The Importance of Giving Notice

by Sharlyn Lauby on June 13, 2010

I read an article recently dealing with the pros/cons of employees giving notice.  It’s an interesting read and you can check it out here.

Giving notice should be a two-way street.  Employees should give notice to the company so a transition plan can be put into place.  Companies also have the opportunity to “give notice” to employees – for example, sometimes when a person’s position is being eliminated a company will provide two-weeks’ pay in lieu of notice.

But when companies don’t treat employees with respect, they create a situation where employees don’t feel the need to give notice when they walk out the door.  No business wants to be put in a place where they’re scrambling to cover shifts or work assignments.  So it’s important to create an environment where giving notice is proper versus making those final days painful.

On the other hand, employees should remember what it feels like to be left in a lurch and not use giving notice as a way to “get back” at a manager.  Honestly, the only people you’re hurting are your co-workers and, ultimately, the customer.

Oh and for the record, any company that tells a candidate not to give proper notice to their current employer is scum.  I guarantee they expect employees to give them proper notice so asking a candidate to shaft another company, well it’s just wrong.

While I’m talking about giving notice, I want to emphasize the final part of the giving notice process – telling human resources.  I can’t tell you how many times in my career a manager waited until the moment they were walking an employee out to their car with the going-away-plant in hand that they stopped by HR to say it’s time to look for a new employee.

Um, hello?!  If the whole purpose of giving notice is to create a transition, then let human resources be a part of that transition as well.  Telling HR to start looking at the end of a notice period puts you behind schedule.  HR could have been looking for your next super star during the notice period.

The word on the street is turnover is starting to occur.  Make sure you have a reasonable and realistic resignation notice policy for your operation.  And always treat your employees in a way that will make them want to follow it.

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Rochelle June 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I’d like to add that how you give notice reflects your personal integrity. It honestly does not matter how the workplace treated you – you should give notice respectfully. If nothing else, wouldn’t you rather feel good about being to say that you have never left a former employer in the lurch? A perfect example is someone known to me who has quit 2 jobs (yes, I said 2) by emailing the direct supervisor on the Sunday night before they started a new job. Do you think that I would recommend him/her for any job? Nope.

Patti Nelson June 14, 2010 at 6:02 am

No matter how you feel about a company or the way you have been treated it is simply the right thing to do by giving a two week notice and during those final two weeks you are still getting paid so instead of just sitting back doing nothing continue to perform your duties and act in a professional manner.

Sharlyn Lauby June 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

@Rochelle – Agreed, giving notice says more about the employee than the employer. Thanks for commenting!

@Patti – Thanks for adding something about working out your notice. Depending upon your position, some companies don’t ask much of an employee during their notice. But if you are able to contribute, then you should do so.

Jim aka Evil Skippy June 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Great posting and great comments. I know that the HR Bartender would never pull such a stunt, but early in my career I was supervising an office crew at a large company. One Friday, The HR Manager called to ask if I was going to one of my employee’s farewell parties that afternoon. I had not known the employee was leaving – she just told HR and HR did not tell me. The HR Manager said that she assumed I knew and that she did not want to “interfere”. At least the employee in question was following Sharlyn’s advice and working in a diligent manner during the notice period!

Sharlyn Lauby June 15, 2010 at 6:53 am

Good point Jim. If we are going to ask managers to bring HR in the loop, then HR needs to bring managers in the loop as well.

Gertrude Akot June 21, 2012 at 1:43 am

hello,
I’d like to know how failure to give the correct notice period affects the outcome of one’s interview most especially if I’m a contract or temporary employee.
If I give a notice period of as soon as possible or immediately or even right now, what implication might it have on my interview?
Thanks

Sharlyn Lauby June 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

Hi Gertrude. Thanks for the question. If you’re currently a contract or temporary employee, you should still give whatever notice was agreed upon at the start of the engagement.

Now if none was discussed, then that’s a totally different situation – and you might want to have a conversation with the company to work out a plan. Again, the purpose of a notice period is still the same – to effectively transition the work. While the company might not be able to find a replacement in time, they should be able to create a plan to get the work done after you leave.

If you’re interviewing and the recruiter asks when you would be available, it’s perfectly acceptable to say “after I complete my notice with ABC Company, which is XX days or weeks”. A good recruiter shouldn’t hold that against you.

Let me add…sometimes employees are able to wrap up their notice early. For example, an employee gives notice while business is a little slow. The company says, “Once you finish this project, then you can call it your last day.” That does happen. And the employee can call their new company and offer to start earlier. Or take a few days off. It’s up to them. (Oh, and P.S. When companies do this, they typically pay an employee for their entire notice period. It’s just the right thing to do because the employee isn’t asking to work out less notice.)

Meli Mel January 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I have a question and comment… I have been at my job for almost 5 years. My relationship with my direct supervisor has been nothing but challenging. It has been a game of chess for me; trying to figure out her mood and doing a lot of CYA. She has a pretty bad reputation within the company. She has been caught in many many lies and has continuously tried to sabotage many of my coworkers including myself. Why is she still with the company? I’m honestly not sure. I, as well as many of my co-workers have complained about her. The reason I have survived for this long is because I have some awesome co-workers that make this place easier. However, in the past 3 months we have managed to lose 2 entire teams with no replacements. This has greatly affected the morale of our company making it even harder to work with my boss. I have been communicating with another company on a very promising job lead and needless to say, I fantasize on a daily basis about resigning. I honestly do not want to give my company a 2 weeks notice. I do not feel they deserve it. They do absolutely nothing for the employees so why should I do anything considerate for them. In this case, would it be ok to give a 1 week notice?

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