Resigning from a job is a predicament that most people will find themselves in at some point in their career. According to Indeed (2020), resigning means to “voluntarily leave your job”. You may ask yourself why anyone would want to leave their job when it pays and probably has a good deal for them. Not every factor that contributes to one leaving their job is negative. Finding a better opportunity may be one of them, even if you enjoy the organisation you are currently working in. Everyone has their reasons to go but the secret though is, how will you do it?
Whether you are thinking of leaving because you have had enough of the place or for a better job opportunity, this article will provide everything you will need to know about resigning. Do not wait for the time you need to leave, to start thinking of an exit plan but always have the knowledge of how to go about it for when you may need it in the future.
As an employer, this article may also help in providing insight on employees’ thoughts. At times employers need to place themselves in employees’ shoes to understand why they decide to leave their jobs. One or two things can be learnt and be used to improve the way business is conducted in the organisation. Resignation is not only about the person leaving the job but also has a lot to do with the environment being left behind.
Statistics Behind Job Resignation
From research conducted on resignation, interesting statistics stand out. These will be outlined below as provided by the HRPartner (2020).
Around 80% of employees leave an organisation due to bad hiring practices or decisions. This rate of turnover is extremely high and can be detrimental to the performance of the organisation and the individual as a result of a misfit. There is always emphasis on using the correct recruitment techniques such as psychometric testing, assessment centres and objective interview processes when hiring someone for a job. The problem that is largely faced, is that many companies avoid using the correct methods of recruitment in fear of high costs incurred in finding the right person. The truth is, the real cost is seen when the wrong person is hired. Rather than a liability, recruitment costs should be viewed as expenses that are needed to optimally run the business.
Issues such as favouritism and nepotism should be avoided at all costs. Placing someone who is not fit for the job to produce results that they can not handle may not only frustrate the organisation but the individual themselves. An unrealistic expectation on their abilities may cause them to leave and find employment elsewhere. If they decide to stay, low productivity may still impact the organisation’s performance. In the long run, the employer may be pushed to let them go and start to look for someone else again.
50% of employees leave within the first two years of their job. A recently employed individual is the hardest to keep. This is because there are so many expectations when it comes to the work environment that they had imagined and what the organisation is offering. This shows that the psychological contract that the employee had with the organisation may have been broken. A psychological contract is the fulfilment and non-fulfilment of organisational relationships in terms of mutual obligations, expectations and promises (Savarimuthu & Rachae, 2017). This goes back to the hiring practices, especially in the interview stage. This is where the employer and employee find out each other’s expectations. Both parties need to be honest with each other in terms of what it will be like working for the organisation and what it will be like offering one’s services to the organisation. When this is not clearly laid out, one may decide to leave over time.
46% of Human Resources (HR) practitioners believe that burnout is the reason for 50% of organisations’ annual turnover rates (HRPartner, 2020). This is a high number of HR practitioners to believe the reasons for employees leaving the organisation. Although the main goal for any organisation in hiring employees is to maximise profits through them, it does not mean that overworking them is the answer.
Burnout is the “prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job. It is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and professional inefficacy” (Maslach and Leiter 2007). Unfortunately, some may view burnout as merely being tired but as defined above burnout is not only being tired of something. It takes a huge toll on the psychological, physical and emotional aspects of one’s life and the lives of those around them. As an employee, watch out for the signs of stress before they get too serious forcing you to quit. As an employer, ensure that employees are healthy, well rested and can handle the work load that they are given.
What are some major reasons people resign from their jobs?
Employees leave organisations for varying reasons. When there is instability in the organisation, employees tend to get confused and leave. A constant change in the vision and the goals of the organisation may lead to mistrust from employees and push them to exit the company.
Many individuals enter organisations, not only to get paid but for an opportunity for growth as well. It is not enough for each person, to get paid for doing their job. Some want to expand their knowledge and their skills set (HRPartner, 2020). If an organisation is not going to allow them to do that, then chances of those people staying are slim to none.
A lack of appreciation can be a push factor for employees when they decide to leave a job. It is crucial to remember that employees are humans and they have emotions that need to be fulfilled, the same way other needs do. A mere showing of appreciation can boost a person’s moral and prompt them to work harder. Everyone wants to be recognised and recognising individuals for the good work they have done can give them the confidence and the drive to do better next time. This is called positive reinforcement. It does not mean that the employer has to give the employee monetary incentives for a job well done but there are so many other fulfilling ways that this can be achieved.
According to HRPartner (2020), “strained relationships with managers are among the top reasons why employees leave an organisation”. If the relationship between a manager and subordinate is broken and nothing is done to try and mend that relationship from the employer’s side, nothing will be done to try and achieve goals on the employee’s end. As mentioned before, psychological contracts include promises and expectations that people would have agreed upon in themselves. The relationship between an employee and their manager is exceptionally crucial in ensuring that the performance targeted is achieved.
It is not enough, rather, it is damaging for managers to use negative reinforcement to get their subordinates to work. Constantly, threatening one’s job security will not make them work harder, rather can chase them away. Imagine being given a gift by a parent and each day they threaten to take it away for various reasons, this can frustrate an individual to the point where they would rather not have the item at all. Managing training is important should be heavily invested in.
How to ensure that you are prepared to resign from your job
In this section you will see what you should do before you quit your job. It should not be as dramatic as seen in movies, where one storms into the office and shouts “I quit”. That should be the opposite of what you should do. Stay composed even if you do not feel that way inside.
Before you think of leaving your job, make sure that you really want to quit (Doyle, 2020). How will you know that it is the right thing for you to do?
- Many signs will prompt you into finalising on this decision. Some include stress and physical complaints that you have started experiencing in your job. Burnout, as discussed previously is a serious condition that arises from prolonged work issues (Maslach and Leiter 2007). Try by all means to not allow yourself to get to this point. If you are feeling stressed, take some time off and do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself.
- If you notice that your productivity has significantly dropped even though you are working hard, then maybe something is wrong. Find out why your productivity has dropped, speak to your manager on why this is happening and explore other options to bring it back up. If all fails, then maybe it is time to think about moving on from that environment.
- Listen to the conversations that you are having with your friends and family (Doyle, 2020). Are you mostly talking about work? It is good to discuss how work is going as it may be a sign of enjoyment and fulfilment. Yes, you may have one or two complaints here and there but that is normal. The danger comes in when all you talk about is work, you can’t live a normal life anymore because work has dominated the way you live. It is important to understand that your job should not be your life because it may start to control you. If things go bad at work, it will affect you. If they are good, you will be happy. Do not be controlled by the work environment. If this is the case, take a back seat and analyse what actual benefits the job is providing you.
Weigh the other job that you have (if you have one waiting) compared to the job you are currently in.
Compile a list that shows you which job benefits you more than the other.
- You may feel that you are running away from one problem and entering into another. Ask about the new company’s culture. Will you be a fit? How much are they paying you? Do you have opportunities for growth in the new company? Add other questions that you may find fit to help you make that decision. If the result comes out in favour of leaving, then that is one step to ensuring that you are ready to leave the organisation.
- Make sure that, before you leave your current job, you have signed the contract for your new one. Do not find yourself in a situation where you have left a job then something beyond anyone’s control happens and you can no longer take the new job. Be secure when you leave your job so that you can leave with a peace of mind.
Make sure that you give adequate notice (HRPartner, 2020) to your employer.
- To know how much time you will need to inform your employer, go through the contract you signed when you entered the organisation. This is the importance of fully understanding a contract before signing it. You must give your notice in due time, as the employer will also need to start making plans of how to replace the employee they have lost in that position.
When you decide to leave, think of the conduct in which you will exit the organisation. Doyle (2020), refers to it as “quitting gracefully”.
- Leaving dramatically as in the movies may tarnish your image than do you good by quitting your job. A resignation letter is a must when resigning from a position. This is a sign of respect and shows that you have taken the time to think through the reason for your exit from the organisation. A resignation letter may help in maintaining positive relationships with your employer while ensuring that you leave with no baggage on your shoulder. Remember not to treat your employer negatively just because you are leaving as you may never know when you might need them in the future.
- In addition to quitting gracefully, do not leave the organisation while on bad terms with your employer. This may make looking for a job much worse for you than you think. Always keep in mind that on your CV, you will need to include someone from your previous organisation as a reference. Recruiters will make sure that they get in touch with them. You cannot run away from this. At all times, try to maintain healthy and positive relationships, not only with your employer but with colleagues in the organisation as well.
Talk to your manager or your boss about your decision to quit (Doyle, 2020).
- Do not discuss with colleagues about your intention to quit your job before you have notified your manager. The last thing you want is for your superior to hear about your resignation through the grapevine as it may be put across in a manner that you did not intend for them to hear. Getting to know about this indirectly can make them feel disrespected and treat your resignation as an act against them (Chi, 2018).
- Let them know why you have decided to leave the organisation although you do not to be too specific about everything. In doing this, focus on the positives that you have experienced in the job and not focus on all the bad things that pushed you to quit. Unless you feel your reason may help your employer in improving and retaining staff members in the future, then rather leave it on the side. You are leaving anyway so there is no point in attempting to spark outrage at this stage. Besides, there is no job experience that is 100% negative, there will have been some good times that you have enjoyed, highlight those.
- After having made a formal announcement, you are free to ask for a reference letter from your manager or someone from the organisation who has worked closely with you. As time goes by, getting a hold of previous employers to request for a reference letter becomes difficult for various reasons. Some may change phone numbers or email addresses, among other things. Leaving with this document in hand will save you time and stress in the future for when you will need it.
Return the company property that was handed to you when you joined that organisation. By keeping items that are not yours, you may put yourself at risk of being liable to your previous employer. Whether it was a company car, a laptop or any property given to you, it must go back to where it came from. Do not believe that because you have left, they have no means to find you. Because it was never yours, you should not feel a burden of returning it to the owner. Save yourself the stress of being looked for after you have left, especially if the organisation is a place you did not plan on going back to again.
Lastly, talk to someone about your decision to leave your job. This person must be someone you trust and knows you well. Avoid speaking to someone who always supports your decisions. In this situation, you will need a more objective person who will ask you all the necessary questions and guide you (Chi, 2018). The reasoning behind this is that, quitting your job can not only impact you but may have heavy consequences on those around you for many reasons. It may take its toll on your emotional wellbeing (more than it may already have by being in the job), your finances and career. If you have dependents, think of how leaving your job will affect them too. Your social life may also be impacted as stress levels are bound to rise while looking for your next job.
Resignation letter sample
If you are unsure of how to word your resignation letter, The Corporate Finance Institution (2015), offers a template that may help you in writing yours.
[Your Street Address]
[Your City, State/Province, Country]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]
[Employer Contact Name]
[Employer Company Name]
Dear [Employer Contact Name],
[First paragraph: I am writing to provide you with my formal notice of resignation from The Company. My last day will be January 19, 2018, two weeks from today.]
[Second paragraph: This was not an easy decision to make, and I appreciate your support throughout my employment at The Company. I truly value the experience, training, and knowledge I gained over the past X years. It has been a pleasure working with you and the team.
[Third paragraph: Please let me know how I can help during this transition. I wish you all the best as the company continues to grow.]
[Image of Signature]
N.B. Always remember to make it your own, as much as you have a template from somewhere else.
What questions should you ask yourself before you resign?
Below are some crucial questions that one needs to ask themselves while they are thinking of resigning from their job:
- How long do you think it will take for you to find your next job? When thinking of resigning from your job, it is important to have a realistic idea of how long may take you to be employed again. Look at the economy and think objectively, putting emotions aside, on the options that you have when you leave (Doyle, 2020). In the Zimbabwean economy that we live in, unemployment levels are worryingly high and finding a job in the next month is not a guarantee.
- If you already have a job lined up then the duties of ensuring that you are set to leave are much less. On the other hand, if you do not have a job waiting or another source of income for that period, think about how you will sustain yourself until then. Do you have bills to pay such as rent, school fees and other obligations? If so, were you relying on your job to pay them off every month? if the answer is yes, then consider resigning right now from the job until you are certain of how you will sustain yourself until the next source of income comes (Doyle, 2020).
- The next question you need to ask yourself is, if there is another employer ready to take you onboard, how much are they willing to pay compared to your current job. Although it is not always about money, in some situations, money is the driving force as to why people stay in their jobs. Situations differ and may force someone to stay even if they hate being where they are. If money is not a driving force for you to stay in the organisation and you are looking for experience then this will not completely apply.
- What other jobs may you be qualified for and interested in taking? It may be possible to find another job but it is not always a guarantee that that job will be in line with the one that you are currently in (Doyle, 2020). If you really cannot stay in your current job but need some income and the only way is to enter into a different type of job. You may have to do that until the right one comes your way. Today’s economy is not easy for a job seeker and unfortunately forces some people to stay in places they believe are not good for them.
What if I want to resign immediately?
You may not always have the chance to give adequate notice to your employer. In this case, the point above does not apply. Go through your contract again and understand what it says about giving the notice to leave the organisation. Failure to adhere to these outlines may find themselves in trouble with the organisation as this is a breach of contract. In some instances, you may find yourself not being paid for that month because an inadequate notice period is given.
There are cases where employees need to leave immediately or in less time than what is stipulated in the contract. For whatever reason, you may need to leave immediately, ensure that you speak to your manager, the HR manager or the boss on the reasons why you wish to leave right away. It is best to do this in person rather via email or over the phone (Chi, 2018). Already you wish to leave outside of the allowed time frame.
If you can, schedule a meeting to speak in person so you come across as respectful and explain the reasons for leaving. Upon doing so, offer your support to the company until your notice period is over even if you are not physically at the workplace.
Below are some serious reasons outlined by Doyle (2020) why employees may wish to turn to resign immediately and, in such cases, the notice period can be looked over:
- An employee has been physically abusive.
- A supervisor has sexually harassed you.
- The work environment is hostile or otherwise unsafe, or it is unsafe to carry out your assigned responsibilities.
- Your mental health is being seriously endangered by job stress.
- You have not been paid the agreed-upon wage or wages have been withheld for an unreasonable length of time.
- You have been asked to do something unethical or illegal.
- Personal or family circumstances are such that you need to leave the job.
- A crisis has happened in your life, and there is no way you can continue the job.
When someone thinks of leaving immediately, it is important to understand why they are doing so.
Impact of Turnover on Companies
Turnover rates may have a large impact on an organisation at hand. There are costs are incurred when hiring an employee, as well as costs when an incumbent needs to be replaced. Alvarez (2020), outlines the financial impact of turnover varying by the level that the incumbent was employed at.
- At the entry level, it costs an organisation 16% of that position’s annual salary.
- At the middle level, about 20% of the annual salary goes into turnover costs.
- As expected, executive positions contribute to the highest financial cost in turnover. Alvarez (2020), highlights that executive-level jobs cost an organisation a major 213% of that job’s annual salary when an employee leaves.
What can employers do?
If you are an employer and reading this, this article may also offer extensive guidance on how to manage your employees. Be mindful to take care of employees and avoid the mindset that taking care of them, or training them is a cost on the organisation. Some practices can be taken into account to avoid resignations from employees. The biggest cost that any organisation can incur is hiring the wrong people or failing to cater for the right person and they decide to leave. Cheap managing tactics are much more expensive in the future.
A work environment should be enjoyable and employees should not feel burdened to come into work each day. Below are some ways that employers can try to retain employees (Alvarez, 2020).
- Hire the right candidate – Recruitment should not be a cheap process as the wrong hire can cost you much more than you spend when hiring the wrong one. Request for psychometric tests for prospective candidates and take the recommended steps to hire the right candidate.
- Train your managers – Managers are the people who interact with employees on a day to day basis. Training them is very important as they need to be aware of how to manage workplace relationships. Managers manage employees with very different personalities, they will need to know how to treat them differently, according to the kind of person they would be dealing with a certain point in time. A one size fits all approach may weaken the formal relationship that they may have with their subordinates and in some cases, impact the performance of these employees.
- Exit Interviews – If one of your employees decides that they want to leave, it is in your best interest to hold an exit interview before they go. Exit interviews provide feedback on why employees leave, what they liked about their job, and where the organisation needs improvement (Serrat, 2017). If these interviews are consistently held overtime when an employee leaves, the result can have a significant impact on the organisation. These interviews will give a better insight into why employees are leaving the organisation. By analysing the data over time, trends can be seen. Information can be picked up as to why people are leaving, such as a hostile work environment for a certain group of employees. Without these interviews, some crucial information can be missed, hindering the organisation’s future growth.
- When an employee decides to come to you to announce their resignation, do not victimise them as to why they are going. Chances are if they are not leaving for a better job opportunity, they feel it is in their best interest to go. Healthy professional relationships can still be maintained even when someone decides to go. Provide an open and catering environment for people to feel free to come and speak. Many time employees keep things inside, in fear of repercussions to the point where they leave the organisation without you knowing the real reasoning why.
- Promote work-life balance – With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the earth, it has been seen that flexible work is attainable. A good work-life balance can yield positive results for both employees and employers because of an increase in satisfaction (Thangadurai, 2020). Remember that employees are people and they are not only here to make money. Healthy and happy employees are more likely to perform better than those that are constantly under pressure for different issues stemming from the workplace.
Finding a way to quit a job is never an easy thing to do but there is always information available to help in making this decision. Speak to trusted people who will guide you on what to do and offer support when you need it. Before you decide to resign from your job, ensure that all questions outlined above are answered. If you have tried everything that you can to better your work experience but still feel you should go, then consider that. Remember to always put yourself first, your happiness and health come before anything else.
If you are an employer, always remember to place yourself in employees’ shoes. Take time to understand why certain things are happening in the organisation. Most times, the employer has the power to limit the numbers of employees that leave the organisation.
Thandeka Madziwanyika is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or
Cell number +263 78 318 0936 or
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List of References
Alvarez, M. (2020). Understanding Why Employees Leave: Turnover Statistics You Need to Know. [online]. HR Partner. Available at: [Accessed 19 July 2020].
Chi, C. (2018). How to Quit Your Job in the Most Professional Way Possible. [online]. Hubspot. Available at: < https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/quit-your-job> [Accessed, 17 July 2020].
Corporate Finance Institute. (2020). Resignation Letter – How to Write a Letter of Resignation, Template. [online]. Available at: https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/how-to-job-guides/resignation-letter-template/ [Accessed 20 July 2020].
Doyle, A. (2020). Reasons Not to Give Two Weeks’ Notice. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 20 July 2020].
Indeed.com. (2020). Q & A: What Does “Resign” Mean and How Does it Work? [online]. Indeed. Available at: < https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/what-does-resign-mean> [Accessed 19 July 2020].
Maslach, C., & Leiter, M, P. (2007). Burnout. [online]. Resarchgate. Available at: [Accessed 17 July 2020].
Savarimuthu, A., & Rachael, A, J. (2020). Psychological Contract – A Conceptual Framework. [online]. Researchgate. Available at: [Accessed 19 July 2020].
Serrat, O. (2017). Conducting Exit Interviews. [online]. Researchgate. Available at: [Accessed 20 July 2020].
Thangadurai, S. (2020). Work Life Balance at Work. [online]. Researchgate. Available at: [Accessed 20 July 2020].
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