At the end of the year, companies tend to see a rise in resignations. Annual bonuses are close to being paid out and employees are looking to get a fresh start in the new year. Resignations can bring feelings of anxiety and they can also bring feelings of great relief and happiness, depending on the situation. They are also filled with expectations, some realistic, and most unrealistic and sometimes downright unfulfilling. If you are looking to put in your notice sometime soon, I’m here to set some expectations for you on how this will likely play out at your organization. The following are 5 things to consider when resigning.
1. Always give a 2-week notice
I don’t care if your new employer wants you to start right away. They’ve waited this long to find you, they can wait a little longer. There is no law that says you have to give a 2-week notice, unless you have a special employee agreement or contract, but it’s common courtesy. Plan to use this 2 weeks to make necessary transitions, ensure there is continuity in your role, and take advantage of as many parties and happy hours you can. If your employer asks you to leave right away, you now have 2 weeks of time off that you weren’t expecting. Take advantage of it as you may not have time in the new job.
2. Never expect your employer to honor the 2-week notice
I’m sure there are some exceptions, but most US states do not require an employer to honor a notice. Some see it as a common courtesy, but many view these as a business decision. The size of the organization, the type of business you’re in, and the role you play may all factor into an organization’s decision to honor it. The best plan is to not expect it. If you are relying on the final two weeks of pay, you may want to look at other options, just in case.
3. Don’t expect lavish parties
You are leaving the company. As harsh as this sounds, the second you resign, your employer has already moved on. They are thinking about your replacement and how they will account for your work. Your co-workers are jockeying for your role and have reached out to your manager for a shot at your job. And depending on your role and nature of your work, they may ask you to leave immediately and shut down all of your access before you even hit the parking lot.
While you think you are irreplaceable, you aren’t. According to John P. Hudson and Associates, an employee resigns every 1.5 minutes. ESPN’s president just resigned and his replacement was announced right away. We will still be watching bowl games and NBA basketball regardless of his resignation. While you have contributed a lot to your organization, most will continue to operate long after you’re gone.
4. Be aware of your company’s policies on benefits coverages
Do a little homework before you resign. Will you health benefits end when you resign or do they go through the end of the month? When will your benefits start at your new employer? What are the options for your 401k? What about your FSA or HSA? When can you expect your last paycheck? Does your PTO (paid time off) pay out or were you on one of those fancy “unlimited PTO” policies? (If so, you now understand why organizations go to this type of PTO plan. Payouts can be expensive.) What about year-end bonuses?
All of these questions can most likely be found on your company’s intranet page. If not, and you have a cool HR person like me, ask your HR person. Sure, they may pepper you with all sorts of stay interview questions, but it’s better to have your ducks in a row and not be surprised by some quirky rule.
5. Take the high road
If you have an exit interview, offer some feedback that’s constructive and useful. And offer this feedback to your manager, first. Offer the same story to your manager or department head as you would to your trusty HR business partner. Don’t walk in with a can of metaphorical gasoline and a book of matches and prepare to light that bridge on fire.
Hopefully, before you’ve made the decision to leave, you have been offering your feedback and trying to figure out a way to make your situation better. Surely, you’ve explored every avenue to carve a path toward growth and development and have exhausted every possibility. Consider your experience and offer it in a thoughtful, constructive way. While it may feel good to let your now former organization have it, the world is a small place. Your feedback will be received in a more positive manner if you approach it with good intent.
Making the decision to leave an organization can be tough. You may love the people you work with and the culture, but sometimes you have to make a decision to grow your skills at a rate that your company cannot offer. Or this decision is an easy one because you’re in such a miserable situation and you can’t get out fast enough. Either way, be thoughtful in your resignation approach.
Now, if you think HR only has the company’s interest at heart, tomorrow I will explain how organizations should handle an employee’s resignation. Stay tuned!