Why I told my employees they should quit their job.


Every 6 months, I bring our entire organization together for lunch and a ‘state of the company’ talk. After recapping our performance compared to our goals, discussing new initiatives, celebrating some big wins, and giving out awards, I like to close with some type of motivation or inspiration. After all, a part of leadership is challenging those around you to be uncomfortable, try new things, and think deeper. I got their attention when I flipped to my PowerPoint slide entitled “Why You Should Quit Your Job”. I went on to play the short video which I’ve linked at the end of the article . In the next two paragraphs I will summarize the video, including my thoughts around its relevance and why I chose to play it for my team. 

The video starts by saying, “In case you didn’t know, one day you are going to die.” OK, this is getting off to a nice start. You have their attention at this point. You might be thinking, well this is a really nice thing to play for your team at a meeting that is supposed to be a positive celebration. Well, sometimes we have to be the toughest with the people we love the most. 

The basic premise of the video is that life flies by and most people, 85% in fact, do not enjoy their jobs. The video states that only 65% of people will live to the age of 80.  Most of us start working around the age of 20. So this means the overwhelming majority of people spend most of their lives unhappy with their jobs. How sad is that?! To make matters worse, for all those people just grinding it out, waiting for retirement…If you are one of the lucky ones that lives to be 65 and “enjoy” retirement, on average you only have 15 years left to live, and the majority of that could be riddled with your own bad health or caring for a loved one. 

OK, enough with the depressing stats. So what is the answer? Well, as the video describes, don’t live for the weekend. Don’t work a job you hate just to save for retirement. Don’t work a job just for the money or the status. Do something you love to do, with people you love to do it with. Simple. Right? 

So…I played this video for my entire company and when it was over, I told them, “If anyone in this room doesn’t love what they do, please come see myself or our HR manager anytime and we will help you find a place that you can be happy. Hopefully that’s an internal transfer, but if it is not, we will help you find a better fit outside of the company.”

I operate under the philosophy that no one should have to dread going to work every day, and frankly, I do not want those people in our organization no matter how much of a short term bind it puts us in. If they move on, that frees up room for new people that might love what they do. It is no mystery that people who love their work do better work. Those people are more motivated, creative, and just plain fun to be around. I do not want to work around people I don’t like, and I’m certain others don’t want to either. Hardly anyone would disagree with this, but most business owners are afraid to speak with this kind of rhetoric for the fear of losing people and the short term impacts it will have on production.  No amount of money is worth it to me to work around people who do not love what they do and believe in the Mission. I’m also shocked by the companies who are opposed to friends and family working together. We spend more time with the people at work than our own families at home. Why the hell wouldn’t you want to work with people you love and care about? The last time I checked, people who care for each other make betters teams (at anything). 

I also don’t want employees who are just here for the money. Let me be clear. I want everyone in our organization to make above average wages for their respective positions. In fact, I want them all to make more money than they ever dreamed of. Some of them already do! But, employees who are just here for the money, are the worst kind. No pay raise will ever be enough to satisfy their emptiness. They will always be looking over the fence for the greener grass. They will be negative. They won’t serve your customers with excellence, they will bring down those around them. It’s not worth it. You must have the courage to set them free. 

For the record, no one came to see me immediately after the talk, or even in the days thereafter to take me up on my offer, but I know it got their attention. I had members of my leadership team tell me they had direct reports come to them and say things such as, “Matthew’s really serious about that stuff isn’t he?” They assured them I was. I’m confident it has helped push a couple folks over the hump. When you have the courage to take bold steps, those employees who are on the bubble will be forced one direction or the other. They will either realize it is not a fit for them and find their way out, or they will think, “Wow, these guys mean business, I like where this is going.” Either way, it’s a good thing. 

I had the incredible fortune to grow up working alongside my Grandpa. He used to say, “Matthew, I’ve never worked a day in my life because I’ve always loved what I do.” That always stuck with me and as we’ve grown the company, I thought, “Wow! How incredible it would be if we could have an entire organization that felt that way!” 

Now, I recognize there is a component of loving your job that has to do with loving the company you do it for. We are certainly working hard at that, and that process never ends. But unfortunately, no matter how hard you work to make it a great place to work, there will always be folks that just don’t fit the culture, don’t love the work, or don’t believe in the Mission and Values. Other than the perfect pre-screening process which no one has, that part is out of our control. The only way I can ever achieve my Vision and have a company full of people that feel the way my Grandfather did, is to ensure we are constantly pruning the branches. This allows those who DO love what they do to be free from the negativity and gives them room to spread their wings and thrive.

None of this is bad for the bottom line either. Remember the earlier stat? 85% of people don’t enjoy their jobs. So, if we can agree that people who enjoy their work do better work, then it seems to me that our company, just by operating this way, is in the top 15% of our competition before we ever turn on the first machine in the morning. I’m no mathematician, but I like those odds. If we just do this part right, we can screw up a lot of other things and still keep winning. It should be easy to see how that kind of philosophy might equate to one of the fastest growing private companies in America. 

“Why you should quit your job”- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODOrUFgPLpA