Apogee Group LLC Blog

Trials and Tribulations of Business & Healthcare

Two weeks notice is no longer customary and reasonable

Posted by Taz • Feb 1, 2011 • Category: Human Resources

Apparently, the customary two-week notice period has become optional for most employees of the 20-something generation (Gen-Y'ers as they are called) when they wish to depart an organization. Now, I can't say that this is true of everyone, as hopefully there are some good conscientious counterexamples - but this is a blog that occasionally indulges in stereotypes.

There is something even more flabbergasting than not being given two weeks notice: should you choose not to accept the arbitrarily shorter period you are offered - you become the bad guy. Employers, be careful when you decide not to take the notice period given. This country is very pro-employee and there are websites that are out there where they can berate you "anonymously" in public and you really can't do anything about it.

I have come to learn that some positions are not a good fit for everyone. More importantly I have learned not to take resignations personally. Lives change, people change, interests change, companies change. At some point, it is time for everyone to move on. An employer has to accept that and take it graciously. This is especially hard in a small business where the owners instinctively associate who they are with what the business is. It is hard not to take a departure of an employee personally.

Perhaps part of the issue is that employees don't believe that the employer would prefer an open discussion to smooth the transition/recruitment process. While I can't speak for all managers - as there are some that let their egos get in the way and retaliate, the ones I know would prefer the open approach. It may help for employees to take a step back and understand how giving even the customary two weeks notice does not offer enough time to those who will be responsible for finding their replacement. In my experience, it takes at least 2 - 4 weeks to find someone - writing a posting, putting it up, interviewing candidates from anywhere to 2 - 3 rounds of interviews among all the other things that need to get accomplished. Then it takes another 2 - 4 weeks to train them. For any organization you need at minimum 4 - 8 weeks to find, train, and transition a new employee into an open position. The cost of replacing an employee is very high regardless of the reasons. Yes, sometimes the cost is justified if you have a disruptive employee, but the fact remains - the cost is still very high.

Employees who decide that an organization is no longer for them have every right to find something that is better suited to their passion. And I encourage them to do so, but starting a dialogue goes a long way towards reaching a desired outcome. (On a sidenote, I always find it ironic when an employee who is looking to leave - but has not divulged this information publicly - finds the posting of their open position on a career site like monster.com or craigslist and becomes "hurt" and claims the company to be "insensitive".) It is very difficult for me to understand the rationale behind an employee's thinking of "taking all the time they need to find a position" and then turning around and telling the employer with 24 hrs notice that they are leaving. Perhaps one day someone will tell me how that makes any sense.

I say all of the above from experience as an employee and employer. I have always provided 4 - 6 weeks to any employer, however, I have always started the dialogue well before then. The result, open communication and no burned bridges and in most cases the ability to find a position without feeling the pressure of 1) secrecy 2) no loss of income and 3) helping the company find the right person to fill my position. Employees who have treated me this way have experienced the same.

Employees should stop being short-sighted. Where you have worked will follow you the rest of your life - even it was for a few weeks. Between reference checks, background checks and other procedures, someone will at some point ask you about all the jobs you have ever had. Criticizing an ex-employer anonymously on a public website or social media or not leaving graciously will only cause you problems - maybe not tomorrow but definitely at some point.

As employers we need to make sure that we nurture a culture of open door policy and open communication....and an open door policy doesn't mean that you keep your door open (but that's a post for another day).

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