Work is a vital part of life. In order to afford anything, people need to have a job. It that's the case, might as well get a likable job right? Something fun, enjoyable, and pays well. Then it appears, a job that seems to fit the bill. Unfortunately, not every job is a dream come true, no matter what they advertise. These people share why they left a job that had an "amazing" culture. All stories have been edited for clarity.
Why Even Have It Then
“A neighboring building had an entire area devoted to foosball, pinball, billiards, console gaming, and video-ke booths on the ground floor and it was clearly visible because of the glass windows on street level. Oddly enough, nobody ever used them and the place was almost always empty save for a few people who use the internet kiosks.
When I learned a friend worked there, I asked why nobody would want to take the opportunity to use the awesome-looking recreational facility. He told me that people who do use the facility often found it used against them during performance evaluations, even when their use wasn’t excessive at all. After a while, word got around and they started avoiding the place altogether.
The irony is that their recruitment ads always touts a culture of ‘work hard, play hard.'”
“We (the management team) spent months working with a business coach trying to collectively come up with meaningful core values.
We devoted a ton of time to it and really tried to decide which direction we wanted to take the company culture.
Everybody agreed on teamwork, reliability, a couple others that I can’t remember now, and then one day the owner came in and called a meeting.
He sat us down in the boardroom and told us he spent all weekend brainstorming and had decided on the core values.
They were: Meaningful Ownership Neighborhood Engagement You
Does anybody see what that spells? He literally wanted it to be money and just came up with words that sort of worked the way you do in elementary school writing your name poem.
He rebranded the entire company from t shirts with giant first letters and smaller letters for the rest of the word straight down the arms, to plagues, wraps on the cars, every dang thing.
And that’s when we all knew it was going to get bad.
Money is great, but it was mortifying walking/driving around with that plastered everywhere.”
“The company has this acronym, CITE, that represents the culture they like to brag about.
Caring, Innovation, Trust and Excellence!
All four were actively discouraged and ignored, but they enjoy the circle wank pretense of it.
Our Director of Marketing actually exemplified those values – the only director of the four in our small division, plus the GM – who was actually smart, deeply respected, and worked harder than any of those guys combined.
Also the most calm and rational person I ever met in my life. Nothing shook this woman. She was just cool.
One year, sales sucked really bad and our leadership team knew our GM and Director of Sales were in trouble. So they sent this woman on a grueling travel schedule working back to back trade shows. It gave them ample time to put together the paperwork to suddenly fire her without any warning.
She returned on a Sunday and that very day received an email from the GM inviting her to her ‘year end review’ at 7 the following morning.
She knew what was coming and got there earlier to pack up her office.
When the GM told her that her position had been eliminated for ‘The Budget,’ all she said was, ‘Steve? You really put the C in caring.’
Mic drop, walked out the door.
It was the most awesome murder with words exit from the last person you’d ever expect it from.
Her undeserved beheading hit the top of my list of reasons to leave.”
This Isn’t A Culture Change
“I worked for a hospital that was going through a ‘culture’ change. They brought in a management group to help them get in better financial shape and what was their first recommendation? Cut nursing staff and pay. Within 90 days, we lost 10% of our nurses. We were struggling to legally and safely take care of patients.
Meanwhile, the management team and the senior management went on a 2 week trip to the Caribbean all paid for by the hospital. Flights, food, rooms, etc….all of it. I came into work that next morning after discovering that and saw an email saying the 4 nursing jobs I needed filled were denied due to budget costs.
I pride myself in being levelheaded and rational when I’m angry or frustrated, but that was enough. I knew that cutting some of their benefits wasn’t going to save the hospital, but you lead by example. I never opened the email (as the info was in the subject line) and I called the local newspaper about 5 minutes later. I set up an interview with a journalist and told him to bring a big notebook.
I resigned after making sure that my staff had their vacations approved and their bonuses (if any) were locked in to be paid. I did everything possible to help my unit out and then I just sort of left. I left the key to my office with my resignation letter in HR. They called and offered to keep me and I told them it would cost 4 new nurses. I never heard back. Spoke with the reporter 2 or 3 times after that and told them everything. I told them exactly what the community was paying for on a daily basis. He dropped a small story that eventually grabbed some serious attention. I know from some former employees that a lot of people were forced out over that. A few had to stand in court for minor monetary charges and 1 was charged with embezzlement.
They were in serious trouble after that and eventually a bigger entity bought them up. Supposedly things are doing much better now and those that rode it out went through some serious hard times. I don’t know how or why they stayed. The funny part was that new culture program was never implemented. They paid a ton of money for it and never even opened the box.”
GREAT Office Culture
“If a company brags about how great their office culture is, RUN. They are over compensating. My psychotic middle aged boss tried to be the ‘young cool mom’ with things like office yoga, company field trips, great break room. That’s great and all but, she was very aggressive about being ‘cool.’ Yoga turned into mandatory yoga, which turned into a half an hour of unpaid time. Then she asked me to keep a tally of how many times staff members would attend yoga and would use it against them in performance reviews despite making it mandatory. She also had a super innovative ‘fun’ break room but would have me stopwatch and keep track of how much time people spent in there. Our company field trips were scheduled for weekends, completely unpaid, and her way of making her feel like she had friends. She even would schedule them on Christmas Eve and you didn’t want to be the employee who didn’t show up, trust me.
The same middle aged woman pulled me from my office to do her hair for staff pictures and then proceeded to inform me I wouldn’t be getting paid for the hour I spent doing her hair because it would be silly for me to get paid for doing hair.
The same middle aged woman who would send me across town to get her dog a sweater (not even kidding) in the middle of the work day and then berate me at the staff meeting for disappearing and ‘slacking off.’
I would cringe when new hires would come in and she would tell them about how much fun we have with group pictures plastered on the walls. I wanted to tell them to run far, far away.”
Best Of The Best?
“I work for a law enforcement agency that prides itself on being world-class, the elite, the best of the best.
My first week, a coworker took me to lunch and explained to me how to get with the program – how much overtime you can get away with claiming over what you’ve actually worked (4 extra hours per day – more than that and people get suspicious!), that other law enforcement agencies will ‘respect the blue wall’ by getting our employees out of tickets and looking the other way for minor infractions, the whole deal.
Then he bragged about how well he’d gamed the system, showing me credentials he’d gotten himself issued for a higher-level position he didn’t have (and would never show within the agency), but loved flashing to the public and cops. He went on to explain how only idiots paid taxes, listing off all the deductions he was able to pile on, including the lunch he was buying me and his son’s dog, which he was especially proud of because he’d managed to forge paperwork claiming it as a service animal for an expensive tax credit.
Cherry on top? This was the chaplain.
Honorable mention? The first time I tried talking to my boss about how a given policy applied and got the answer, ‘We don’t do that here – it’s Big Boy Rules!’ ‘Big Boy Rules’ means no rules, except ignore policy and do whatever the boss says to do. Except, of course, if something goes wrong, the punishment for not following policy falls entirely on you. Funny, that.
We’ve managed to keep it to only two suicides this year (so far). Blissfully, my last day is next Friday.”
I’m Not One Of “Your Girls”
“My boss (business owner) always told us that he thought of the office as one big family. He also referred to the female employees as ‘his girls.’
A new client was coming into the office. My boss called me into his office and told me he was going to give me the company credit card so I could take the potential new client out for dinner and drinks. He told me to sleep with him, we need this client if everyone wants to get paid. Nice added pressure. I said no and the next day quit.
A couple of months earlier, my boss had invited me over to his house for dinner with his family and a swim in his pool because he said he knew how hard I had been working. I was a little surprised that he finally noticed and thought it was kind that he wanted to do something nice for me. I get there and his wife and kids are gone, but there is a 25 year old guy in his pool. The son of a client who just got out of the Army. He told me he was trying to fix me up on a date because I needed to get out more. Like an idiot I believed him. It wasn’t until later that I realized that he was hoping I’d show more interest in the guy.
I found out later that he had asked all the female employees at one point to sleep with clients. The secretary actually did. She was a young, single mom and was worried she’d be fired if she said no. After I quit she told me she wish she had the option to quit. I didn’t realize what she was saying until we talked later.
At the time his daughter was around 4 years old. When I quit, I asked him how old would his daughter have to be before he asked her to sleep with clients. I thought he was going to hit me. I have a thousand stories about working at this place. The guy was an unethical idiot. A dangerous combination. But I learned a lot about how to not run a business from him. I’ve owned my own business for 30 years now. I’ve never asked an employee to sleep with clients. Or even go out for drinks.”
Sorry I Don’t Make 100K
“When attending a management retreat, and was pressured into buying charity raffle tickets I couldn’t afford. ($20)
The two people who won before me donated their winnings to the same charity they bought the raffle tickets from. They were middle management people who make $100k+. I made $32k, with a young daughter.
I won a drawing for $400.
I literally had nausea for two days trying to figure out how I was going to pay my bills after my job had just moved the goal posts on some sales performance bonuses I had coming my way, dropping it effectively from ~$1,000 to ~$200
Now I’m the rude guy who’s going to keep the money I won.
Guess I’m not a team player…
Bonus: this was 4 hours drive from home, had an overnight stay, and one of those middle management guys said we shouldn’t be paid for the drive to the retreat.
Eff you. I was on the clock from the time I left Friday until I got home Sunday. If you’re forcing me to be somewhere as part of my job, it’s all on the clock.
My district manager didn’t like that, but I was already looking for the door.”
“I was very quickly promoted to management after a series of great visits from our district manager. The company culture is of healthy living and continuous learning and well balanced life. A month after I take the title of General Manager in Training, I receive the worst district visit I have had ever, but not because my store was in bad shape. He sat me down and talked about my weight. Told me I was unhealthy and not living the company values. He proceeded to emotionally terrorize me for the next six months and sell me a $300/month starvation diet. Told me if I stopped the diet, he’d make sure I never work for this company again. I didn’t have the sense to call HR. I previously had so much respect for the man, and even though he made my existence miserable, I somehow thought he was trying to help me. They moved me to whatever store they needed a manager and never sent me to formal training. When they left me abandoned in another city’s bus station with no car or hotel at 11pm, with instruction to call him in three days, I quit and called a ride back home (more than a four hour drive away from where I was). Then I called HR, who offered me my job back a month later with no intentions of firing him. I denied their invitation. Now, he’s been fired, as apparently my leaving inspired others to report to HR. But honestly, how was he able to thrive in that position before that? So many members of higher management supported this guy…”
This Is Nonsense
“I was working for a student housing oriented property management company for about a year and everything was great, everyone got along and loved work. Then corporate decided to send us a new general manager. She always acted all sweet and friendly and was all about ‘teamwork makes the dream work!’ and all those other fake cliches you hear at college orientation, but she started making it very clear that things were going to go HER way and very quickly she had everyone in the office talking smack behind each other’s backs and stirring the pot with these little closed door meetings where she pretended to be your best friend.
One day we had a little Resident Appreciation Day planned, but after 30 minutes no one showed up so the Leasing Manager packed it up and went home (he was already there an hour past the end of his shift at this point). The next day, the GM got the Regional Manager on speaker phone and fired the Leasing Manager within earshot of the entire office for leaving early during an ‘event.’ The GM then took a 5 day ‘weekend.’ When she got back, 3 out of 7 employees had flat out quit and 2 (myself included) and given 2 weeks notice. She called both of us the night she got back to tell us not to bother coming back to work.”
“We’re So Diverse”
“The place I worked at last year blasted about how diverse hiring was their most important goal to enhance culture that year and for the next 10 until they reach parity. They boasted about how different cultural backgrounds, different orientations, genders, etc were of the utmost importance to them as an employer.
In reality, once I started working there, all they ever did was marginalize me, and make sure I felt like a quota hire. Not the best place to work. Would never recommend it. I wasn’t given interesting work because my team deemed that type of work too important for someone like me to accomplish, even though I was hired on by the company for my expertise and years of experience in such work.
The best part is, I was the most qualified person on my team to be doing any of that stuff. Yet, because I wasn’t their typical hire, despite all of HR’s ramblings about culture, I was benched from most of the high visibility, high impact projects and forced to do more menial tasks related to my job title.
I did, however, still get to take home a nice fat paycheck, but the boredom nearly fried all of my brain cells and my boss was an abusive guy so I left that job in quick succession.
I proceeded to find another job, at a different company, that truly practices what they preach which is something along the lines of ‘get stuff done, work when you want, make things better, make time for yourself so you can have a life outside of work’ – they give no cares about what you look like or who you are as long as you can be a functioning and contributing member of the organization. Now THAT is my kind of place. They didn’t have some stupid culture mantra. They just ACTUALLY have great culture. They spend their time doing the things that make culture great, instead of talking about it and pushing some HR campaign that nobody is behind because they didn’t bother doing the work of actually getting people to understand how diversity fosters better problem solving.”
I Should’ve Seen The Signs
“Unfortunately, the signs have been here since day one. My company has a strong reputation, and the position attracts many self starters/entrepreneurial types looking to carve their own path. Training was about the only positive aspect of joining, although I suspect it is identical to training offered by the competition.
WARNING SIGN #1: No instructions given on day one, literally a post-it pad and a pen in front of my computer. Had to ask my desk neighbor how to do everything. Didn’t meet a manager until probably a month or two in. Management has been a constant carousel of reorganization.
WARNING SIGN #2: The first-years already have a wash-out rate of over 90% and are compensated probably half what the regional competition offers. People accept this for the upside of the long term compensation. Only problem is I have met coworkers who have struggled here going on 10 years without that becoming a reality.
WARNING SIGN #3: For an organization of this size, it is flabbergasting how few resources are made available. Newbies are expected to supply their own leads, close business, handle all admin/back-office paperwork, as well as manage any clients that they do manage to bring in. 80+ hour weeks lead to an equivalent of minimum wage compensation.
WARNING SIGN #4: People are often in and out of the office (duh, client meetings) but management felt like this was being abused. They just incorporated policy that requires notification anytime an employee is off-site during business hours. It isn’t very fun being treated with less respect than a college student.
I quit soon after joining.”
“My girlfriend works for a Property Management company that is family owned, about $1B in revenue, and has a national presence in the US. They RAVE about their culture and how they take care of their employees. For example, they give people $1,000 a year across 2 Visa gift cards to buy work clothes and look sharp while showing off their properties to prospective renters.
My girlfriend finds a new position and promotion internally and was hired into it at the end of May. She gets a raise and prepares to start moving over to her new job at a different facility. While she’s getting ready for this, her current manager says he’s concerned about finding a replacement and being short-staffed. So her new manager makes a compromise with her old manager and she’s to split time between the two sites doing her old job and new job simultaneously. These sites are about 10 miles apart and some days they have her at both sites but don’t cover the cost of transportation.
After 3 weeks, she’s pretty run down from the back and forth and asks her new manager if they had any luck finding a replacement to which she is told ‘no.’ She asks if her new manager can work on a hard end date since this is open ended and her new manager tells her that they’ll look into it. A week later she goes back to the old job full time but is told that she’ll keep the raise in the mean time.
A month in and the company interviews 5 replacements but doesn’t like any of them. This was bad and disheartening. 2 months into this whole process, they tell my girlfriend they are taking away the raise. That was worse. She complains to her old manager about this and he reluctantly sets up a meeting with his management chain the next week. When this meeting rolls around, they tell her that the budget doesn’t support the position she was waiting for and it was being dissolved. They also wouldn’t be doing anything about the raise. As a consolation prize, they set up a meeting with the HR Director to discuss openings they may have that she could apply for but they won’t guarantee any position.”
YAY! Free Popcorn
“My last job was for a large cinema chain, the incentive of working there was free movies and great culture with the colleagues.
This seemed great on paper. There were 5 pillars of the company (a newish thing since they were bought out), one of them being ‘fun.’
Now I worked at one of the largest branches in the company, with 50-ish employees at the time. Every morning before we opened the doors, the managers made us huddle together like a football team and gave us our morning pep talk:
‘Alright guys listen up! Today is going to be great! We’ve got the new X movie and whoever sells the most of Y promotional item gets a free soda drink! Woo! Go go go, it’s going to be amazing, can you top this weeks record for best reviews? Who ever gets the most good reviews today gets a free popcorn! Woah!!’
Man…I hated it so much, no one cared but they preached this speech at the beginning of every shift change despite every single employee being completely deadpan. It was like a school care worker trying to get adults to play bricks and build the tallest tower. Also, what kind of reward is a free soda and popcorn?