Dispelling the "Don't Be a Quitter" Culture

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

One of the most dangerous things we as a society can say to someone struggling in their work is, “Don’t Be a Quitter.” Here in the United States, we have a go-go-go mentality where rest is a weakness, and we should all “Just Do It.” But how can we push forward and work through it and keep going when our workplaces are fundamentally broken? Why do we say “grin and bear it” and “keep calm and carry on” instead of pausing to fix the culture, examine the fit, or evaluate our role?

We are currently undergoing a “Great Resignation” in the U.S. as unhappy employees leave in droves. There are several reasons for this mass exodus, including overdue attrition that would have naturally happened over the past year, but people clung to job security during the pandemic. Employers demanding that work from home (WFH) employees now return to the office even though they’ve been working from home just fine is another primary reason for many resignations. Outdated minimum wage laws and service-industry frustration also contribute to this number. As I’ve researched and collected anecdotal evidence over the past few months, it’s evident that there is also a significant shift in the mindset of many workers. Workers ask themselves why they have contributed so much but received so little from their employers regarding respect, trust, training, salary, promotions, benefits, and other compensation for a job well done.

If a friend or family member comes to you for job advice, don’t tell them, “Don’t Be a Quitter.” This lousy advice adds guilt to an already tough decision to leave an organization. Likely, they have already tried, tried, and tried again to make the situation work. Please show your support for them by helping them find a new job situation that is a better fit. Listen to and empathize with them; we’ve all had an untenable workplace at one time or another. Most of all, let them know how strong they are for taking charge of their career and making a move that is right for them. Workers rarely receive the pension, the gold watch, or the 30-year plaque anymore, so advice not to quit is not helpful and could be quite psychologically damaging.