Leaving your current employment can be difficult, awkward, and maybe a little sad. After all, your reason for leaving may have nothing to do with your colleagues, your boss, your environment, or even your job duties. Making a graceful and amicable exit takes some effort, but it’s time well spent.
A friend once said, “You’ll never regret taking the high road.”
Where Do You Start?
No matter how big or small the company is, give as much notice as possible. If you are leaving a company of five, the company is losing 20 percent of its workforce; face it, they need time.
Although two weeks is the standard amount of time to give your boss notice that you are moving on, it is just the minimum. If you know sooner than two weeks, more advanced notice is always appreciated.
Other considerations include benefits administration. Are you ending employment for medical reasons? A trip to your benefits administrator may be necessary to determine possible eligibility with benefits such as:
- Disability Coverage: When employment ends, often so does your employer-sponsored disability coverage. Coverage usually ends on your last day of work.
- Life Insurance: Make a choice about continuing life insurance.
- Retirement Savings Programs: Decide what to do with money in your retirement savings programs. Your contributions will end and you will likely want to consider rolling accounts over into a move productive vehicle for your personal situation.
- Flexible Spending Accounts: Remember to spend the money in your flexible spending account (FSA) as you will likely go off-status.
- COBRA: The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides an option for temporary health plan coverage by continuing your policy with your former employer’s group insurance plan. To be eligible, your company must have 20 or more employees enrolled in a group plan. If you choose to enroll in COBRA, you're responsible for 100 percent of the premiums plus a 2 percent administrative fee. Coverage can lasts up to 18 months from the day of eligibility.
The exit interview can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. After all, if you are leaving because you are unhappy, say so—but in a positive light; don’t just take a parting shot at your peer or your boss to get it off your chest.
Holding your tongue might be difficult. Try to be honest but helpful with your feedback. Add constructive critiques and suggest improvements that advance the company and would have made you feel differently were these methods employed. All employers are willing to make changes or updates to existing policies in the name of retention.
In the end, the way you finish a job is just as important as the way you start one. Don’t tarnish your image or burn a bridge. Stay focused through the end of your notice, make every attempt to close out projects before you leave, avoid two-hour lunches during your last two weeks, and keep your stated office hours through the end. The way you close out relationships with your colleagues will leave a lasting impression of you for years to come.
Aside from the obvious benefit of maintaining strong references, you never know which colleagues you'll cross paths with again.