‘Trauma Jumping’ Is a Concerning New Trend For Job-Hoppers — 3 Signs You're Falling Prey

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July 23, 2024 at 5:44AM UTC

The Great Resignation has given employees the freedom to quit and start anew, this time with better working conditions, titles and even salaries. As the quitting trend continues to 2022, those who leave companies for better opportunities — and leave again, for even better ones than that — will prove just how much job-hopping can advance your career.

Unfortunately, there are also job-hoppers who job-hop for other, more negative reasons; Job hoppers who need to leave jobs quickly because of toxic workplaces, bosses and abusive environments they didn’t see coming.

If you’re a job hopper in the latter bucket and you’re seeing a pattern where you keep jumping ship for internal reasons — rather than for a career change or advancement — you may be falling prey to “trauma jumping.”

“Trauma jumping” is when you job hop because you’re experiencing workplace trauma, and you’re easily triggered to keep switching jobs. 

What is workplace trauma?

Workplace trauma happens after people are exposed to crises, hurtful or toxic experiences at work. Some examples of these experiences include:

  • Repeated microaggressions or bullying
  • Unresolved or stressful interpersonal conflicts
  • Life-threatening events
  • Excessive workload and pressure
  • Physically or emotionally unsafe work environment

What are the signs of workplace trauma?

Once you experience any of these events, you may start to feel emotional, physical and psychological reactions akin to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Constant fatigue or burnout
  • Frequent Headaches or other aches and pains
  • Irritability, angry outburst
  • Feelings of anxiousness and helplessness
  • Negative self-talk 
  • Decreased focus and increased confusion
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms (isolation, increased use of substances)

If you have workplace trauma and have been job-hopping, here are the signs that your job-hopping may be a sign of “trauma jumping” — and how to cope.

How to know if you're "trauma jumping."

1. Be honest about why you’ve been switching jobs.

Did you pursue this new opportunity because it’s something you really love? Because of the higher salary, location or benefits? Understanding trauma jumping means understanding your “why” – “why” you decided to both leave your old company and join the new one. If your reasons are more aligned with career advancement, you’re most likely not trauma jumping. 

If you’re leaving because you’re having trouble focusing, coping and connecting at your current job, understand if this is a result of the actual work environment (is it toxic? Do others share that view?) or if you’re feeling the effects of workplace trauma.

2. Catch the warning signs before you decide to leave.

Unfortunately, trauma responses and responses to current toxic environments can feel and look the same. To understand whether you’re having a trauma response or if you’re in another toxic environment, take a step back to assess your current work culture. Are you being supported and offered resources that can help you grow and change? Are your coworkers kind and invested in your success?

According to Chelsea Jay, Employee Experience Advocate and Coach, common signs of a toxic workplace include:

  • Name-calling
  • Microaggressions
  • Public humiliation
  • Rumors and gossiping
  • Unequal treatment
  • Gaslighting
  • Intimidation
  • Belittling or dismissing ideas

3. Find avenues to cope and work through your trauma.

Workplace trauma is real trauma and should be taken seriously. First, be kind to yourself and know you’re not alone. According to Garen Staglin, Co-founder and Chairman of One Mind at Work, COVID-19 has only exacerbated workplace trauma; the US reported 83% higher levels of post-traumatic stress compared to pre-pandemic.  

Being kind to yourself doesn’t mean just facing your feelings and trying to work through them alone. Experts recommend talking to others about your experiences and what you’re going through with others. It doesn’t matter if they’re a friend, family member or even HR rep — as long as they’re someone you trust. Professional help can also help with trauma-informed care and support that may suit your specific coping needs.

While job-hopping may have rid of its bad rap, not all job-hopping is created equal. If you’re feeling mentally stuck, frustrated and burnt out in whatever position you land in, you may be trauma jumping as a result of workplace trauma. Luckily, once you recognize the signs, there are ways to stop the pattern, cope and reestablish a healthy relationship with work.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for identifying and coping with workplace trauma? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers.

This article reflects the views of the author and not those of Fairygodboss.

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