Quitting a Job: Is Two Weeks’ Notice Still Necessary?

Quitting a Job: Is Two Weeks’ Notice Still Necessary?

Since roughly the mid-20th century, the practice of an employee giving their employer two weeks’ notice before quitting a job has been customary. This courtesy provides the company a bit of a jump on finding a replacement and allows the departing person time to inform clients, update colleagues, put paperwork in order, and perform other actions that make for a smooth transition.

Workplace standards, however, change over time. Is two weeks’ notice still needed nowadays?

Here’s a look at why some workers no longer feel two weeks’ notice is necessary and what to consider if you do choose to leave without it.

Reasons People Leave without Notice

Some people still work under individual employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements. Both employers and employees legally are bound by the specific terms of such documents–including stated procedures involving dismissal or quitting–and repercussions occur when either side doesn’t live up to their end.

The majority of modern employer-employee work arrangements, however, are considered “at-will.” Basically, this set-up allows both sides a great deal of freedom to continue or discontinue the relationship as each sees fit. If a company wants to downsize, it can let go of workers with or without notice or reason (except for illegal reasons, such as on the basis of sexual orientation). Similarly, an employee who comes upon a better opportunity elsewhere can change jobs without a problem.

While at-will arrangements allow for abrupt dismissal or departure, the fallout still stings. Workers who have experienced sudden termination or have seen it happen to people they know often form the opinion that companies do whatever they please without notice, so employees should just do the same.

Other “justifications” people give for not providing two weeks’ notice include:

  • Getting back at management for poor treatment, low salary, or other grievances
  • Needing to start the new job right away
  • Feeling uncomfortable staying around after quitting
  • Lacking a sense of obligation to the company since job-hopping has become more common
  • Not worrying about a bad reference since employers tend to give neutral reviews rather than risk being sued for defamation

The Case for Giving Two Weeks’ Notice

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Experts caution to really think twice about quitting unexpectedly and the bridges that could burn.

“If you quit your job and you have not provided sufficient notice, your boss and colleagues may feel that you have either abandoned them or burdened them with having to take on your work. You let them down, and they are likely to react with anger, irritation, or disappointment,” says career coach Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.

“When you are looking for your next job or the job after that, which is inevitable nowadays, don’t be surprised if they diss you, don’t return your calls or emails, or ghost you. They owe you nothing. They will remember how you left them–not how hard you may have worked or how much you contributed to the success of the organization,” Cohen concludes.

Leaving on good terms keeps the door open to colleagues remaining in your network or a former boss providing a reference. At some companies, failure to give two weeks’ notice immediately disqualifies you from ever being hired by the business again–something to consider if you might want to work for a different branch or in a different capacity sometime down the line.

Making Your Decision

Sometimes, it might make sense to leave a job immediately. Such situations include being pressured to do something unethical, experiencing stress that jeopardizes your health, or dealing with a family crisis. Barring extenuating circumstances, though, giving two weeks’ notice is typically the safer bet for your career.

“In the grand scheme of things, two weeks’ notice is not a huge amount of time,” Cohen says. “Unless your company is going out of business or you expect to be fired without severance, leaving your colleagues with no support is bad–no matter how desperate you are to leave or how much you may hate your job.”

Feeling pressure from a new employer to forgo the notice? Cohen advises to consider that a warning.

“If the company that you’re about to join insists that you start immediately and they refuse to consider a reasonable start date, that’s a red flag. They will do to you exactly what they are asking you to do to your current employer–show no remorse if and when they fire you.”

The bottom line: while the ultimate choice is yours (and a quick exit might feel good in the moment), try to think long-term. Your reputation over time will precede you, so demonstrating professionalism now can pay off later.

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Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com

By Beth Braccio Hering | Categories: Remote Management

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