Quitting Your Job Gracefully

It is so common to see people talking about storming into their boss’s office, slamming down the letter of resignation and storming out again, never to return. And hey, we have all had bosses, managers, and supervisors we would like to punch and then quit the job there and then. (I had supervisors who were accused of sexual misconduct and a job where they told eighteen-year olds to do whatever it took, to get the phone surveys done. So, I know something about terrible bosses). It’s become even more common in the last two years where Covid-19 exposed many of the cracks in the way workplaces function and people hit their breaking point.

It’s a great fantasy.

But in reality? Not so good. (We can ignore the fact that punching someone is an assault and battery charge, and that’s obviously bad!)

Oh sure, many people have done just that. (Hopefully not the punching…) They may well have been quite justified in doing it. But here’s why you shouldn’t quit with a bang, no matter how good it feels at that moment. We’re going to look at the benefits of taking a deep breath and quitting thoughtfully and gracefully instead of burning all the bridges behind you.

But go ahead and write that nasty letter. Get it out of your system first.

Quitting Impacts More than You

When you quit a job, you’re mostly just thinking ‘thank goodness’ and ‘what next’? People who are in the throes of quitting their job aren’t usually thinking of their coworkers beyond maybe missing a handful of them. But quitting your job has an impact on those around you. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it – if the job is no good for you, by all means, quit – but when you do it gracefully and tie up all the loose ends, you make it easier for everything around you to keep going after.

Ok, so it may be really satisfying to imagine the entire place collapsing without you. We have all had those fantasies. But how often does it actually happen? All that really happens is that someone is assigned to the job you used to do, and they are left with the pieces to sort out and put back together again. You’re not really adding to the stress of the manager who angered you – you’re adding to the stress of the co-worker who now has to figure out what to make of what’s left.

A good example of this is when the person who is in charge of things like social media, websites, email, and tech quits in a fiery rage. Feels good (that job is stressful after all), but the person who comes after you have thrown everything back in their faces is now left with several problems that will inevitably drag you back in. For example:

  • Passwords
  • Email accounts
  • Verification codes to let them access the tech
  • Updates
  • Schedules
  • Instant messaging set-ups
  • Computer updates
  • Computer passwords
  • Internet set up and passwords
  • Servers

Yeesh.

If the person in charge of that just up and leaves, they are still going to get dragged back because all of that information has to go to a new person and the verification codes have to be done immediately or they expire.

Instead, make sure that before you quit, you figure out who is going to be in charge of all of that and that you are ready to do a proper pass-over. They need all the passwords and accounts and be ready to do the verifications to ensure that they can do everything. This is particularly important if you’re the only one who had all the stuff before.

But that’s just one example. If you quit in the middle of a project, other people have to take up that slack. Quitting in the middle of a school year, a new teacher and substitutes have to be found.

Sure, you’re thinking ‘Not My Problem’ and it’s not (you’ve quit after all), but it’s unprofessional and here’s where it bites you in the butt.

Burning Those Bridges to the Ground

Remember when we talked about networking? (Ok, we’ve done it a few times). Networking is an important part of successful job searches, promotions, and even volunteering. People tend to want to hire and work with people they know or that come recommended to them rather than complete strangers. People also talk, particularly in their own industry. (All industries are gossipy – you can’t escape it!) And if you burned your bridges behind you, the people left coughing in your wake aren’t going to have very nice things to say about you.

Oh, perhaps you think it will just be your boss that won’t have anything nice to say, but remember that co-worker who is now saddled with everything that got left in a disarray when you left without cleaning up? They won’t have much nice to say either, not matter how friendly you were before then. And other coworkers are not going to have a mistrustful cast on you as well. Remember: your coworkers may suspect why you quit, but they probably don’t know. And in the absence of knowledge, speculation runs rampant and usually shades towards the negative.

So, what happens when you start to look for work again? You either have to leave off your last job (which looks weird), or try to figure out who you can use as a reference who won’t have anything to say about the rage quitting incident (which would be pretty hard to do). Rage quitting doesn’t look good to other employers who will wonder if you’ll do it to them too and thus you may find it a lot harder to get work. It also means that you will never be able to return to your original workplace (You’re snorting at me right now saying ‘why would I ever do that’, but it happens!) and you may find many other doors in your industries are closed as well.

Don’t burn those bridges no matter how angry you are!

Immediate Loss of Benefits and Income

In Canada, quitting your job means you are ineligible for employment insurance except under very specific circumstances. Furthermore, the government will want to talk to your employer and you about the circumstance that you are claiming as being just cause. If you left angry or suddenly, the employer is less likely to have your side in this. You also just got rid of your income and any job-related benefits like medical or dental.

If you have savings and a cushion, then fine, but if you rage-quit suddenly, you may not have those resources and now that’s going to pinch. Remember that it can take around three to six months, on average, to get a new job and then add another two weeks to that to get your first pay-check. Can you afford to rage quit?

Now, we obviously would say that if the job is truly dangerous or intolerable to your mental health, then you probably shouldn’t stick around. But leave in a way that ensures your bridges aren’t ruined and line up whatever supports you can get. There are provisions for getting EI even if you quit your job, but they are highly specific and require documentation which will be very hard to get if you leave in a blaze of glory.

No matter how justified you are though, there will still be a loss of side benefits and if you go out in a rage, a loss of references and letters of recommendation, which will make it harder to find a new job, particularly in the same industry.

Alternatives to Rage Quitting

“But my job is truly intolerable, and I need to quit.”

Yep, we have all been there. And by all means, quit. We aren’t here to tell you to keep plodding along in a job you hate. But be mindful of how you quit:

  • Ensure that you have some savings and ability to survive once you have quit your job and need to go back to job searching
  • Write a two-week letter of resignation and deliver it to the appropriate people detailing when and why you are quitting
  • Tie up as many loose ends as you can with the people who are going to take over your position
  • Try not to just coast through your last two weeks – take the time to be a professional to the last moment and shore up your letters of reference (Remember that letters of reference can come from supervisors and managers, so pick and choose carefully)
  • Start job searching in those two weeks and polish up your resume
  • Talk to someone about why you are quitting and how you feel about it (counseling, a friend, a trusted family member, etc). You don’t want to spend your last two weeks in an angry fugue and if you are still resentful while job searching, it will taint your search and your interviews
  • Make sure you have your reasons for why you quit your job clear in your head and done in a way not to lay blame on anyone. Honest, but not angry

Probably the most important thing, no matter how angry you are: stay professional. You never know who has the key to your next job and you don’t want to alienate that person inadvertently!

It’s a fun fantasy to storm out in a blaze of glory, but ultimately you make life harder on everyone but the person you are mad at: harder on your co-workers, harder on yourself, and harder on those around you. Get your anger out of your system by writing that angry letter, talking to friends and family, and even counseling if you are going, but don’t go out in a blaze of glory. Instead, take the time to thoughtfully quit your job, conduct a good job search, and clean up loose ends so that you can leave that job with a clean slate.

Have any quitting job stories to share? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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