Top reasons for quitting your job include low pay, no advancement and feeling disrespected

Most US workers who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation of 2021 have cited low pay, lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work as their top reasons for quitting.

Source: Pew Research Center

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Josh Wright
May 23, 2022 2:00 pm

I’m quite surprised that not liking your job anymore isn’t up there, although I fully comprehend it’s a privilege not everyone has. Even so, losing the passion for your work has to be somewhere in the equation and probably is factored in in some of the main reasons cited. It’s not easy to articulate but I will try to give an idea of what I was feeling. So the summary goes: I quit my job, not because of low pay, disrespect and no advancement. Instead I quit because the fire had gone out. Don’t confuse that with me getting fired!

I worked as a Construction Planner. For the majority of it I remember coming into work cheerful and on good terms with the team. It was fun. Sometimes I’d stay longer than I needed. Not for overtime. Just because it was a nice place to be. The company perks were good, pay was respectable and I was networking well, if I say so myself, in the business. 

I don’t know when it was exactly. There were fleeting moments when I would think about the purpose of my job. It needed to be done. Logistics, schedules, budgets. All that good stuff. However as time went on I couldn’t stop thinking about fulfilment. Was I making the impact I wanted in the world? Soon I wasn’t feeling it in my heart. This is the part I think is difficult to articulate so bear with me.

I remember watching one of those reality TV shows way back when about singers who competed to become a boy band. It was called Popstars: The Rivals. The band was called One True Voice. It was a mix of good individual singers but if you were to look at them, you would never have picked them to be part of the same band. You could say they were destined to fail. At that time, however, it was the best exposure you could get. The band members had been on national TV every week, watched by millions, and they had each won a recording contract. The path was open to them for massive success. That’s why I was shocked when a few months later one of the band members announced his departure. His reason was that he didn’t feel it in his heart and he would try to make it as a solo performer.

At the time I didn’t understand it at all. You have the best platform you can get! Make a name for yourself first. Get a few hits under your belt. If you leave now, you’re risking it all and throwing away a massive opportunity. I always thought it would have been better for him to stick it out and stay with the band for a while so he could lay claim to having success in the charts. The opportunity to carve a solo career would be much easier this way. Instead he left the band and entered the race to be a solo artist as a relatively unknow. He never made it as a famous solo artist, but now I do understand what he meant by not feeling it in his heart.

In my situation, all the signs were telling me to stay. Good money, good reputation, opportunities for advancement. So why did I leave? I felt empty. Is this really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? Planning? I have thought to myself that I could have stuck it out for a few more years, just like I thought the band member should have done, but I remember a distinct feeling I had. It was a sinking kind of feeling. When I pictured myself continuing to work in the same job, the thought of it exhausted me. That is the best way I can explain it. It made me feel tired, like I just don’t have energy for this anymore.

There’s a saying; when you know, you know. By that point I knew. As I said at the beginning of the post, I recognize that it is a privilege to be able to quit your job because you don’t feel it anymore. There will be so many others working in their jobs, not feeling it anymore, but sticking with it for one reason or the other. It’s probably why in some people you don’t see any initiative or verve for their work. They just clock in, do the bare minimum and clock out. Rinse and repeat. In my situation the heart was telling me something and it couldn’t be ignored.

May 25, 2022 7:15 am

One time I took a part-time job that was an entry level position. I had a college degree, had worked in the corporate world for over 10 years but was made redundant. My severance was a silver lining but I was struggling to land a job at a similar level. I looked at entry level jobs like barista, office clerk, salesman. Previously my job was taken home with me. To explain, I would mull over work problems when I got home and I’d answer work emails late at night. To me, the entry level job could be something I’d do for a few days a week and then switch off entirely, meaning I could spend the rest of my time looking for another job.

I landed a job as an office clerk, way below my previous pay grade and responsibilities I was used to. Things started off well but eventually what led me to quit was the disrespect. It wasn’t open disrespect in the way you hear about in some office environments. I wasn’t mocked or my role made fun of. Nothing was personal either. It was the small things that made me quit

One example was entering a virtual meeting of managers to take notes of the meeting. The meeting organizer said hello to everyone except me. I get that I wasn’t a manager but at least acknowledge that I’m there. I thought it was uncalled for. Whenever I held a meeting in my old role, it didn’t matter if you were the CEO or a post-room assistant, I’d acknowledge your attendance at the meeting.

Another thing I took issue with was how blame was placed on me for something I was asked to do. One time I booked a hotel for a manager because he had a conference in another city. I did that and booked his plane ticket too. I sent him all the details about a week in advance. The evening before the conference I got a call from the manager saying the check-in at the hotel couldn’t find his reservation. I scrambled through my emails to find the reservation confirmation and said that the reservation had in face been confirmed.

The confusion came from the fact that he turned up to a different hotel! When I told him I had booked another hotel across town, he got irritated and gruffly hung up. Later in the week I learned that he had sent a complaint to my boss about me. My boss told me he was used to staying at a certain hotel. I was stupefied that I can book a hotel for someone and they don’t even bother to check the details. What’s worse was that my boss took the manager’s side. I had done my job as requested. I didn’t make any mistakes. No one had informed me of this manager’s preference to stay at a certain hotel. If it was so important, I should have been told of it when briefed on the task. Yet I was being held responsible for the mistake. I still fail to understand why he couldn’t have taken a quick glance at the booking details.

It opened my eyes a bit to the disrespect lower-level employees get. Many times, the brunt of managers’ anger is felt by lower-level staff, even when it has nothing to do with them. It’s very unfair. These employees are doing their jobs, which is often a thankless task; I sometimes think upper-level management lose touch and forget how much effort and work is required at entry levels. In meetings I felt like I had a lot to offer but over time I developed a sense of inferiority to managers, and I kept quiet and didn’t say much. It was disrespect like this that eventually made me want to quit.

May 26, 2022 3:46 am

Responses on this post remind me how ‘lucky’ we are to have #FirstWorldProblems and the significant power balance that exists the world over. When I traveled to Dubai, I was impressed at how the city had transformed from desert to a gleaming, luxurious metropolis in the span of 2 decades. The lasting impression, unfortunately, wasn’t a good one.

The heat in Dubai can be punishing. Forget about walking. Fans and AC are life savers. That’s why I was so moved when I saw some construction sites. I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant and I recall how uncomfortable it felt in the heat. Then to see construction workers / labourers under the punishing sun. It was hard to see. I remarked to a friend how difficult it would be to work a physical job, wearing their uniforms / layers in such brutal temperatures. The worst part is the pittance they are paid.

Laborers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal work in unimaginable conditions so Westerners can enjoy the luxury of swimming pools, high rise buildings and luxury hotels. Under the gleaming facade of Dubai is the blood, sweat, tears and desperation of migrant workers. The are paid pennies while suits in comfortable, shiny, air-conditioned offices sign papers and are paid much, much more. I don’t blame people for being rich. This is a remark on the system, which abuses the desperation of people who need to earn a living. These same people don’t always have the luxury of quitting.

Dubai construction.jpg
Ernest Vicente
May 27, 2022 5:36 am

What about putting up with the bullsh*t? How is that not there? The hierarchies in the corporate world and the sycophancy that accompanies it is tolerable for a certain personality type. Either you’re one of them or you’ll crack soon enough. My decision to move to freelancing was a good move for ME. If you can tolerate the BS, and it doesn’t look like there are many by the great numbers of people quitting their jobs, then stay in your job by all means.

Looking back, one moment that probably turned me away from corporate life was during a meeting. Our CEO was giving a presentation and he put forward a really dumb idea. We’d recently held an industry-wide conference and the CEO suggested uploading the slides of each plenary session onto this collaboration platform that no one uses. It was really out of touch. I sat in this meeting of staff who had volunteered for the conference. 2 people sitting next to me gasped out loud as if the idea was heaven-sent. It was so cringeworthy and pathetic. Would they have put on this sycophantic act if someone on their own level had suggested it? Unlikely. What did they actually hope to gain from being suck-ups? Did they really think the CEO would remember these 2 boot-lickers and would somehow reward them for their feigned adulation?

During that same meeting I gave some feedback that the volunteers of this conference came across as mindless and we could have done more to promote our company. Our tasks were routine, handing out literature and not much else. We weren’t even briefed to answer basic questions and had to direct people either to the literature we were giving or our website. As volunteers I felt we could have done more to promote our brand at the conference. One of the sycophants piped up, “I didn’t feel like that”, referring to my mindless comment. I wanted to reply, “Of course you didn’t feel like that when the CEO is here in the room.” Missed opportunity for an epic burn.

Now consider how I felt. Frustrated is an understatement. I was embarrassed at how spineless people can be in the face of corporate hierarch. Now imagine having to feel this every day. As I said, how is no longer putting up with bullsh*t not on the Pew Research list?