked about this about leaving other types of relationships this year too. You don’t have to wait for it to get so bad that you’re crying in your car before you’re going into work or that all you think about is whether or not to leave your job.
Joy: Yeah. I think we’re also talking more about the difference between toxic workplaces and just general workplace headaches. Workplace headaches, too, it’s going to happen, but is it where you’re leaving every day crying? Or fantasizing about leaving or finding a different job? That’s information that you want to pay attention to. The other purpose of us having this conversation is to validate your feelings. Especially as women because I think there’s a lot of us that tend to explain it away or feel like we just have to put up with it or feel like we just have to take it, and then we just grit our teeth and move through it. Especially that there tends to be more males in power above us that that will really influence our decisions too. Of, oh we’re being too emotional or whatever, fill in the blank. This is an important discussion to talk about the realities of it of how other people handled it. Validate that if you’re struggling with this too, you can always make next moves and look for other jobs, obviously, while you’re in a job. It doesn’t mean that you’re jumping ship and just being like, hey everybody, quit your job and leave.
Claire: On that note, another one of the emails, she says, “One thing I continually ran into, which I’m still trying to understand if it was really something on my end that I needed to do better at or if it was toxic, was related to career growth. I was in my mid to late 20’s when I worked there. I had hoped to have guidance from my manager at how to advance to the next level. Whenever I brought it up or asked for help or areas of improvement, I was told that it was my responsibility to come up with this plan and then manage my manager to get there. I tried this on numerous occasions, only to not receive advancements. And when I would express my frustration, I was met with no constructive feedback. It was very frustrating and may have just been a bad manager experience. But I know of many other employees on other teams that had a similar experience of having to manage themselves and struggled to come up with a growth plan without any guidance. Due to this, most people ended up leaving when they realized advancement was not a priority. Is that a bad workplace, or is that greener employees needing to learn how to take control of their career?” Yeah, that’s a great question. And also, if you’re a greener employee who needs more guidance, then that’s not a good fit for you. We have a lot of folks who wrote in on Instagram. Somebody’s dealing with male favoritism on a team that she’s been on for ten years in finance. Again, working in marketing it’s pretty even split between women and men on my teams. But I can imagine being in a field like finance or somewhere else that is typically a little bit more male dominated, you have a whole host of other problems. People being asked or expected to work in the outside of working hours, always a red flag. I really feel for this person. “My boss is toxic, and management is just waiting for him to retire. Everyone else is leaving, and I can’t leave.”
Joy: Yeah, that’s very real. That’s very real. So how do you get through that? Honestly, in those instances, if there’s people at work that you can lean on that are positive influences and that you can limit your interactions with the people that really drain you, that is something that helped me. I would really stick to the people that energize me and tried to do as little interactions with the vampires who literally suck the energy out of you. But it’s hard. Because like I said before, this is not just an easy fix. I think it’s mostly recognizing when you’re in it and then saying, alright, here’s my reality but how can I work through it if I can’t leave.
Claire: The person who wrote that, we happen to know her and I happen to know she also has young kids. Then you also have all this stacked on top where you’re also depleted in other areas of your life. It’s also so easy to isolate the toxic workplace conversation without considering other areas of your life. Like I’ve had jobs where if I had maybe not had one kids – or my one sort of toxic job that I refer to a lot. If I hadn’t been in a situation where Brandon was in nursing school and had no bandwidth to do anything, and if Miles hadn’t been really young and we hadn’t been in this financial situation that we were in, my job might not have felt so toxic because I could have had other areas of my life where I could have gotten more support or felt more space to unwind or relax. But the fact that the rest of my life was also very stressful meant that a really stressful workplace, I just didn’t have any extra resources to put towards “self-care” or trying to manage my stress elsewhere.
Joy: Was that the same time that you were going through postpartum depression? Was that before or after?
Claire: It was like right after. I was coming out of depression when I started that job?
Joy: The toxic job?
Claire: The toxic job.
Joy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Claire: So I had just come off of 8-9 month of super hardcore mental –
Joy: And that’s pretty freaking draining.
Joy: You don’t just get over it, you know.
Claire: And honestly, yeah. As anyone who’s gone through depressive phased in their life knows, it’s not like the switch flips off one day. It’s like one day you wake up and realize it’s been a while since you felt that way. That’s a whole other episode.
Joy: It’s a whole other episode. The way that it sounds too, which it’s not, is you’re not bouncing around in a field of roses either. After it’s over –
Claire: It was so tiring.
Joy: Yes. You’re like, I’m exhausted. I want to read another one really quick that came in messages. It says, “Perfect timing. Friday was my last day in the corporate world of 2+ years. I didn’t get paid enough to continue living in California, so while we were working from home I moved back to Colorado for my bank account, my mental health, and my relationship. A couple months ago, upper management decided I couldn’t work from home full time. Even though that’s what we’ve been doing since March 2020 and other people have been doing it for longer. I think it’s all for the best though. The job was stressing me out and had been for a while. There’s a big generational gap between old school upper management and the younger generation who actually work. Red flags. Call employees “team members.” Everyone at the company who doesn’t have a family living with roommates because they can’t afford rent. Even my boss’s boss who’s been at the company ten years had to buy a house with her sister. Boss sending message after hours and during the weekend and much more. Is there any corporate job that isn’t like that?” I really want to know that as well. I was talking with a good friend right after I left my job, and she was like, “You know, Joy. I have yet to see” – I think I’ve said this in a previous expose. But she’s like, “I have yet to see you either drink the Kool-Aide and you just become one of those Stepford people. Or you get out of that altogether.” Because she’s like, “I’ve yet to see it in any corporate culture where it is done well.” And that’s unfortunate because I think there could be such a good shift and change in people’s mental health and employee retention, all of the things that Adam Grant studies for crying out loud. Which drive me crazy because I’m like, why don’t employers watch that research. But anyway, that’s another tangent. But I think it’s hard because what she mentioned about the generational gap, old school upper management will not die.
Claire: Not literally die, you guys. Not literally die. We’re not wishing death.
Joy: We’re not 9 to 5 here. [singing] “Working 9 to 5.”
Claire: I think that’s true. And something that I have experienced personally is that if you kind of have to come in guns blazing and say, “I won’t do that.” Like if you email me after work hours – I mean, I have two phones. And everybody’s like, “Why do you have two phones? Don’t you know work will pay for your phone?” I’m like, yeah, but I have my personal phone and I have my work phone and never the twain shall meet. After 5 o’clock, I put my work phone away and I don’t pick it back up until 9am the next morning. Sometimes there’s maybe 30-60 minutes of wiggle room on either side of those deadlines if I’m in the middle of something and waiting for a reply. But I don’t pick up my phone. And I turn off my phone on the weekends. People know that they’re not going to be able to get a hold of me. And if there is an extraneous circumstance, then I can discuss that ahead of time. Of course those are going to happen every once in a while, and that’s fine. I’m willing to do that if it’s previously communicated and it’s once in a blue moon. And so that has been me coming in and saying, you can email me any time you want. That’s your decision. If you want to email me at 7 o’clock at night, that’s fine. Maybe that’s because you have kids and you had to leave early and go pick your kids up from school and this is when you’re able to get to my email. That’s your prerogative. My prerogative is that I’m not going to see that email until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. And I had to learn that the hard way from a previous job where I would be getting calls at 5 in the morning, 8 at night with these questions. And the second that I started saying, “No, I’m not going to answer your calls anymore,” it was like, “Oh okay, then I just won’t call you at that time.” It felt so scary. And it turned out to be this pretty straight-forward fix of saying, “Hey, I don’t start work until 9. I’ll get back to you at that time.” You have to be willing to own that and own that fallout from that. I’m the type of person, I have pretty thick skin, so I know that that would be so scary for most people that it would almost cause more stress that to just answer the email.
Joy: But I think that’s important. I think about my experience, too. There was this weird culture that started to develop where it was like, who could be the most – I’m going to use an unprofessional term – ass-kissy. And be the shining star, the gold star person. It was just kind of like, why are we competing? What is that about? It felt very, very high school. It felt Mean Girls. It was one thousand percent Mean Girls. Which is unfortunate because you have all this talent. You have a lot of talented people, and it is just going down the drain because of poor management. That happens everywhere, and I think it’s just really unfortunate. It, again, employee retention, all of the things I just mentioned, but that is something that when you start to all of the sudden see that, then you think that you have to participate in that culture because you have to keep up with everybody instead of drawing boundaries and saying, “I’m not going to check emails on the weekends or take calls on the weekends.” Then it’s like, well so-and-so is doing it, so then they look like the good – anyway, it’s so crazy. It’s crazy-making.
Claire: I have a coworker like that right now who will answer your 10 o’clock email. I’m like, good for her. One day, if a promotion comes down the line and they pick her over me because she’ll do the 10pm email, then let her have it. Because if that is what’s required to move up in this business, then I don’t want it.
Joy: Yeah, I want no part of it.
Claire: You have to be willing to own that because that’s hard. I think it’s also part of the job interview process. If you’re in a job that is toxic and you decide you want to look around and you get to an interview process, you have to be willing to ask, how do you encourage work-life balance in your employees? And you have to listen for an authentic answer. And you have to be able to ask other people that work there, what happens if you get an email at 8 o’clock at night, what is the expectation? Or what happens if you get a call at 6 o’clock in the morning, what’s the expectation? And you have to be really listening for the real answer. And you have to be willing to walk away before you even get in the door if it feels like that’s not going to be aligned with what you want. And hey, if you want to work weird hours, then that’s great. You can do that.
Joy: Good on you.
Claire: Good on you. I have had conversations where someone will say, “We have great PTO here.” I’m like, I don’t need two weeks to go to Mexico. I need to be able to leave for an hour in the middle of the afternoon to go pick my kid up from school.
Claire: Right. I don’t need to be able to go backpack around Europe.
Joy: I don’t need two weeks to go to Mexico. I just think that’s funny because it’s true. You just need to be able to care for your family and drop things when you need to pick up your child.
Claire: Exactly. I need it to not be weird if I don’t answer your 3 o’clock email until 4 o’clock because I was out picking up my kid a couple days a week. Those jobs do exist. It’s just a matter of finding them and being willing to have the consequences of holding those boundaries. Because there might be consequences. The toxic job that I always refer to that I left, one day I looked at my boss and realized I don’t want her life. That, to me, was the moment where I really knew that I was done. To look at upper management and say I don’t want to make the sacrifices that it will take to get there. I don’t want that lifestyle. I don’t want to be checking my email.
Claire: It’s one thing to have so much work that you can’t finish and maybe you want to work and get a little bit ahead in the evening. We’ve all had those phases.
Joy: Of course.
Claire: But if that’s the expectation, then that’s a different story.
Joy: Yeah. That’s a good point. I was very much in that mind space too where I’m like, if this is how they’re going to operate and this is how they’re going to treat people, treat professional smart people, I want no part of this. No part of it. Again, very sad. But I had to take a really good hard look and say, “No thank you.” If this is how they’re going to treat people, I’m out. Bye.
Claire: Is it Oprah, Maya Angelou? Who said this quote? “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Joy: I want to say it’s Maya Angelou.
Claire: Yeah, Maya. And then Oprah.
Joy: And Oprah says it all the time because Maya, yeah.
Claire: Yeah. It’s like that is also true about corporate cultures. Believe your business when they show you who they are the first time. Believe the culture that they have, not the culture that they want to pretend that they have. I went into that toxic job that I always talk about, and before I started working there every single person was like, “Wow, I used to know someone who worked there, and they only worked there for a year.” Really high turnover. Famous for high turnover. And I was like, oh, interesting. [suspenseful noises]
Joy: [laughing] Careful. Really quick, I want to just point out the things that I’ve already noticed. And there’s no perfect workplace of course, but what I’ve noticed that’s wildly different from Ginger already, the place that I’m going to be working, is every single person I’ve talked to up until this point is a person of culture. Great, they hire a diverse staff. I’ve gotten lip service on that in the past where they’re like, “We need to hire more diverse staff,” but they never do it. So that was thing one. I’m like, great, they’re walking the walk in terms of making sure that they are hiring a diverse pool of people. They immediately talked about work-life balance in a way that was, again, walk the talk where they give you mental health days every month, they have a very flexible PTO schedule where you don’t have to have seniority. Which I know a lot of more startup type of companies do that, but the managers that I talk to specifically gave me examples of working with their staff to undo the damage that they have seen at previous work cultures. Meaning, hey, I’ve had to talk to some of my staff members when they were sick and trying to push through working when they were sick. Or encouraging them to take more time off even though they had just taken some time off. And trying to undo that “we have to work all the time and I can’t take this day off because I just took this day off.” Specific examples of actually saying I recognize that we are different in how we operate and that’s going to take some time to get used to was already a positive in my mind. Where I’m like, yeah, I’m probably going to have a hard time getting used to this because I came from such a different environment. But those are the things that I am already noticing that I’m like, this is why I want to work here. Last, let’s end with communication style really quick. Because I don’t want to also just make this all about, hey, if you’re unhappy leave.
Joy: So what else maybe is a nuance that could come into play here? Maybe you do need to sit down and say, “I’ve noticed some things that aren’t working here.” What are some things that you feel like people could do to maybe communicate or bring this to light and maybe make some changes? What do you think?
Claire: I mean, the biggest thing I think is boundaries. Those are so hard to do retroactively. Once you’ve been in a situation already for months or years where people around you have been emailing you, calling you at all hours of the day, expecting things of you that aren’t part of your job, that are wildly not part of your job, these things that once in a while are okay but if they’re regular parts of your day can lead to being burnt out is setting really hard boundaries around those and having the hard conversations with folks in order to put those into place and not making it feel personal to them. Maybe this is a conversation with your manager. Maybe it’s with your coworkers. Maybe it’s with all of the above. And saying, “Hey. I’ve been feeling overworked lately.” Maybe “overworked” is the wrong word. But “I’ve been feeling” fill in the blank – overworked, bunt out. “I’m feeling like I’m heading towards burn out and I don’t want to get there. I’m going to start creating some clearer boundaries around my work hours, and I’d like you to not expect to hear from me outside of hours of 9 to 5 unless there’s an emergency.” That to me is the biggest thing that you can do. And then how that’s received will tell you a lot, I think, about what your future options are going to be. I think that if your manager or your coworkers say, “Okay.” They might roll their eyes or say, “You think you’re overworked? I worked 90 hours last week.” Well, let them have that badge. You don’t need to compete for that badge anymore. Put down wanting to win the crown for wanting to be the hardest worker or working the most hours. Instead decide that you want the crown that says, “I know the difference between my workday and my home day.” Or “I have work-life balance that works for me.” Let your goal be to have a fulfilling life outside of work while still being an effective employee. You don’t have to be the teacher’s pet at work anymore. I think that’s the biggest thing that I would do. Again, I say that sort of, “Of course, just set some boundaries” because for me, that’s something I’m very comfortable with. But it can be so terrifying and feel so vulnerable because you feel like you’re putting yourself in a position where people can get mad at you or you can be seen as not being ambitious or not being hardworking because you’re willing to set those boundaries. And you have to be okay with that. I would say the only other one quick tip to lose workplace burnout that I would propose is really getting clear about your own communication style. This is where I think things like Myers-Briggs or Enneagram can really be helpful in helping you learn more about ways that other people can effectively communicate with you. The times when I’ve really appreciated things like Myers-Briggs and Enneagram – we have talked in the past about how they can be really overdone and they can really pigeonhole people. The things that I do appreciate about knowing those labels about myself is that they’ve helped me learn what communication things I just assume that everyone wants or needs or uses, only to realize that maybe this is something that’s specific to people with a similar personality type to me. So if you don’t know any of those labels for yourself, it might be helpful to figure them out and learn more about how you give and receive effective communication so that you can be aware of that.
Joy: Yeah. And I think if you’re not meeting with your manager regularly, these are things – and especially if it’s not a great work environment, maybe you’re not. Maybe your manager isn’t communicating with you at all. But if you’re having frequent meetings with your manager, these are things that you should be talking about with that person. So it’s not just kind of coming out of nowhere. But if you’re not in a position where that happens, then yeah, it may feel scary to have this conversation all of the sudden. If you’re like, by the way, these are some boundaries. But I think there’s no risk in advocating to say, “Hey, I really want to do a good job here, but these are the things that I’m considering chaining. Let’s talk about it.” So it’s not just like you’re ordering, “This is what I need. These are my demands.” Because it can kind of feel that way when you’re asking for what you need. I think it’s important. If you can help it, don’t do it on an email.
Claire: Alright guys, thank you for joining us on this journey of professional development.
Joy: Professional development by Joy and Claire.
Claire: Professional development. Professional… what’s that word?
Joy: Still trying to figure it out.
Claire: Yeah, professional not knowing what we’re doing. We hope you’re having a great week. We hope that you’re not currently sitting in a job that you hate.
Joy: Yeah, hopefully.
Claire: Send us your job searching tips. We will share them. You can find us on Instagram @joyandclaire_, joyandclaire.com. If you are ever having a problem streaming one of our episodes through your favorite podcast app, every once in a while the feeds just get confused, the internet gets confused, satellites get out of wack, who knows what. Every once in a while, if you can’t find us for any reason, you can find all of our episodes at joyandclaire.com and can steam them directly from the website. It’s very easy. They’re always there. They’re posted there first mere moments before iTunes eventually picks them up and then everyone else picks them up. You can always find them there. And the majority of our past episodes are transcribed there as well if you are ever wanting to just read our episodes and imagine our voices in your head. Thank you so much for joining us. Please share our podcast with a friend, leave a review, and we’ll talk to you next week.
Joy: Love you, guys. Bye.