When we’re growing up, most of us are told that if we work hard it will pay off in the end and we’ll be rewarded handsomely.

Buuuuuut, as you probably know by now, life doesn’t always work that way…

Yes, it’s still important to work hard, but sometimes it can be discouraging when that work doesn’t amount to much…

People on AskReddit opened up about when they discovered hard work doesn’t always pay off.

1. Working the system.

“In the last 5 years, learned hard work HARDLY ever pays off…

It’s about working the system more than anything.

The catch is that I suck at working the system…”

2. Does not sound fun.

“Every single retail job I ever worked.

Working harder, faster, smarter than coworkers never got you a raise or promotion or recognition.

It just got you more tired.”

3. Not cool.

“When your boss rewards you with bits of their work and positions it as a “great learning opportunity”.

Yes, please let me do the b*tch work parts of your job while getting paid $45k less per year.

I guess that’s why they get paid so much – they’ve implemented creative strategies for ~cost savings~ and ~efficiencies~.”

4. Wasn’t good enough.

“When I was proficient at my work and the boss brought in her old husband to replace me.

I did the most amount of work on that particular task, the most anyone had ever done, but it wasn’t good enough to keep me employed.

I also did a great, determined job in the warehouse but because the boss liked keeping us as casuals and cutting costs wherever possible, and glaring at me, too, I realized that working hard wasn’t worth it.

So study hard and earn qualifications and become a worthy asset.”

5. Quit on the spot.

“Worked for a company for a few years in my early 20s.

Busted my *ss and was essentially doing a manager’s job for very little money (our manager left a while before and they just had me take on his duties). They employed a 40 year old guy to help in the warehouse doing basic stuff. They hired him on TWICE my salary.

I brought it up with the owner and asked for a pay rise, laid out why I deserved one and went about it in the right way. His response was no as I’m young. The other guy has a family and a house that’s why he’s getting paid more.

I could have lost my sh*t. Realised I needed to cut my losses.

I quit on the spot.”

6. My superstar.

“I was working retail overnight and I worked my *ss off (partly to keep from getting tired).

My living situation started falling apart and I had nowhere to go if I had to move, so I was very stressed. My “fun” boss who everyone loved came over to ask why I wasn’t working as hard as usual.

I told him I was possibly a week from being homeless, and he just kept smiling and repeating the phrase “You’re usually my superstar. I need you to be my superstar, buddy.”

My hard work wasn’t valued at all, this boss only cared that I’d been making him look good by accomplishing so much. No one at the store actually cared about me as a person.

I’ve told this story here before, but the truth is I never worked hard again. No matter how hard a job tried to pressure me that something absolutely had to be done, I never worked that hard for anyone ever again.”

7. Learned from Dad.

“I was probably 16.

When I realized we were dirt poor and watched my dad kill himself working 12 hours a day and coming home coughing up black snot.

Then when he got sick and went to the hospital due to his lungs his company let him go and then fought him on unemployment..”

8. School and work.

“Multiple times.

In School: Group projects. I always was one of the couple of people who would do their part and then I would have to make up for others not doing anything.


I worked my way up to being a shift manager at a gas station that basically allowed me to carry a key to the store and run the daily reports. I got no pay increase.

Now I am a software developer and I found out pretty quickly that if I stayed ahead of the “added features” curve, that I get no extra praise or recognition. Now, I do still stay ahead of the curve but I only send out required updates when it’s due.

Kind of annoying but it means I do less work in the day.”

9. Broken down.

“I’ve worked blue collar jobs my entire life.

It’s a good way to pay a mortgage and not much more. If by chance I ever find a way to retire, I’ll be too broken down physically to enjoy it.

There are two Moldovan guys where I work that would be billionaires if hard work made you rich.”

10. The way it goes.

“Today, when my dad told me about his boss that bought him self a brand new Mercedes GLE while he keeps cutting pay from all the workers in his factory.

Even though thanks to them he has record profits even in this Corona crisis.”

11. BK.

“My first job was a cashier at Burger King.

I worked my *ss off, I was 16/17, in high school working over 40 hours every week. Somehow my grades didn’t suffer but my health did. I regularly would only get maybe five hours of sleep a week to a max of 4 or 5 a night and that was very rare, usually only when I had a day off and most assignments caught up.

Got a couple raises, but it wasn’t worth what I was working. Many managers hated being the manager or even hated working, so they would give me their keys and say if I need anything, they would be outback smoking, having s*x in the bathroom, or outside on the phone, etc. Their whole shift. I became the manger without the pay.

Finally got tired of it and put my two weeks in, they said if I stayed I would be a manager. So I stayed. Waited a couple weeks, nothing. They hired a new dude straight on as a manager. Same deal, dude just gave me his keys and stayed in the office on his phone.

When I asked about being manager the GM said they couldn’t make me a manager because I’m needed in drive thru and they won’t be able to find a replacement. Ok, so give me a raise. No, we can’t afford that. Make me a manager. No, we like you where you are. Okay, finally put my two weeks in and left officially.

F*ck that place.”

12. No credit.

“After spending over a year researching and crossectioning samples, imaging them on powerful scopes, and measuring each sample at specific locations, proving my theory was valid and being told that the extra work time wouldn’t validate the changes in the process and the value attained.

They started using my idea within 6 months of my report being published. Guess who got no credit?

I gave up after that.”

13. Talk about bad luck.

“When I was younger my dad had 12 hour shifts too and was killing himself on the daily.

A hurricane came and took my entire house and all of our belongings, he got fired for not coming into work.

One of the kickers? His employer asked for the uniform back.”

Have you ever had any experiences where you realized that hard work didn’t really pay off?

If so, share your stories with us in the comments.

We’d love to hear from you!