Is two weeks too much notice?
As the Great Reshuffle continues to scramble America's workforce, millions of employed workers are considering new employment opportunities. With so many workers leaving their current jobs, a growing number of employers are suddenly experiencing unprecedented worker shortages. In many cases, those shortages are occurring with little or no warning, as workers simply leave for new opportunities without providing the once-standard two weeks' notice.
If you are one of the millions of workers participating in the ongoing reshuffle, you may be wondering if you always need to give two weeks' notice when you quit your job. In this post, we will explore the answer to that question and examine the pros and cons of providing your employer with adequate notice of your impending departure.
No legal requirement to give two weeks' notice when you quit
Before we begin, it is important to note that there are usually no legal obligations that would require you to provide that standard two weeks' notice of resignation. There are no state or federal laws that require employees to provide any notice. All fifty U.S. states have at-will employment, which means that employers are free to fire for any legal reason and employees are free to quit without notice. That is true for all at-will employees who are not working under some form of employment contract.
Is the two weeks' notice a relic of another time?
Despite the absence of any legal requirements for providing notice, the practice has long been considered a standard courtesy in most industries. It used to be that most employees provided at least two weeks' notice of their intent to leave, so that their employers could have time to prepare for their exit without incurring unnecessary costs and strain to the business.
In recent years, however, that standard practice has fallen by the wayside. Part of that is due to the overall evolution of America's workplace, as workers now move from job to job much more frequently than their fathers and grandfathers used to do. Whatever the reason, one thing appears to be certain: the last five years have seen a consistent increase in the number of workers who leave jobs without providing advance notice.
The costs to companies and workers
On the surface, the idea of not providing notice might seem like a trivial matter. In the real world, however, ghosting an employer can impose serious costs on the business. According to some estimates, it can take more than a month for many employers to find a suitable replacement for a departing worker. That time can double or triple for companies that are trying to replace skilled or specialized workers. Worse, though, is the fact that replacing those workers can cost as much as a third of the worker's annual salary due to recruitment costs, lost productivity, and other factors.
Employees who ghost their employers by not providing notice can also incur unexpected costs. For example, they may deprive themselves of potential salary or benefit increases that their employer may have offered to retain them on staff. They may also lose out on important recommendations and references for future employment or even the opportunity to get rehired if they decide to return at some point in the future. Perhaps most important of all, leaving without notice could harm an employee's reputation in the industry.
Despite all of that, however, there is no hard and fast rule governing how you leave your job. There are valid arguments to be made for providing notice, and equally valid arguments against that advance warning. Ultimately, the decision can only be made after you have carefully weighed the pros and cons of your own situation.
Reasons why you should give two weeks' notice
If it is possible to provide notice, it may be advisable to do so. In fact, it is still recommended that employees provide at least some advance warning whenever possible, if only as a courtesy. Giving two week's notice--or more--is a recommended aspect of the most professional way to quit your job. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should consider providing notice:
The advance warning does afford your employer an opportunity to train someone to fulfill your duties until a replacement is found. This can help to limit the stress placed on the coworkers you are leaving behind.
Notice may help your employer reduce lost costs that your resignation may impose on the business.
Giving two weeks' notice can help to ensure that you and your employer part ways in a more amicable manner.
It is always helpful to avoid burning bridges behind you. You never know when you might need that employer's future job reference.
Your reputation may suffer if other companies hear that you are unreliable.
Reasons why you may not want to provide advance notice
There are many valid reasons why you may not want to provide an employer with the once-standard two weeks' notice. These reasons include:
The work environment has become hostile or a toxic workplace, and you have exhausted all attempts to remedy the problem.
Your workplace is unsafe.
Your employer has failed to provide you with your due compensation.
You have been sexually harassed.
Supervisors have instructed you to perform illegal or unethical acts.
The mental stress of the job has become unbearable, and the company has failed to help.
Personal issues that make it impossible for you to continue.
Your supervisor has a history of reacting negatively to other employees who provide notice.
Your employer may fire you on the spot. If that happens, you may not be owed any money for that two-week period, which could leave you without income until your new job begins.
If these apply to you, you can leave with no notice or a shorter one week notice period.
How to provide notice if you need to quit
In general, it is still advisable to provide notice whenever possible, even if you are only able to give a week's advance warning. If you do decide to provide your employer with notice that you are leaving, you will need to know how to do it properly. While you can choose to simply tell your supervisor in person, the most professional option is to submit a more formal resignation letter. One example of this type of two weeks' notice letter is provided below.
Example of a two weeks' notice letter
Dear Mr./Ms. [Supervisor Last Name],
This letter is my two weeks' notice of resignation from [Company Name]. My last day as [Job Title] for [Company Name] will be [Date two weeks from today].
I want you to know how appreciative I have been for the opportunity to be part of this company's great team. I will always be thankful for the time, attention, and resources the company has provided me as it helped me to continue to develop my talents and add value to this team.
Between now and my final day of employment, I will continue to endeavor to provide the highest level of work results for this company. I am also eager and ready to assist you in any way possible to prepare for my departure, including helping with any training needed to ensure that this transition goes as smoothly as possible. Please let me know what I can do to help in that process.
As you read through this sample two weeks' notice letter, take note of its most important features. It is specific about your intent to leave, without going into your reasons. It is also polite, professional, and appreciative. Finally, it states your desire to assist the company as it prepares to transition to your eventual replacement. If you incorporate these same features into your notice, you can increase the chances that you will part ways with your employer in the most amicable manner possible.
While more of today's employees are leaving jobs without providing any notice, there are still valid reasons why you should consider giving two weeks' notice when you quit. Ultimately, you alone can decide which option is the best choice for you.
If you think it's time to quit, it's time to get your resume in order. Start with a free resume critique to check if your resume is up to today's hiring standards.
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