Why did a bright, 28-year-old employee with a degree from a top university and a ton of high-level computer experience bail on the company he really believed in? Employee X explains what drove him to resign.
My first day on the job, I was wide-eyed, enthusiastic and completely on board with the spirit of the company. Nevermind that I was getting paid about $20,000 below market rate with pretty pathetic benefits while working up to 60 hours a week in a high-stress work environment. I was part of a team that would create something revolutionary . . . right? And don't forget about those stock options--they'll make us rich.
These were the mantras executives regularly repeated to us, and they actually kept us going for a while. A few months later, however, that startup spirit started to trickle away.
The problems began when the owners hired a handful of new managers. Everything seemed to be working fine without them, but I guess the owners felt we were growing and needed another layer of management to guide us. The mood changed pretty quickly. We used to trust each other and never had to prove how hard we worked to anyone. All of a sudden, we were constantly being monitored. One night, a manager (from another department) asked why I was leaving work "early." It was 9 p.m. Soon, the two words entrepreneurs never want to hear started circulating around the office: low morale.
Eventually, I just got plain tired. We never got a break. It was one big project after the next with no downtime. We sometimes worked past midnight and on weekends. A few employees got so disgruntled that they actually filed a labor lawsuit. As for me, I went to my manager and asked for a $10,000 raise. He immediately agreed, but even then, I think we both realized it was too little, too late.
It became crystal clear that all those promises had been lies to keep us slaving away. After nearly two years on the job (which felt like five), I finally escaped from my startup nightmare. Three more employees quit the same week; I heard there has since been a mass exodus.
The company I'm at now is in the same industry but has been around for more than 10 years. Making the switch was a no-brainer. I get paid market rate, rarely work overtime (and when I do, I actually get paid for it) and have an employer who invests in me as an employee, via everything from extensive training to company barbecues and yacht cruises. In other words, we work hard, but we get rewarded for it. What would keep me here five years from now? If they let me telecommute at least a few times a week, I'd be more than happy to do whatever it takes to help my new employers succeed.
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