In Pursuit of Profit
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I have to assume you’ve probably read an article or two in recent months talking about “The Great Resignation.” It has even been sensationalized in places like the Antiwork forum on Reddit where people express their workplace frustrations. This reshuffling of the workforce reflects some 47 million people who quit their job in 2021. While quitting a job for better opportunities isn’t new, this kind of turnover is higher than anything seen in the last decade. The exact reasons are up for debate – an aging work force, early retirements to escape COVID-related issues or aided by stock market performance (prior to 2022), or younger workers searching for a better work/life balance. It is most likely a confluence of all of these. One thing is clear, Americans are reevaluating their jobs and, as a result, employers are finding quality talent harder to find, and more expensive when they do.
This isn’t exactly a new trend. data shows, with the exception of the pandemic layoffs, American workers have grown increasingly willing to quit their job to look for greener pastures, while employers are less likely than ever to lay off staff.
Most of these employees are not leaving the workforce, so maybe a more appropriate name for this shift is the “Great Renegotiation.” Whatever you want to call it, workers appear to be in the driver seat as they revaluate what they want from their career.
Are you one of those considering a change to look for more pay or a different schedule? Regardless of the reason, it is smart to plan in advance for a smooth transition from your current employer.
When is the Right Time?
After a tough day in the office, maybe you’ve experienced a shiver of joy reading an article about someone quitting on the spot or telling their employer where to stick it. While you may wish that could be you, don’t give in to the temptation. While you may never need to go back to a former employer, there are many reasons to leave on positive terms, such as using them as a reference in the future.
Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr
It is easy to focus on your frustrations but take time to carefully consider the pros and cons of your current role. While you are at it, take a closer look internally and ask yourself:
Before making a change, you need a clear picture of the core components that need to change for you to be more satisfied. Many have jumped to a new role that paid better only to realize that it had less flexibility, unwanted responsibility, more pressure, unsatisfying work, or a worse boss and coworkers. If you are feeling unfulfilled or burnt-out, sometimes a discussion with your manager is all that is needed to alleviate the problem.
While the job market is currently friendly to job seekers, it is best to wait until you’ve officially accepted a job offer before you resign from your current position. You never know how long it will take to find your next gig, leaving yourself with an unplanned gap in employment. You don’t want to feel rushed to accept a new role because your finances get tight, or you need secure medical insurance coverage.
Keep in mind that while you can sometimes use a job offer to successfully negotiate a better salary at your current employer, it is typically best to use this as a last resort and be prepared to leave if your employer does not respond the way you’d like. If you have a good relationship with your employer and they really want to keep you, it can be effective. On the other hand, some managers may choose to see it as a sign of disloyalty instead of an attempt to stay while still being paid what you are worth. This can hamper advancement opportunities or just be stop gap while they look for your replacement.
Do it Directly
The idea of sharing what is hopefully bad news to an employer can be daunting but needs to be approached head on. The safest bet is to error on the side of breaking the news in-person. The viewpoints on this vary, but some may see anything less than an in-person conversation as discourteous. Avoid emails and texts which are not as well received, and resort to a phone or video call only if in-person isn’t feasible. Plan to have a resignation later prepared to hand in at the same time. A resignation letter should be straight-forward and to the point. No need to overshare.
It may be tempting to share the news with your work friends, but it is best to save that until after you have told your employer. You don’t want your employer finding out from a co-worker who doesn’t know how to keep a secret. Consider asking if your employer has a preference on how to communicate the news to staff so they you don’t step on any toes.
Give Enough Notice
It is standard to give an employer two weeks’ notice before you leave. If you are able, offering even longer will probably be appreciated. It can be hard to get a new hire in place within two weeks if your responsibilities can’t be easily shifted to other staff. The limiting factor here is your new employer. While waiting two weeks for you to start is expected, they may be unwilling to push out your start date. No matter the length of notice you give, let your employer know as soon as possible and include this information in your resignation letter.
If you are leaving to join a competitor, be aware that your employer may ask you to leave on the same day you give your notice and return their equipment. In some industries this is standard practice to reduce the likelihood of taking company data or clients to the competition.
A Smooth Transition
Have you taken a job where you had to figure everything out from scratch? Reinventing the wheel doesn’t make for a smooth transition and employers often underestimate how much knowledge they are losing as part of turnover.
It is smart to use your last two weeks to lean into documenting policies and procedures that have previously only lived in your head. You have likely internalized a lot of knowledge that would be helpful for the next person to step into your shoes. You will also want to evaluate your ongoing responsibilities and open projects. Get a good idea of which open projects you can wrap up and what work will need to be taken over by others. This is best done in cooperation with your supervisor.
It is likely that you’ve built relationships with both co-workers and leaders during your time with the organization. Take time to personally thank them and recognize the role they’ve played in your growth. You may be leaving but showing appreciation is always good etiquette and can help you grow your network.
Nearly everyone changes jobs at some point, and this probably isn’t the first time your employer has had someone leave. Communicating timely and being prepared to support the transition will be the most helpful thing you can do to facilitate a graceful departure.
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About the Author
Jason McGill – Oregon & SW Washington Practice Leader, The ASP Team
Jason McGill is a dynamic accounting and finance manager with strong nonprofit leadership experience in addition to public accounting experience. In addition to his role at ASP, Jason continues to support Youth Contact, Children Cancer Therapy Development Institute, Forth Mobility, and Washington County Visitors Association with contract accounting support. He previously served as Vice President of Thompson & Associates. Jason holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and Finance from Walla Walla University, and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from California State University San Bernardino. He also holds a CPA license in the state of Oregon.