I quit my job. OR, what I prefer to say is I fired my boss. As it turns out, I'm not the only one. Hopefully, my story can impress upon managers, business owners, and leaders to understand what their employees need before it is too late. So...how did I get here?
Before we get to the juicy part, I want to share with you a little about my background.
Growing up, my parents were entrepreneurs. They owned many businesses and were quick to pivot with their growing family, demands, and economics. My sisters and I saw firsthand what it meant to own many different types of businesses. So much so, both sisters grew up to own their own businesses. So, it is easy to say that entrepreneurship was in my blood.
I started working when I was 16, like some high school students, to pay for my car, clothes, fun, and cellphone. My first two jobs were for self-employed partners or individuals who were trying their best to make a good place to work. I first worked for a 50's drive-in and mini golf course for the summer. And when the season was over, I started working for a local gas station and grocery market. The owner was wonderful and gave me a perfect preview into owning a small business.
Next, I started working in banking and spent about eight years working in banking. I never stayed in one department for longer than two years as I was always looking to improve myself. Later I accepted a position with a local family-owned concrete company.
In every position I held, there was a trend. No balance (for myself or for the owners/senior leadership). Although I left at the end of the day, trying my best to leave work at work, it never really happened that way. AND I saw my bosses or managers feeling the same way I did. This was a huge red flag.
Leading Up To Quitting (the juice)...
Toward the end before firing my boss, I had felt many frustrations. All of these could have been addressed if management was listening.
#1 - Unrealistic Expectations (No Balance)
I started to feel overworked and overwhelmed by the daily workload and expectations of availability. It was crushing my ability to be present outside of work. Where I spent most of my time thinking about work, stressed about work, wondering what catastrophe was waiting for me, and simply thinking of the next project. I worked from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm, Monday - Friday, and sometimes on holidays and weekends. It was too much to continue. Fact, 39% of U.S. workers left their job in 2021 because of working too many hours.
#2 - Values Did Not Align
Daily I found decisions being made did not reflect the values I held close and the values that the company said they aligned with. I was constantly being put in the middle of what my 'gut' said I should do and what the Company wanted me to do. That even went to the level in which I could present myself in my position. In fact, 35% of U.S. workers have left their job because their values did not align with the company they worked for.
#3 - Not Being Taken Seriously (Felt Disrespected at Work)
There are many instances in my previous position where I expressed my approach to a situation and had been laughed at or disregarded for some reason or another. This disrespect came from other members of management, owners, senior management, and some employees. It made it difficult to do my job when I did not feel supported and constantly felt like I was being undermined, gaslit, or manipulated. Fact, 57% of U.S. workers left their job in 2021 because they felt disrespected at work.
#4 - Not Being Able To Do My Job (Strained Relationship with Management)
For someone who prides themself on being accurate, articulate, and thorough, I did not appreciate being met with resistance when it came to carrying out my job duties. At this point in my career, I had three international certifications, an MBA, and a decade of experience. I was met with resistance almost frequently when it came to carrying out my job duties if it meant impacting business operations, temporarily. I found myself without the autonomy to do my job. AND I no longer trusted management. Which in turn made me feel like I couldn't turn to management with real problems and solutions. In fact, one in two employees has left a position to get away from a bad manager.
#5 - No Communication
Because of the many reasons above, especially #4, I found it nearly impossible to communicate with management. I received little feedback, and getting any direction or ideas from management was nearly impossible. It left me on an island with little ability to carry out again, my job functions. Fact, no communication in your workplace can result in actively disengaged employees. In 2021 U.S. reports show that 15% of employees are actively disengaged at work and report miserable work experiences and are generally poorly managed.
Reimagining Work-Life Balance
Or as I call it...life. For so long we have been focused on keeping work and life separate. After the pandemic, we have found the importance of integrating the two for a better life in general. Why do we need to keep these completely separate? Most U.S. workers are finding they don't need to keep these things separate.
U.S. workers are leaving the workforce to become freelancers and consultants. High-value employees, usually those with a graduate degree are choosing to leave the workforce and consult on their own. In 2021, the number of skilled remove freelancers increased from 50% to 53%. The key motivators are flexibility and freedom. 59 million Americans freelanced in 2021 - that's 35% of the U.S. workforce. Freelancers also tend to be more optimistic about their careers.
"If you feel 'burnout' setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhaused, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself." - Dalai Lama
Today, I'm living my best life. Of course, it isn't without challenges BUT it is full of happiness. I heard my calling, I embraced what I learned from others, and I was given the opportunity to get pushed toward my true passion. I strive every day to help companies keep their staff, happy, engaged, challenged, balanced, and retained. Although my story is like many, there are many U.S. workers who cannot do what I've done. And there are many business owners who represent what I have done. There is true magic in working for an employer who cares about their employees - truly care.
My life (work-life balance) is truly a fully integrated life. Where I don't need to be separate from my work and I don't need to be separate from my life. I balance my work hours/demand with what I need to be fundamentally happy. That means, making time for walks, gardening, cooking, reading, laughing, spending time with loved ones, and putting myself before my demanding work. That way I can show up and be present.
Retain. Retain. Retain.
So employers, listen up! We have covered retention many times in my blog posts. But it is worth repeating. You have full control to have an environment where employees want to stay with you indefinitely. The secrete...listen. Listen to your team. Listen to their needs, their wants, and their cries for help. Be better than the boss I fired.
To learn more about how to create a business with a true work-life balance and increase your retention, let's chat!