Americans are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate in nearly 20 years.
And, according to the U.K.’s HR Magazine, January is the most popular time of the year for quitting. Regardless of the reason, most of those who decide to make a career change share one thing in common: two weeks’ notice.
Depending on your work situation, you may view these two weeks as your chance to burn bridges and move on to bigger and better things. Or, if the job change is a positive one for everybody involved, it can be a pleasant end to a great story.
Whichever the case, the last two weeks at your job is an important time not only to prepare for your big change, but also to leave the right way.
Petal Bovell-Proffitt, a consultant with HR firm DISC Bodhi, encourages employees on their way out to support their company by tying up loose ends and delegating in-progress tasks to ensure a smooth transition.
“It’s easy to take the easy way out and sail through your last two weeks, however, your manager and team may still need you to be present and supportive,” she said.
In her opinion, “support” means meeting with your managers and helping them see what your role is in current projects and what needs to be done to make sure nothing falls through the cracks when you leave.
“Help your manager and team to understand your work projects, where you are in the process, and the next steps for completion. Create a cheat sheet to make life simple for the team. Identify all outstanding projects,” she said. “Help them locate essential documents and files by sharing where it is located, or even better, create a folder with all projects, files, and critical resources.”
Present a Transition Plan with Your Notice
The first step to supporting your employer on your way out is to provide a transition plan with your two weeks’ notice, said Laura Handrick, a career analyst at Fit Small Business.
“The best thing I’ve done and seen others do is to provide your employer with a transition plan at the same time as you give your two weeks’ notice,” Handrick told us. “What that means is that you give your employer a document that maps out all the activities you currently do, and then describes who those activities should likely transition to, and how you will prepare that person, or that job task for the transition.”
This will balance out the suddenness of your exit and will reflect well on you should a future employer want to contact your current one. It never hurts to be as professional and helpful as possible, no matter what the situation.
Focus on Maintaining Bridges, Not Burning Them
Philip Livingston, a digital marketing specialist at Condo Control Specialist, said the final two weeks at a job can be a relational strain. In his case, the final two weeks at the last job he left were uncomfortable.
“It was a bit awkward interacting with other employees leading up to my departure,” he said. “They made it seem like I was betraying them, or I was wrong for wanting to further my career.”
Your instinct might be to return their disdain or disapproval with your own salvos of frustration but, Livingston said, push through the weirdness for the sake of the good relationships you have among the awkward ones.
“Try your best to leave on a good note and resist the urges to not come into work or to be rude to your colleagues,” he said. “It was tough for me to say goodbye to everyone but, at the very least, I tried to stay in touch with those I considered friends.”
Be Prepared to Stop Working the Day You Give Your Notice
Most of us assume that our two weeks’ notice means that we’ll be at the company for two more weeks. After all, you’re giving your employer enough notice to find someone to replace you. However, that doesn’t mean there are things going on behind the scenes that would make it more beneficial for the employer to let you go the day of your resignation.
“Even if you map out your last two weeks’ activities in detail, don’t be surprised if your employer offers to pay your last two weeks and subsequently asks you to exit the office the very day you provide notice,” Handrick said.
If you’re a well-liked employee, there’s a good chance your bosses won’t want to upset your colleagues and they may ask that you keep the news private.
“It’s not about you per se, but they may not want the work environment disrupted as employees, sad to see you go, stream into your office in tears upon learning about your departure,” she said.