When things don’t go as smoothly as you thought at work, you may fantasize about walking out of your job like how they depict it in movies. But you may be playing with fire if you dramatically storm off your office. So as much as you think your actions are justified, it’s better to keep your cool.
While you might feel like you made the wrong decision by applying for this job role, it’s still a learning opportunity. Now you know this type of work culture is not for you, your position doesn’t match your expertise, or there’s nothing about the workplace that motivates you.
As you learn more about yourself through ill-fitting positions, you can pinpoint the right career for you to avoid abruptly quitting. So before you walk out, there are some things you need to know to exit the company on good terms.
Common reasons why people walk out of their jobs
Employees making a sudden departure is more common than you think. In fact, 4.3 million people walked out of their job in 2021. These statistics show that workers are searching for more than just a monthly paycheck.
People are looking for jobs to help them achieve their career goals and learning opportunities with a company that forces them to outgrow their skills.
To give you a better view, here are some of the root causes of why people walk out of their current job:
Compensation is not enough
An employee’s salary keeps food on the table, clothes to keep them warm, and a roof over their heads. These are the basic needs they have to fulfill to survive every day. That is why it’s the primary motivator for workers to keep searching for a job that can provide them with that and more.
Pew Research shows that 63% of employees quit their jobs in 2021 due to low pay.
With how easy it is to compare salaries these days, people realize they can work the same job elsewhere but with higher compensation.
No room for career growth
The quitting trend will not slow down unless companies find a way to fix the long-forgotten need of their employees. However, while employers remain unhappy that there are not enough skilled workers, they forget to implement training programs to meet the skill gap.
The interest in learning and development is rising strongly among young workers. 94% say they would stick with a company if they invested in their career development. So when this need is unmet, businesses will see more employees walk out the door.
Poor working conditions
Work conditions are the company’s environment and job terms that affect employees’ overall satisfaction and well-being. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Hygiene factors and basic necessities
- Safe and healthy environments
- Workload and work schedule
- Location and commute
But depending on how severe the work conditions are, employees can leave their jobs anytime because their physical and mental health is on the line.
Toxic work culture
The most significant driving force behind the Great Resignation in 2021 wasn’t because of salary disputes. Despite workers having high-paying jobs, there was an unusual turnover that posed a bigger challenge for companies to fix.
In 2021, more than 24 million employees in America left their jobs. And toxic work culture was to blame. When a company fails to promote equality, diversity, and communication, workers feel disrespected and undervalued. So people take this experience as a sign that it’s time to look for a new job. If you’re not sure about the signs to look for, see this toxic workplace checklist.
Better job offers
When workers have had enough, they will apply for work somewhere else even if they still hold a position with a company. But once they get a better job offer, they’ll resign right away. Whether their potential employers gave them a higher salary or better work arrangements, they wouldn’t give it much thought before sending in their final notice.
Consequences of walking out of a job
Marching out the door after saying “I quit” may seem satisfying at first. But underneath it are some potential risks for walking out of a job.
If you abandon your work for whatever reasons you may have, here’s what can happen:
- Your current employer may sue you for breach of contract if you decide to walk out of your job mid-shift.
- The company may charge additional costs for a temporary worker or another employee to cover for you if you quit without notice.
- Resigning by walking out of work impacts your entitlement pay because you didn’t inform your employer that you’ll be quitting your job.
- The company may tell your future employer that you didn’t work during your notice period if you ask them for a reference. This can negatively affect your career.
Instead of letting your exhaustion and emotions get the best of you, weigh it out before calling it quits because it can come back and bite you. Even if you’re pursuing a career in a different industry, give your employer time to adjust by sending your resignation letter.
6 Things to do before you walk out of a job
No one recommends walking out of a job, even if it seems fitting at the moment. So try to keep your impulse from getting ahead of you. However, it’s okay to quit without informing your employer in advance for instances such as harassment and health concerns. You can still remain professional by giving your immediate resignation letter.
These 6 things you need to do before you walk out of a job will help you make a respectful departure:
Review your contract
Here’s the thing when you’re in this situation. It’s not black or white. Companies have different rules and policies when it comes to employees quitting their jobs. Typically, however, a two-week notice is the most common practice among professionals when resigning.
Even if there’s no legal requirement that you must give the company your two-weeks notice, it’s ideal to offer it to avoid legal problems down the road.
Aside from legal concerns, you may uncover employment-related benefits by reviewing your contract thoroughly, which may include the following:
- Unemployment insurance
- Pension benefits
- Severance pay
- Accrued leave
- Sick pay
So it’s best to study your contract before you make rash decisions. But if there’s something that you can’t wrap your head around, you can always ask your human resources department for clarification.
Think of your financial standing
Walking out of a job feels good because it’s one of the best ways to express your emotions to your company that they’ve gone too far. But this natural human reaction can ultimately affect your career in the long run, even if you’re planning on shifting.
While it can be exhilarating, your boss may consider your actions as an intent to resign. But their verdict may vary depending on the overall situation. Unless your decisions are set in stone, make sure you have the financial capability to support yourself until you find another job. Have at least six months’ worth of expenses saved up, so you stay caught up on your monthly dues. You can also consider career cushioning to avoid financial instability without draining your savings, get rid of automobile problems as they add up to a huge burden to personal finances.
Cool off first to avoid making reckless choices. And give yourself at least a couple of days to think it through and see if reacting in the heat of the moment would be a good idea.
Use all your sick and vacations days
Quitting is better than getting fired from your job since you can create a positive narrative around it. But before you walk out, make the most of your entitled leave benefits. Your company may offer a payout for unused vacation and sick days, or they may not. If they do, use them while you still can.
Take advantage of this time to reflect if voluntarily leaving work will have the desired outcome in your career later on. And ask yourself if deserting your job is worth making an effort to find a new one.
During your time off, think deeply about your emotional triggers to cope with work-related stress better. Be proactive in dealing with challenging situations because you’re bound to repeat the same circumstances if you brush them off under the rug.
While you’re enjoying your leave benefits, take some time to refine your resume, portfolio, and professional social media account. Adding things to your formal documents can showcase your recent work experience to your future employer.
Talk it through with someone you trust
If your boss thinks you intend to resign by ditching work on the spot, you need to have a good explanation as to why you did it. And better to do it as early as possible. Then they’ll have to decide whether or not to accept your reasons. So it’s best to talk it out with a family or friend you trust the most.
Sometimes you can solve sensitive matters like these by discussing them with someone reliable. This person may shed some light on the situation where you might not even need to leave your job. But be mindful of who you choose because they may misrepresent your words. Or worse, they may tell somebody in your company.
Upskill for the transition
There may be some cases where you might need to leave your job not because of the organization. But because of your boss. In instances like these, you may claim constructive dismissal. However, you have to be employed for two or more years to declare it as such.
Breach of contract by your employer has a lot of gray areas. You need to prove that they have had repeating incidents which lead you to your last straw. So be cautious when stating your case.
Whether you want to leave your job to find a new career at 50, upskilling is very important. There’s always something new to learn in this ever-changing job market dynamic. So if you want to unearth your potential that you weren’t able to gain from this job, the internet has a plethora of free and cost-effective online courses to help you with the transition.
Clean out your work computer
To have a respectful job exit, resigning should be well thought of to avoid regret afterward. If your reason for quitting is private, you can discreetly talk to your supervisor and let them know your last day.
Regardless of the length of your employment, delete everything from your and the company’s computer. However, be aware of what and what not to clear out because you may accidentally remove proprietary documents.
Below are the things you need to wipe out from your work computer:
- Recycle bin
- Personal files and apps
- Extensions you installed
- Cache, cookies, and browser history
Apart from deleting things from your work computer, save a contact list of key people that can be beneficial to your network. Additionally, ask your employer if you can have a copy of a project you worked on to add to your portfolio. But ensure to request for a written permission before keeping them.
How to explain walking out of a job in an interview
You’ve considered everything that transpired, and you made the final decision to quit. Now you’re in a dilemma about explaining a job change to your potential employers.
Here’s the ideal way to justify walking out of a job during your hiring manager:
Avoid unnecessary details
Even if you did walk out of your job, you don’t need to elaborate on all the fine details of what happened. Instead, you can tell them that your previous position no longer aligns with your career goals.
Suppose your reasons for quitting are due to caring for somebody close to you. In that case, you can briefly explain it only if you’re comfortable.
Your interviewer’s goal in asking why you’re seeking new employment is to see if you have good working relationships with your company.
Stay composed and professional
For whatever reasons you have for walking out of your job, remaining professional during your hiring manager will help you land it. A way to remain professional is never to talk negatively about anyone from your previous company.
Hiring managers want to know that you can take a painful experience and not let it bring you down.
Highlight your skills and accomplishments
Rather than dwelling on the past, draw your interviewer’s attention to the things you learned while working for the company.
Focus on your niche skills and projects you’ve accomplished. But if they asked why you left your job, answer briefly. Most often, they won’t require you to tell them everything since they’re more interested in what you can do moving forward.
Send your notice to avoid burning bridges
It’s never easy to walk out of a job, especially if you don’t want to. But quitting a toxic work environment may be the only solution to saving your mental health.
There will be people you don’t want to leave behind, but you don’t have to cut off your connection entirely. On the bright side, you can still remain friends outside of work. That’s why it’s important to offer silence instead of side comments in the heat of the moment.
After weighing out your pros and cons, have a plan B before sending your final notice. A backup plan can ease into your new job without stagnating your career.