Working through a notice period can be tricky for those leaving a job for pastures new. If your resignation came out of the blue, you may experience a range of emotions from those you’re leaving behind. Shock, disappointment, frustration, and even anger, are all common experiences reported by employees after they have handed over their letter of resignation to their management team.
So how do you navigate this awkward period that ends one chapter before you can leap into your next opportunity?
This post aims to help you if you are worried about the weeks – or months – following your resignation. We’ll advise you on how to conduct yourself during your notice period and offer you some hints and tips on what you can do to make sure your notice period is as professional, and as productive, as possible.
What is a notice period?
If you are new to the working world, your notice period is the time you must remain at your current employer following your resignation and your last working day.
There are several factors that dictate how long you must remain at your current employer, and it’s not unusual for it to vary between organisations. As a rule, though, this length of time is made clear within the terms and conditions of employment set out in your contract which both you and your employer signed when you started your role.
There are other factors that determine the length of a notice period. For example, senior staff members will often have longer notice periods than their junior colleagues. Additionally, if you have a probation period as part of your contract, it is not unusual for you to have a small or, in some cases, no notice period at all.
In some cases, you may be able to negotiate your notice period. For example, you may be able to use any unused holiday to ‘buy back’ some of your notice period.
It is a good idea to check the terms and conditions of your contract so that you can let your new employers know an accurate start date.
How should I conduct myself throughout my notice period?
It is crucial to remember that you are still employed during your notice period. Your employer will still expect you to conduct yourself professionally throughout this time. It’s important that you continue to complete your tasks and responsibilities as normal.
Here are some tips to make sure you remain productive and professional during your notice period.
Remain focussed and ‘on-task’.
When you have handed in your notice, it’s easy to become complacent. However, to conduct yourself professionally you must remain focussed on your work and fulfill the role that you are (still) employed to do. This is not only good professional practice, but to get a positive employment reference, it’s important to you leave a good impression. When your boss is asked “Would you re-employ?”, you need the answer to be “yes”.
Keep good attendance and don’t be late.
Punctuality and attendance are two skills in life and work you need no qualifications to achieve. These are easy wins. Throughout your notice period, you are still working under the terms and conditions of your employment. This means that if your contract says your working hours are 9-5, then you need to be there ready to work at 9!
Don’t be disrespectful.
We hope that you are leaving your role in response to your own ambitions and professional aspirations – not because of poor working relationships. However, these things do happen and if this is the case, then it’s important you do not speak badly about your boss, colleagues, or company. The professional world is small, and people move roles more than they used to. Your current boss could easily become your boss again in the future. Your colleagues could be your colleagues again. In short, it’s likely you will meet again in a working capacity. When this happens, you need to be able to work alongside each other without ill-feeling.
Additionally, professional networks are small. Your current boss could very well be linked with your new boss, so make sure neither have anything bad to say about your work, attitude, or integrity.
Be mindful of those you are leaving behind.
It’s not unfair to say that some companies are better employers than others. So if you are leaving a role or organisation that is a poor employer, you should be mindful of the feelings of your colleagues. If you are leaving for a company with a better employer brand it’s probably best you don’t crow over your 4 day working week, your flexible working, or your unbelievable pension options. Your humility and kindness will be appreciated by your colleagues while you work your notice period.
Schedule an Exit Interview.
The reasons why you are leaving may be unique to you. However, they may be the cause of common dissatisfaction throughout your team. If that’s the case, arranging an exit interview may help your current employer in the future. It gives you a space to be honest about where they could improve and offers an opportunity for a better workspace in the future.
Write a detailed handover.
Whether your replacement is found during your notice period or not, someone will be doing your job in your absence. A detailed handover about the work you have been doing or the progress of your projects will be welcomed by your colleagues and your successor.
This of course needs to be written with a professional focus, but you may also like to include things such as local great lunch spots, or where to go for the best coffee near the office.
Ask for a meeting with your boss.
Hopefully, your boss will be understanding and supportive of your new role. However, if this isn’t the case try not to let this change how you operate throughout your notice period.
Once you have handed in your notice, one way to remain proactive is to collaborate with your boss. Explain that you would like to make sure that you leave the role in as good a position as possible. Ask your boss to work with you to establish what your priorities should be during this time. Your To-Do list should reflect what they need you to finish before you depart.
However they react to your resignation, there is no question that they will be thankful that you are so willing to be helpful before you leave.
We’d love to hear your experiences of your notice period working. Have you any tips to add to this list that has made your final weeks or months more productive? As ever, leave them in the comments below!