How employees leave
September 16, 2016

How Employees Leave Reflects How They Are Treated

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Any company that has employees realizes that someday some of those employees are going to leave. A new study shows that how they go about resigning says a lot about how they were treated while employed.

Anthony Klotz, assistant professor of management at Oregon State and Mark Bolino, a professor of management at the University of Oklahoma recently collected and examined data on nearly 300 recently resigned employees and more than 200 managers of employees who had recently resigned. They found that employees use one of seven different resignation styles. Results were presented recently on Harvard Business Review.   

  • By the book: The most common resignation approach involves a face-to-face meeting with a manager to announce the resignation, includes a standard notice period and an explanation of the reason for quitting.
  • Perfunctory: The next most common is similar to “by the book” except the meetings are shorter and no reason for quitting is given.
  • Grateful: Employee expresses gratitude to employer and often offers to help with transition.
  • In the loop: These happen when an employee confides in their manager that they are contemplating leaving before formally resigning.
  • Avoidant: Employees tell their peers instead of their immediate boss that they are quitting.
  • Bridge burning: Probably the most notorious way to quit. About 10% of employees wants to harm the organization or its members when they leave.
  • Impulsive: The rarest form of quitting, this is when the employee just walks off the job and never returns.

“Employees often view their resignation as the final chance to get even with their organization and their manager, for better and worse,” researchers say. Employees who felt they had been treated well by their organization or their boss were more likely to be supportive when they quit. Alternatively when they perceived unfair treatment or abuse by a supervisor, they tried to get even in a more harmful way.

Simply put, how well you take care of employees predicts not only whether they will quit, but how they will quit. “When a company experiences a rash of ugly resignations, rather than blaming those harmful departures on employees’ character, organizations should instead consider the possibility that their employees feel mistreated,” researchers say, and explore ways to improve manager supervision tactics.Graph