Even in this challenging economy, some workers are quitting their jobs before they have another opportunity lined up at another firm.

Resume (Photo credit: Anatoly Vartanov, ThinkStock)

A recent Ernst & Young survey found the top five reasons given by workers who tell the boss "I quit" are:

  1. Minimal wage growth;
  2. A lack of advancement opportunity in the company;
  3. An increasing workload with no extra compensation;
  4. Excessive overtime hours;
  5. Not enough teamwork and work flexibility.

"The workplace is getting worse and worse all the time, work has always been hard but it used to be something you could take some pride and maybe some enjoyment in, but now everything's a sweat shop," said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of people who quit their jobs increased 17 percent over the past 12 months.

Maltby said unfair worker compensation has a lot to do with workers wanting to leave their jobs.

"Even though corporate profits are at record levels and CEO compensation is to the moon, everybody else is working like a dog just to keep their head above water and not getting anything for it," Maltby said.

In fact, Maltby said if you if you look at the average person's pay corrected for inflation over the last 10 or 20 years, it's actually been going down.

"The people at the top have more money than they know what to do with and the rest of us are working longer and longer hours for less and less money," he said.

And the notion that working hard will get you ahead - that reality is slipping for many workers today.

"That formula is gone," Maltby said. "Hard work doesn't get you anything anymore except maybe survival."

He pointed out if you have a high school diploma or even a college degree these days, you don't have a lot of opportunity to move up the ladder because you need an advanced education to get specialized training for high paying jobs.

Another problem is the lack of flexibility at the workplace.

"It's unfortunate that many employers won't even give their workers flexibility because both the husband and wife are usually working these days and some time flexibility is needed to attend to family matters," Maltby said. "A good employee needs a little time off to take care of the kids and the boss won't grant it, so the employee is out of a job, and the employer loses a good worker."

The bottom line, according to Maltby, is workers do have their limits.

"Employers have the idea they can make any rule they want to and somehow employees will always follow them, but there are limits to what people can do."