Do I Need To Give 2 Weeks Notice If I Quit My Job?
A reader recently wrote to ask about giving two weeks notice at a job when she doesn't even want to walk back into the building again if she doesn't have to. She's had it with the way she's been treated by co-workers and is ready to quit, move on, and never look back.
But at the same time, her boss actually has been kind to her. And she feels bad about just leaving her employer that way without any explanation. So she's wondering what to do. Here's some of what she wrote:
Do I really owe an employer two weeks notice?
Dear Ronnie Ann,
"My co workers often take advantage of me and expect me to do their work too. [Also} … now we are moving 40 minutes away and for a minimum wage job that won't give me a pay raise I just can't stay there any more … and some personal things happened over the weekend so I made the choice to finally quit.
I wasn't planning on going back, but my mom seems to think I should at least put in a two weeks. I however think I at least owe my boss an explanation but here's the problem. I'm horrible with confrontation and I'm afraid to talk to my boss he's been very good to me and I can't just screw him over so I thought of going in there and leaving him my keys and name badge with a written explanation of why I'm quitting."
How to turn giving notice to your advantage
Here's some of my response with a few added thoughts:
"Even when you need to quit a job, it's important not to use the opportunity to tell anyone off or list everything that was done wrong toward you – even if the real list feels long. You want to leave on the best note possible. You can't undo the past, but you can choose to move forward on the strongest footing possible.
Moving 40 minutes away is a perfect excuse. Yes, two weeks would be the right thing to do, as hard as it might feel. I've had similar situations myself where it was awful, but just knowing I was leaving was enough to make those two weeks easier. And it's even better when you talk about plans that sound fun or exciting – no harm dreaming out loud a little.
Since your boss has been so nice to you, do what you can to leave on good terms. And, if you can screw up the courage, even ask him what advice he'd give you to make the next job work better. There's always something to learn, and this helps him feel he is being respected."
Pushing through those nerves
I also had a few more things to say about how she might handle this in a way that could work for her and yet not "screw over" her boss:
"Just so you know, most people would feel nervous in this situation. I know I would. The thing is, I'd go ahead anyway, even if I stumble over my words or have trouble expressing myself as well as I wish I could. It does get easier the more times you speak up for yourself, especially if you learn to keep it positive while still expressing real needs.
One thing that might help is for you to approach it with gratitude. That may sound strange since the situation is making you miserable. But since your boss has been kind to you, ask to speak to him privately and tell him that. And thank him.
You can explain that you're moving and need to leave. And then ask for any advice to do better in your next job. And if he says you can leave sooner, fine, but if he asks you to stay for the two weeks, see if you can do it. You can even check in here and count off the days if it would help."
Why giving enough notice is probably best for you
The most important thing is not to act in haste … especially where the aftermath may follow you for years. References matter. And so does helping ourselves learn to face tough situations. If you can just get yourself through the talk with your boss AND the two weeks, you will help strengthen your ability to get through future tough interpersonal work situations. And hopefully you'll be able to use your newly-found inner strength to stand up for yourself with more confidence in your next job.
All workplaces have these situations. The best place to start to change things for ourselves is to start right where we are, using the moment to push through to something new. Moving on will be good. Moving on feeling strong will be even better.
When is it okay to not give 2 weeks notice?
There are always exceptions. If you are in a situation where you're being abused physically or feel threatened with imminent danger or encounter some illegal activity you do not want to be part of, then leaving without notice may be the right way to go. And, having been there myself, if you just can't stand it and have to get out no matter what – and are willing to live with the consequences of no references or badmouthing that can follow you – then you should do what you feel you have to do.
But if at all possible — and usually it is — give your employer the two-weeks notice and leave on the best note possible. A moment of anger or embarrassment shouldn't be the reason you can't get a job a year from now!