Q&A: I Found a Better Job, But I Feel Guilty Leaving My Current Job?

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Q:  I work part time for a small company. I’ve only been there 6 months, but I know the turnover rate is really high, so that’s probably close to the average length people stay there. I enjoy the job itself, although it’s very demanding; but there are some management issues within the company that get to me.

I started applying for other jobs, intending to have two jobs, but I got offered a job that I know I would love, and that pays a little more than what I’m making now and has a lot more opportunities for advancement. The problem is that they need me to have open availability. I told them during the interview that I have a part time job already, but that I’ve been looking for something else, and after I give my two weeks notice I will have open availability. When they offered me the job I told them I’d take a few days to think about it and get back to them, so that’s where I’m at now.

I would feel really guilty leaving my current job. Like I said, there are some problems with the company, but I do enjoy the work itself, and my boss has been really great to me. He promoted me after only a few months of working there, he gave me a raise, he increased my hours when I asked him to, and he’s very understanding when it comes to needing time off or changing the schedule. And like I said, the turnover rate is high, so they’re almost always short on employees. We just had 3 people quit within a month, and I would feel awful leaving them without another person, especially because I know my boss likes me.

So I don’t know what to do. Should I take the other job, where I would be making more money and have the chance to learn more about the field I’m in and move up, or should I stay at my current job, that I do like, out of loyalty and guilt?
-Julie

A: Julie, because you are grappling over this decision, I can tell that you are the type of person that values relationships in the workplace and that you are conscientious about not disappointing the people with whom you have formed relationships, namely your current boss. This is truly honorable. Consider, however, that there may be a way to be loyal to both your current boss and yourself.

Before I get into that, here are the things I have surmised from what you have said:

You work for a small company with high turnover and very limited staff
Your current job is part time
You have been there for 6 months (most people’s highest length of stay)
You enjoy the job, though it is very demanding
You take issue with the way the company is managed

AND…

You sought out (and have found) additional employment
You feel that you would enjoy this new job
The new job pays more than your current job.
The new job has a lot more opportunities for advancement than your current job.
The new job offers an opportunity to learn more about the field you are in.

BUT…

The new job requires open availability (which you guaranteed after a two-week notice)
You feel guilty about leaving your current job because your boss gave you a raise, promoted you quickly, and understands your need for flexibility.

First and foremost, you have a responsibility to be loyal to yourself. This includes finding stable employment that pays you well, affords you the opportunity to learn and perfect your craft, and rewards you with sufficient opportunities to advance in your field.  However, it would seem that you are considering forfeiting this opportunity to remain in a very unstable environment where the company’s mismanagement forces you to work harder to meet the demands placed upon you by the lack of employees to do the work….and you have only been there for 6 months.  Why is that?  You mentioned that your boss has been great to you, however, it is possible that your dedication and work ethic earned you that promotion and raise, and his understanding about your scheduling needs as well?  When considered that way, would he really be getting the short end of the stick if you left to better your career?  Is there any guarantee that he would not be the next victim (or even player) in the high turnover you’ve seen?

I would recommend finding a way to terminate your current employment that includes maintaining a strong relationship with your boss.   Let him know that you are aware that your leaving puts him in a bind, but that you are willing to spend some time helping him recruit someone to replace you (during your final two weeks, of course).  If that is not feasible, offer your services on a much more limited basis when you are not needed on your new job, until something else works out for your boss.

Best wishes on your new job!

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