20 Employees Reveal the Real Reasons for Quitting Their Jobs
From bad bosses to hostile work environments, here's what made them hit the road.
At some point in your life, you will most likely find yourself at a job that you really just can't stand. And while many of us—for any number of reasons—have fantasized about impulsively calling it quits at an unfulfilling job, these 20 people actually did just that. Reading these captivating "I quit" stories might just be the push you need to make a similar change in your own life—or maybe it will help you realize that your job isn't nearly as bad as you thought.
"My manager told me she wanted us to have a 'mother-daughter' relationship."
When Marli Crowe quit her job at a marketing research firm, she was really quitting her manager. "My manager was what I like to call a 'momager,'" she said. "She told me verbatim that she wanted her and I to have a 'mother-daughter' relationship. I told her I don't need a mom, I need a manager."
Even after that exchange, Crowe's boss spoke to her like a parent would speak to their child. The bizarre dynamic created a hostile work environment that became the last straw. "I'm a true testament that people don't really quit jobs, they quit managers," she said. If her manager had been different, Crowe probably would have stayed—instead, she started her own company.
"My boss called me stupid."
Shortly after graduating, Brittany Gamble took a job at a local veterinary clinic while she looked for a job in her field of study. During her second week of work, at the request of clinic's veterinarian and owner, Gamble faxed a patient's file to another clinic that needed it. With the task completed correctly, she was surprised at what came next.
"The veterinarian came up to me and told me I was 'stupid' and that I 'didn't have common sense,'" she said. She had apparently sent too much information, the vet said. "After defending myself, saying I did have common sense, he proceeded to tell me that I didn't."
If that wasn't bad enough, other coworkers in the office joined in on the verbal abuse until Gamble couldn't take it anymore: "I walked out during my lunch break and never came back," she said. "Once the leader attacked me, I was an easy target for everyone else." She says nothing would have made her want to stay after enduring such harsh abuse.
"I was going to have to fire people I didn't think deserved it."
Jonathan Twill had been working for a media company for four years at the time he became head of his department. There had been layoffs prior to his promotion, but Twill was able to secure the jobs of the team he managed. However, when his new boss proposed yet another rash reorganization that would require him to fire certain members of his team, he drew the line.
"They wanted me to fire three people who I didn't think deserved to be let go," Twill said. "I tried to stand up for them, but my boss was adamant, and I simply couldn't have seen myself earning the trust of my team if I did that." So, he decided to resign—even without another job lined up.
"Of course, I wish it had been more premeditated," he said. "But I have no regrets. The only way I would've stayed is if they gave me more direction and trusted my decisions. But that was never going to happen, so it was clearly time to leave."
"If I have to drink the Kool-Aid to work someplace, then I'd just rather not."
Before becoming managing director at The Vision Board Planner, Ricci Fisher worked as a sales associate at an Apple store. However she found the tech giant to have an off-putting work culture. As one example, Fisher recalls an incident when Taylor Swift was the spokesperson of an Apple Music. A few fellow coworkers were heard saying that they weren't the biggest fans of Swift's music. The group was promptly pulled aside by management and told they were prohibited from voicing such opinions while the promotion was going on.
Then there was the pressure that came with working for such a high profile brand. "Several people I know quit due to the pressure that Apple puts on their employees," Fisher said. "I found myself in the bathroom crying my eyes out on multiple occasions due to stress." Eventually, she quit.
"I loved the people I worked with," she said. "But if I have to drink the Kool-Aid in order to work someplace, then I'd just rather not."
"As a contractor, I would not have received any back pay."
When Dee Burrell, a contractor at a government agency, began hearing rumors of a pending government shutdown in late 2018, she quit her job. "As a contractor, I would not have received any pay nor any back pay that full-time workers receive," she said. "I polished my résumé, sent my interviewing suit to the cleaners, and began applying to new jobs."
The decision worked out in her favor, and taught her an important lesson. "I was hired on the spot at my first interview afterward," she said. "One of the most important things I learned from this whole shutdown situation was to pay myself first. That means with my very next check, I will start adding to an emergency savings account. If the government were a bit more stable, I would not have resigned."
"I absolutely loved the work, but I despised my boss."
At the beginning of his career, Phil La Duke worked for a company as a writer for hire. After a bit of research, he had come up with his own model to set a rate, and things were going smoothly—until his boss told him to lower his rate, or else. "I told him why I had priced my rate that way, and he said he didn't care and for me to shut up and lower my prices," he recalls. Refusing to give in to his boss' demands, La Duke went to the owner of the company. "When I started to tell him what my boss wanted me to do, he cut me off and told me I didn't have a choice but to listen to my boss."
The next day, he turned in his notice. "I looked the owner in the eye and said, 'I always have a choice,'" La Duke said. "Six months later, the company was out of business."
"I quit after five months because I realized I was unhappy."
Right out of college, Urszula Makowska became a social media manager for a bridal designer—quickly realizing she had made a mistake in accepting the job. Makowska says her boss constantly berated her entire staff, insisting they live up to impossible standards.
"I quit after five months because I realized I was unhappy," she said. "She would often talk about my fellow employees negatively to me. It was not a workplace I wanted to be in so I left. If she were a different person and was flexible with me, I would have stayed."
"He would come down to work at his computer hungover and in his underwear."
As a teenager, Amber Rose Thomas got her dream job working as a blogger for a small design company. It sounded wonderful, until she realized she'd be working out of her boss' home. out of his private home.
"The team was really small," Thomas said. "We were three young women, and he would come down to work at his computer hungover and in his underwear."
And that wasn't all. "I was the last employee to quit out of the original team, and the final straw was when I was evicted from a company networking event which we were hosting because he perceived me to be too overweight and 'damaging the brand,'" she said. "Had there been a remote working opportunity or a middle manager as a buffer, I would have considered staying."
"The current leadership was more interested in creating a boys' club than getting work done."
T.L. Robinson, founder and owner of MASS EDEN, got her first job at a company in the finance industry straight out of graduate school, but was faced with the challenge of navigating a toxic work environment that was hostile to women as a result. "I had to find clever ways, such as always having a third party present, to deal with the issue," she said.
Over time though, however, Robinson found that the company culture was taking a serious toll on her physical and emotional health. "I had to ask myself: 'What value is this job providing?'" she said. "Every time I asked myself the question, I couldn't come up with a good answer. I knew that I had value and brought a lot of skills to the table, but the current leadership was more interested in creating a boys' club than getting work done."
Robinson called it quits on a Friday and has never looked back. "I was honest in my exit interview about why I was leaving," she said. "The decision, to be honest, was not entirely about me. I later learned that my honesty brought about some necessary changes in the culture."
"I was in a very small department and there was really nowhere for me to go."
When things became too stagnant at the company he used to work for, Marc Andre—who would go on to create Vital Dollar—decided t0 make a change, quitting his job to start something of his own. "I would have stayed in my job, at least a while longer, if I had the potential for growth and career advancement, but I was in a very small department—just me and my boss—and there was really nowhere for me to go," he said.
Andre's choice to create his own opportunities turned out to be the best thing he could have done for himself. "The frustration led me to start my own business part-time," he said. "When it got big enough, I quit my job. I've now been self-employed for more than 10 years with no regrets."
"My employer didn't want me studying part-time.'"
When she was still in school, Jazmin Gaither, now a licensed massage therapist at Peace and Harmony, found out that her employer at the time took issue with the idea of her juggling her studies and her job at the same time.
"I worked for a well-known large massage company," she said. "The owner of my franchise was so selfish to the point that he said, 'Why did you have to pick this schedule for school?' He then decided to put me on a suspension until my school schedule changed."
Gaither was furious. "I bent over backward for my clients and for the company, and I deserved to be able to further my education without fear of losing my financial stability in the process," she said.
"The owner was incredibly disrespectful and greedy."
According to an SEO strategist that wished to remain anonymous, his former boss had no problem telling anyone within earshot about his wealth, while also damaging key client relationships. And eventually, it all became too much.
"The owner would talk loudly—and proudly—to upper management about the brand new Mercedes or brand new house in the 'burbs he just bought while we were barely making living wages for a major city," the strategist said. "He would constantly oversell and overcharge clients on the services we provided, which ended up significantly impacting our client retention capabilities, thus causing him to need to fire many of our employees. After three years, I was glad to get out of there," he said. Had that one manager have been a different person, the strategist says he might have stayed.
"I would have stayed if I hadn't been micromanaged."
Wanda Esken quit her job at a newspaper, citing mental health issues that, she says, were caused by an abusive manager as her reason for leaving.
"Throughout my time as a manager at this company, the owner treated his small team of employees so poorly," Esken said. "On numerous occasions, I watched him stand over the chairs of my employees and tell them exactly what to say in their daily email correspondence—down to the grammar, even." Eventually, enough was enough, and Esken quit. "At the end of it all, I would have stayed if I had been micromanaged less," she said.
"When I asked for a raise, I was basically told they couldn't offer one."
For Ian Wright, it was all about not being fairly compensated for the hard work he was doing. Working for a company where he was expected to "increase revenue," Wright and his team did exactly that—eight different times in two years as a matter of fact.
"However, when I asked for a raise, I was basically told they couldn't offer one," Wright recalls. "The real kick in the teeth was when they sold part of the company a year later, and I realized what I had created was worth $20 million. I hadn't seen anything close to that compensation. I vowed from that day forward to always be in charge of my own destiny." That's when Wright quit and went on to start his own company, British Business Energy.
"There was a general culture of disrespect and lack of appreciation."
Before becoming lead project engineer at Tacuna Systems, Joe Flanagan had quit his previous job for the "sole reason of a toxic workplace culture."
"The pay was good and the hours flexible," he said. "However, there was a general culture of disrespect and lack of appreciation right from the management down to the employees."
Over time Flanagan had realized that not only was the culture affecting his productivity and mental well-being, his fellow employees who had also claimed to dislike this culture were now upholding it. "I realized that my mental health and happiness were far more important, so I quit," he said.
"A lot of my food was being stolen from the fridge."
During his apprentice days, Mike Falahee—now owner of Marygrove Awnings—worked only three months at a company before he realized that a lot of the food he brought for lunch kept disappearing from the shared fridge. The final straw that lead to his departure? A stolen lasagna he had made for the entire office.
"I stormed into my boss' office to say something more needs to be done about this ASAP, and there it is on his desk in all its glory, my half eaten lasagna," Falahee said. "I quit, there and then."
"I was transferred without any discussion or warning."
Brion Clark, founder of Career Sidekick, quit his old job abruptly when they transferred him to a new role without even discussing it with him first.
"They didn't do a good job of communicating about this, warning me, or asking how I felt about this, so I began job searching immediately after the change-over, and left as soon as possible," he said.
And while the company was "frustrated and caught off-guard" when Clark gave his two-weeks notice, he says they could've avoided the entire situation if they had handled it better and viewed him as more than just a "resource to allocate."
"We didn't start until 10 a.m. and they would always be late."
One Reddit user left her job after she made the judgement that many people in her company weren't acting responsibly. "I was interning at a human rights non-profit," she said. "I was so happy to be there. However, the people in my specific office were awful. We didn't start until 10 a.m. and they would always manage to be late, and I didn't have a key to the office."
She often had to arrive an hour early due to train schedules and didn't mind waiting until 10, but some days people wouldn't start showing up until 11 or even noon.
"Did they ever notify me when they were going to be late? No. Did I ask them to? Yes," she added. "On my last day, it hit 11 a.m. and I asked when someone would be there. They said 11:30 a.m. It hit noon, and I just left the items I had with me of theirs outside the door and walked away. I sent an email to them saying I can't deal with this anymore, and they never responded back."
"I didn't like the corporate culture."
When one Reddit user started his job at a local video game store, he valued the sense of camaraderie and community he shared with his coworkers and customers. "We were 100 percent off-brand, but we also did really well as a store," he said. "Unfortunately, we weren't doing it the way [the company wanted us to]," he wrote.
When a new regional manager changed the culture completely and the work environment became more sterile and far less fun, he knew wouldn't be able to last.
"All I cared about was that the job I loved, the place I loved, and the people I loved, were being completely tossed aside," he said. "I wrote 'Quit' on the day's to-do list, drove to another nearby location to drop off my keys with one of the other managers, and I never looked back."
"I just couldn't take a nine-to-five job anymore."
For Hilary Bird, it wasn't about a bad boss or a hostile work environment. She just knew it wasn't the job for her.
"Even though it provided a stable income and decent benefits, my heart wasn't in it–and it eventually started showing through my attitude," Bird said. "I wasn't excited about new projects or even coming into work. It took me a while, but eventually I quit my job to make the leap to freelance work."
Bird says she now has a completely flexible work schedule, works remotely, and has never had "higher job satisfaction."
Additional reporting by Kali Coleman.