Rage Quit? Throw a Fit? You Might Regret it.


I’ll never forget the copy editor I worked with briefly years ago. He was bright, new in town, and serious about learning his new job.

Our newspaper staff was sometimes raucous on evenings when things were going well and sometimes subdued when a late story or tragedy muted the chatter. Some of us had worked together for decades and there was a deep history of respect and camaraderie that carried us through our deadlines. It wasn’t a good fit for everyone, though, and there was a time when one copy editor position seemed to be in steady turnover.

I’m not sure the staff was all that welcoming when John arrived. He was unusually quiet and accepted criticism without much protest or discussion. Because he sat next to me, I knew he was calling a motel room home during his first days in town. During those days, he personalized only 6-by-8 inches of his work space with a photograph of the girlfriend he left behind to take the job.

A look of shock on this young mans face

I began to notice that while John appeared to stoically accept criticism on his headlines, he seemed to be growing tense and withdrawing. One day, he took an unacceptably long time away at lunch and I knew it would be an issue when he returned. But he never did. I peeked at his desk and saw the photo of his girlfriend was gone. So was John, without a word to anyone.

TWO WEEKS’ NOTICE is the standard method of quitting most jobs, but that lacks drama. According to a survey by global staffing service, OfficeTeam, some workers decide to go big and go home. Among the stories that more than 600 HR managers told OfficeTeam were those of an employee who baked a cake with her resignation letter written on top, a worker who threw a brick through the window with the words, “I quit,” written on it, and a man who brought a marching band to accompany his announcement.

Other unusual resignation methods included quitting via text message, Facebook, sticky note, and a message left on the company web site. Others quit by proxy; one man made his wife call to say he wasn’t coming back and another employee’s parents tendered their son’s resignation for him.

Even those approaches were too direct for passive-aggressive quitters. OfficeTeam heard from several HR managers who surmised that employees had quit when they left for lunch or the restroom and didn’t return. One said she was going out to buy new boots – apparently the kind made for walking, because she never came back.

I Quit

A RESOUNDING RESIGNATION, afire with sturm und drang, can be momentarily satisfying, but damaging for years to come. Future employers will be interested to know about that graceless moment and what it says about an applicant’s maturity and professionalism. What manager wants to worry whether an employee is spending an unusually long time in the restroom or has really staged another disappearing act?

In HR at the City of Missoula, Laurie Pfau said that while a few employees have left their jobs by just not coming back, “I can’t think of anybody who walked out or blew up.”

I Quit 2Resigning employees have kept it low-key at the county, too. At Missoula County, HR Director Patricia Baumgart said the county is legally able to disclose that a former employee didn’t give proper notice before leaving. Fortunately, that rarely happens, she said. She does recall an older man who had worked for the county for years and left with memorably minimal notice. On his daily time sheet, the employee simply wrote, “Bye bye,” one day, and that was his last day of work.

“Mostly, we get proper notice” from departing employees, Baumgart said. That often comes in the form of a letter, thanking the county for the opportunities the job provided. Sometimes those letters are used to take a parting shot at another worker or the employer and Baumgart has counseled a few people about whether they want the last document in their personnel file to be a hostile keepsake.

However they decide to give notice, most people at the county do it with dignity and the preferred two-week notice. “They want a decent reference,” Baumgart said.

The survey by OfficeTeam supports that kind of restraint. Of those 600 HR managers, 86 percent said the way employees quit a job at least somewhat affects their future career opportunities.

So while it might seem like a good idea to build a piñata in effigy of a disliked manager and let loose with a baseball bat to announce a resignation, a simple letter is a better way to quit while you’re ahead.



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Chery Sabol is an employment consultant at the Missoula Job Service, an organization that offers programs and services to assist employers and job seekers alike. Those looking for employment can view job openings on our website, as well as our Facebook Page  and Pinterest Boards. Employment consultants provide résumé reviews, conduct practice interviews, and offer skills testing.

The Job Service also provides a self-service area where job seekers have access to phones, a fax machine, a copier, and computers. Our qualified staff also offers business consulting services, including employee recruitment and retention assistance. Additionally, we provide financial support for businesses looking to train both new and current employees.

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