7 Biggest Reasons Americans Regret Quitting Their Last Job

No matter how much you hate your current job, don’t quit until you’ve read through this list.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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In the wake of the so-called Great Resignation — with millions of workers quitting their jobs and finding something new — many American employees are doing better than ever.

But a recent Joblist report found that one in four employees who quit their jobs this year have regrets about leaving.

If you are looking to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck and are seriously considering leaving your job, read these warnings from Americans who regret quitting. Following are the top sources of their regret.

They didn’t have another job lined up

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According to Joblist, the top reason Americans regret quitting their job is how hard it’s been for them to find a new one. A full 40% of workers cited this reason.

It’s often a bad idea to quit without having a second job lined up, even in this time when jobs seem plentiful. Every big-box store, mom-and-pop shop, and corner restaurant seems to be hiring, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will find the job of your dreams.

They miss their former co-workers

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Work isn’t just about money. In fact, 70% of all American employees say that having friends at work is the most important factor in their job satisfaction, according to a recent Future Workplace/Virgin Pulse study.

It makes sense, then, that 22% of Americans who quit last year told Joblist that missing their co-workers was the main reason they regret leaving their job.

The grass wasn’t actually greener on the other side

dusanpetkovic1/Adobe girl looking through window while sitting in public transportation

Hindsight is 20/20, and though many workers who quit did find a more satisfying career once they left their old job behind, a big percentage didn’t.

Of those who regret quitting, 16% say they didn’t realize how good they had it at their old job until it was too late, Joblist says. And of all Americans who quit, 42% say their new job didn’t match their expectations.

Their new company is poorly managed or has a toxic work culture

Elnur/Adobe angry boss shouting at his employee

Poor management or a negative culture at their new workplace is the main reason for the regret of 9% of people who quit, according to Joblist.

The importance of company culture on job retention can’t be overstated: 62% of workers say their primary motivator for leaving a job is its toxic culture, according to a FlexJob survey. And 56% say bad management is one of their top reasons for quitting.

As many Americans learned over the last year, though, just because their old company had a toxic work culture doesn’t mean their new company is any better.

They didn’t fully understand their new job before they took it

plumber274/Adobe roles and responsibilities with wooden pen

When you’re desperate to escape a terrible work situation, it’s easy to jump at the first offer you get to leave. 

However, according to a Harris Poll survey by USA Today, 30% of people who switched jobs in the last year were disappointed that their new job wasn’t what they were promised. That number is a useful reminder that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

No matter how desperate you feel at your current job, make sure you weigh all the pros and cons of your potential new workplace before accepting an offer. Otherwise, you might end up regretting it.

They can’t maintain the same work-life balance

Lana/Adobe office at home with IT equipment and online communications

Some people can transition smoothly from a full-time job at the office to a remote freelance position. Others can’t.

If you have a hard time setting boundaries, sticking to a schedule, and meeting deadlines, quitting your job for self-directed freelance work might simply mean you feel like you’re working all the time — even if you’re not getting anything done.

Before you leave a job, ask yourself if you’re ready to adapt to a work environment with a different pace. If you aren’t, think twice before becoming one of the 36% of people who told the Harris Poll that they regret having lost their work-life balance when they changed jobs.

Higher pay wasn’t worth it

Alex/Adobe money background from dollars

As we mentioned above, money isn’t everything in life. In the Joblist survey, 3% of workers admitted that they regretted moving to their new job because the higher pay simply wasn’t worth it.

Pro tip: Before leaving a job you like simply for more money, explore ways to cut back on your spending and take other steps to reduce the financial stress in your life. With any luck, you will be able to stay in that modestly paid job you love.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe male freelancer sitting at desk at home

Angrily quitting a miserable job feels great at the moment. Afterward, though — like the month you have to figure out how to pay rent without a job — regrets may set in.

If you’re committed to quitting, make sure you understand the consequences, including any potential regrets you might end up having about leaving.

Perhaps it makes more sense to stay at your job for a while and explore additional ways of making income before making the leap to a new job or career.

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Author Details

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.