Advice column: morale is bad and people are leaving at my new employers, and it’s stressing me. What can I do?

Dear Ash

I recently started in a new post where I thought there would be good opportunity for career progression. However, I have become very concerned about the high staff turnover and general negativity expressed by many employees in the firm. In the last month alone, at least six people have left, and some of them were allegedly “pushed” rather than choosing to leave. There seems to be a culture of bullying and lack of communication. This negativity is taking its toll on me, and I’m feeling increasingly stressed and also feel unable to make any real rapport with people as they seem distracted by work pressures and possibly the threat of being axed. Despite morale being low, there seems little or no recognition from management about the issues. I am the main breadwinner and can’t really afford to leave my job. I’m concerned as well that leaving so soon into a job is not going to look good on my CV.

Ash replies:

The current situation clearly seems to be taking its toll on you, and it is important that you make yourself the priority despite all the vortex of negativity around you.

Unfortunately, there will be many like you who at interview will have been sold a job as being the best thing since sliced bread but only after joining do they discover the reality of the situation. Playing devil’s advocate, it may be that the company is going through a period of transition and that people are leaving as part of such transition before things improve. However, only you are best able to assess the situation, and if the company seems to be failing, it may be advisable to keep an eye out for other opportunities in the market in order to keep your options open.

Try to speak to management about the situation in order to seek assurances as best you can about your position. If such assurances are not forthcoming or you are unable to feel at ease, then do consider alternative positions as it is important to prioritise your health. Although I understand your concerns about being the main breadwinner, if you fail to make yourself a priority now, you may risk a deterioration in your health due to ongoing stress which may result in you being unable to work in any case.

Leaving a job so early after starting may be questionable, but it can always be explained away – for example, you found your dream job and had to apply for it, or being more honest (without being negative), there was a high staff turnover due to significant restructuring and the job therefore changed from the one that was originally advertised. Just remember to carry out as much research as possible on any new employer before making your next move, and if possible try to seek out the opinion of one or two of their employees (whether in person or on the feedback sites on the internet) in order to try to gauge the reality behind the scenes. Good luck!

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email:


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