How To Resign Without Burning Bridges

Australia is in the midst of a resignation boom. New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed the national turnover or ‘quit’ rate rose to 9.5% over the year to February 2022 – its highest level since 2012.

The ABS data show 1.3 million people (or 9.5% of employed people) changed jobs, the highest annual job mobility rate since 2012, up from 7.5% for period ending February 2021.

Whether you’ve been offered a new role, or you’ve decided to create space for something better, it’s important to resign professionally and avoid burning bridges where you can.

Leaving a job on bad terms is best avoided if you can, says HR specialist and founding director of Employii, Ella Burke. “Resigning is a fact of life, and your employer knows this,” she says. “But it’s how you go about it that can either open new doors or burn that bridge forever. It’s in your interest to be professional, respectful, and still focus on building bridges not burning them.”

5 Steps To Resigning Without Burning Bridges

Resign face-to-face where possible
“Generally, people find it more respectful for you to resign in person,” she says. “Your emotions, tone of voice and body language humanise you.” So, first let your manager or boss know you’d like to chat when they’re free next or request a one-on-one meeting with them.

You’re just letting them know you’d like to talk at this stage, but it’s not a bad idea to be prepared to tell them you’re resigning in that moment, just in case scheduling that meeting is tricky. It’s important that they hear about your resignation from you, not from anyone else. If it’s not possible to meet in person, arranging a video or phone call is your next best option.

As for the conversation itself, keep it around the facts. Let them know you’re resigning and give a sense of why you’re leaving. It might be something like, ‘I’ve been offered a new opportunity’ or ‘I’ve decided to pursue a new direction in my career’. Speaking in terms of your values can help, Burke says. “They may not like you leaving but they can understand the ‘why’ behind it.”

Show you’re thankful
This conversation is also an important chance to thank your employer. That might be for the opportunity you’ve had to work at the company, or for the guidance they’ve shown you. Even if you’re no longer happy in your role, there’s likely something that you’ve taken from it that you can show appreciation for.

Follow up in writing
After you’ve resigned verbally, it’s important to formalise things with a letter to your employer, sent soon after your conversation. You might want to have it drafted before your conversation. SEEK offers a resignation template that can get you started.

The letter needs to provide the date of your last day of employment, so make sure you’re giving the required amount of notice. Check your award or contract if you’re unsure how much notice is required – the Fair Work Ombudsman has more information on this.

Giving enough notice gives your employer a better chance of covering your responsibilities, so it can be key to leaving on good terms. “Not giving enough notice can be considered disrespectful and unfair to the rest of the team,” says Burke. “And you also risk your employer deducting funds from your final pay.”

Work hard during your notice period
The time between resigning and your last day is key to leaving on good terms. One reason for this comes down to something called ‘recency bias’, Burke explains. “Recency bias is when people place more emphasis on experiences that are freshest in their memory, so make them positive! If someone does contact your old colleague or manager for a referral, they’re more likely to provide a reference heavily influenced by your behaviour and performance in the last few weeks.”

Continuing to perform your role to a high standard, wrapping up projects or offering to train other staff in your duties can all help to leave a positive impression.

Continue to support the business after you’ve left
You never know how or when a connection could come in handy, says Burke, so like their posts online, share their successes, connect and refer people when it’s appropriate. “It could be one, two or 10 years down the track, but it can happen,” she says.

No matter what your plans are for once you’ve left a job, leaving on good terms can only help you in the long run. You never know when and where a contact will pop up in your future, or be connected to someone who knows someone.

While not every boss creates an environment that encourages a positive exit, leaving in a professional way means you can hold your head high. If you require assistance with your career direction, we offer career coaching as one of our services.

Article Source: SEEK.com

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published March 2022.

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