Ever think about just clearing out your workspace one night and leaving forever, simply abandoning a rotten job and disappearing? Suffering under a vicious boss or enduring a sweatshop environment with an unappreciative employer can tempt you to retaliate like that. Well, dreaming about dumping a bad situation without warning is fine, as long as you keep it imaginary and act more sensibly.
The idea may give you some silent satisfaction, but there are many reasons not to carry though on such a self-destructive course of action. Considering the consequences of behavior is central to the total rewards profession, so compensation types should definitely know better. Right? Let’s talk about it.
After a recent article about a creative and positive bittersweet resignation, one online reader stated a preference for a more hostile job departure. Obviously less happy with their job than the person in the story, their comment showed more of a desire to figuratively give their employer the finger: “My resignation would consist of cleaning out my desk and cubicle while no one is around and splitting the scene.”
Bad idea. Abandoning a job with a midnight flight could haunt you the rest of your working life. The factually negative report of your actual behavior would undercut any positive references from other employers. You could never live it down. One hasty careless blunder can erase any goodwill earned from years of faithful service. Trust built up over a long time can be lost in a moment. Destroying all future career prospects simply to satisfy a hostile urge shows a terrible lack of judgment. It is not necessary, either. A much more temperate positive response can be far more satisfying in the long run.
Instead, by simply "regretfully" resigning "for a better title with higher pay at a bigger place with superior career options," you wouldn't burn any bridges. That popular reason is usually true, too.
Furthermore, the place you are leaving would probably pay you off immediately. Smart firms voluntarily offer pay in lieu of notice just to get happy quitters off the premises where you can't steal clients, shame management or gloat. No boss wants a departing worker who has nothing to lose hanging around disillusioning co-workers with the many superior features of your new better employer which you just can’t wait to join. Smart bosses realize that a nightmare scenario of dangerous subversion can be easily avoided by sending you home with pay for the remainder of your notice period.
Announcing your intention to leave well in advance can be a very effective strategy, especially if your old evil employer pays off deserters that way. By giving so much notice that they are forced to pay you for or a month or more, you might become free to also earn your new salary simultaneously. If you are forced you to leave earlier without pay, your separation status changes from voluntary resignation to discharge without cause, which also entitles the victim to unemployment compensation and earlier acceptance of the new position. I’ve done it.
Now, doesn’t that sound much better than just sneaking off like a thief in the night? Happily doing well is a much better revenge than spiteful sulking.
E. James (Jim) Brennan is an independent consultant with extensive total rewards experience, specializing in job evaluation, market pricing and pay budget distribution. After HR corporate jobs in chemical/pharmaceutical manufacturing, he consulted at retail, government, energy, IT, tax-exempt and other industries throughout North America before becoming Senior Associate of pay survey software publisher ERI until 2015. A prolific writer (author of the Performance Management Workbook) and speaker, he gave expert witness testimony in many reasonable executive compensation cases both for and against the Internal Revenue Service. Jim also serves on the Advisory Board of the Compensation and Benefits Review.
Image "Adult Manager Grinding His Teeth" courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net