Have you ‘end-zoned’ your job? Why being cynical at work is dangerous


It can be hard to get out of this mindset (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Find yourself rolling your eyes after every comment your boss makes? Perhaps you feel that your workplace isn’t transparent, like there’s something fishy going on.

Well, whether you realise it or not, you might have ‘end-zoned’ your job.

Much like when you friend-zone a potential partner, end-zoning at work is when you’ve extinguished the passion in your working life, going through the motions with an attitude that says you’re well and truly over it.

And the root cause of end-zoning? Cynicism.

Once you’re trapped in that cycle of scepticism and doubt, there’s no going back. You’ve put your job in the end-zone.

Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor, explains that end-zoning is not only bad for your current job – but could affect you if you move elsewhere too.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Workplace cynicism is dangerous as without trust and confidence in your employer, you will likely be unsatisfied in your role.

‘Feeling unsatisfied can easily lead to looking for new opportunities. But if employees don’t pinpoint what caused the cynicism, they risk repeating the same behaviour in their next role.

‘Alternatively, if workers stay in their job, the danger is that they become increasingly disengaged with the company and their position. Disengagement is hard to hide, and it can often impact a person’s productivity. Decreasing output is a red flag to your employer regarding your commitment to the company.’

Glassdoor research shows the biggest drivers of employee satisfaction are the culture and values of the company, the strength of senior leadership and access to career opportunities.

They also found that one in five employees want their values to align with the mission and culture of their employer.

This all means that when your views mismatch your employers, cynicism is likely to creep in – and the end-zone could be near. ‘Cynicism can be difficult to hide because a worker’s productivity often drops as their engagement with the company decreases,’ says Jill.

End-zoning also means you’re likely to feel like you aren’t doing your best. Jill says it can ‘dampen your confidence and negatively impact your performance.’

She adds: ‘A lack of confidence can make you feel invisible and unable to grab opportunities. Invisibility can see employees overlooked for promotion.’

Career experts on TikTok have also been warning their followers to beware of feeling cynical at work.

Kelsea, known as The Seamless Coach, who focuses on wellbeing at work, says in a TikTok video that this emotion can often come before people quit and reach the end of their time at a company.

She says: ‘Not only is [cynicism] referred to as the second stage of burnout, it’s also a compounding emotion, which means it doesn’t just happen over night.

‘You’re probably passed the point where you’re just annoyed or exhausted.’

She says by this stage you’re likely feeling ‘distress’ at your manager or company.

‘Once you’ve reached this point, it’s really hard to pull back from it,’ she adds.

‘Even if they were to turn things around, on their part, you don’t trust them to do it.

‘So it leave you stuck and feeling like you have no control or almost with helplessness, which pushes you in further stages of burnout.’

If this resonates, it’s time to think about why you’re stuck in this emotion – and then decide if it’s time to move on somewhere new, or if you can live with it.

This cynicism is there for a reason and it’s communicating something to you.



How to get the spark back at work

Jill shares her tips:

  • Know the signs of cynicism: It may feel like your cynicism has appeared almost without warning. But take a closer look at your recent behaviour as the slow burning signs of cynicism can be hard to spot. Clear indications of cynicism include feeling less optimistic about your work, assuming praise from colleagues or your line manager without good intent, negatively questioning the strategies put forward by the company, and no longer seeing those around you as being genuine.
  • Admit there is an issue: You can’t resolve a problem if you don’t think there’s an issue at hand. So, if you are feeling unhappy at work, take a step back and evaluate what the cause of your dissatisfaction might be. And ask yourself the tough question: have you lost the trust and confidence you once had in your job? Self-reflection can be difficult, so don’t be afraid to ask a trusted friend for help.
  • Embrace positivity: Workplace cynicism doesn’t necessarily mean you need to immediately leave your job. Create space to remind yourself why you took the position in the first place and what you liked about the company. Perhaps your priorities have changed since joining the company or senior leadership has taken a new direction. Remembering the initial attraction will spark positivity and help you to enjoy your role again.
  • Have a conversation with your line manager: If you feel cynical about your job or company, open up to your manager about your worries. Even if you get answers you don’t want to hear, the responses should be enough to evaluate if the job and company are still the right fit for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to quit: Stigma once attached to job-hopping has been lifted. If a job isn’t making you happy, there are other avenues you can pursue. The current labour shortages across the UK mean that companies will find hiring challenging in 2023. So if you feel cynical about your job, dust off your CV, start expanding your career networks, and look for a new opportunity with a company in which you feel confident and can trust.

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