Chapter 3 of one of the best advice books I've ever read, The Asshole Survival Guide, begins with Robert Sutton saying, "I believe in quitting" and that's what I did. I wasn't going to consider myself part of the Great Resignation because I quit last year, but Greg Iacurci at CNBC says 2022 was the "real year," so I'll take it.
After the above paragraph, I wrote more than 1000 words about a series of bad work experiences that led me to resigning, but it was too specific and seemed too ranty. No one had read the draft, but a wise person said I should not post it, so I'm not.
Instead, I want to reiterate what I said a while ago when I first read the book: know how to identify a toxic place and, I'll add now, Get Out!
My situation was a toxicity that I was tolerating, though I wasn't oblivious as I'd been in the past. Since I read that book, I've decided to never tolerate abuse and that approach has generally worked. But one way toxicity can be revealed is how an organization responds when a worker reports dysfunction. That's what Sutton's book explains. He says if people try to take action and nothing is achieved, then it's time to leave. Statements such as "that's how they are" or "they didn't mean it" or gaslighting the victim instead of taking action about the perpetrators are red flags.
So here's my advice: if you feel horrible and have been treated badly, bullied, abused, anything less than respected, make a plan to get another job and leave. There are many examples of bad behavior at the Ask a Manager blog.
Here's another reason to leave: if you're not paid fairly. If a company pays other people well but comes up with excuses to pay you thousands of dollars less than your predecessor and inexperienced coworkers, find a job that pays better and quit. (And expert Allison Green says it is totally legal to find out what other people make.) If an organization does not require workers to show up nor do much work for much better pay, yet expects you to do more for much less money, then find better pay elsewhere and leave. Even just looking for other work will make you feel better. But it is not normal or fair for people to get paid well for not doing much, while you have to meet standards for thousands of dollars less. Don't rationalize it. It's not right. You are worth more. You are worth your experience.
Which reminds me of another reason to leave: if a company chooses people based on their age or other superficial features, and you see them get ahead or better pay based on what they're perceived to be instead of what they can actually do, find a place that values human beings if you feel like you're being overlooked or not as appreciated as the favored ones. It doesn't matter what you say or do; if they reward someone based on looks, there is nothing wrong with perceiving that as unfair, and if you don't want to work in a place with such values, then find a better place.
Kim Parker and Juliana Menasce Horowitz reported: research for the Pew Center revealed "low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected at work are the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs" in 2021. Yup.
What really was the last straw for me was what The Asshole Survival Guide details. At that moment, I thought "I'm going to quit," but waited a while until I would not be quitting in anger and would be prepared with another plan. I kept thinking about Sutton's explanation of why quitting is better than staying in a toxic situation, and how in the past I had not quit and regretted it because enduring the situation had only harmed me. And I feel fantastic.
Setting boundaries is powerful. Once I put in my notice, I felt like I'd built a concrete booth around me that no one could penetrate. I was asked to stay longer, then asked to be on call to answer questions for no pay, which just reinforced my correct decision. No regrets! I had a great experience but it was time to move on, and I immediately worked in much better situations with fair pay and no abusive/backstabbing treatment. One company I work for even has a system for dealing with abusive coworkers; there are specific people we can contact, and there is no tolerance for behavior that is detailed in The Asshole Survival Guide.
So my advice to you is, again, to find a better situation and quit. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to reflect on what's important. Don't waste any more time suffering fools or giving your best to an organization that doesn't appreciate it. Go where you're wanted and don't look back!