Resignations are on the rise, but there’s a right way to walk out the door

The US Labor Department reported that four million workers quit their jobs in April, setting a 20-year record.

While he’s too refined and well-mannered to say "take this job and shove it," that was Rahkim Sabree’s thoughts when he resigned from the regional bank where he’d worked until late May.

The 31-year-old had had enough with the way he was being micromanaged and continuously assigned menial tasks. "If they needed me, I was happy to help out," said Sabree, who had risen through the ranks in the banking world over the last decade.

"But when what started as a favor became an expectation, and then part of my everyday duties."


Management also started to insist that he tell them everything he was doing in his side gig as a personal finance influencer, whether it was a TEDx Talk, speaking at a conference or even adding to his LinkedIn profile.

"‘We’ll have to document that,’ they kept telling me. It was creating anxiety. I became concerned about my mental health," said Sabree.

A man walks into a restaurant displaying a "Now Hiring" sign, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Salem, N.H. U.S. employers added a robust 379,000 jobs last month, the most since October and a sign that the economy is strengthening as confirmed viral cases (AP)

The Hartford, Connecticut, resident composed his resignation letter, waited a few days, then sent it to his boss via e-mail and logged off his computer. Even after working there for four years, providing two weeks’ notice wasn’t part of the deal.

"My decision was final. I didn’t want to talk about it, I was done," he said.

However, walking out on a job without working out your notice isn’t usually a good idea, according to experts.

"Stick it out for two weeks. You never know when you are going to need someone from your past," said psychiatrist Mark Goulston, co-author of "Why Cope When You Can Heal?" (Harper Horizon).

Lynn Taylor, author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant," agreed — unless you fear that your mental health is in imminent danger. She suggests asking yourself: Are you willing to burn your bridges to save your mental health?

The US Labor Department reported that four million workers quit their jobs in April, setting a 20-year record.

In fact, leaving your employer has become so commonplace in recent months that the phenomenon has a tag — the Great Resignation.

In fact, 26 percent of employees surveyed said that they plan to look for a new job once the threat of a pandemic has decreased, according to a March 2021 American Worker Survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Prudential. Another survey by Microsoft pegged the number at 41 percent.

"It’s undeniable that a record number of workers are resigning," said Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, noting that a normal resignation rate is 10 to 15 percent. "Now it’s more than double that," he said. Some 20- or 30-year-olds quit jobs without even worrying about what they’ll do next. "They figure they’ll figure it out later," he said.

Reasons for quitting range from burnout, feeling unappreciated, choosing family, health and well-being above demanding jobs, or wanting to do something more meaningful.


"The pandemic has given us pause and many have taken their time to reassess their lives," said Rob Barnett, author of "Next Job, Best Job" (Citadel).

That’s precisely what Vladi Kuschnerov, the former chief operating officer of a marketing intelligence tech firm based in Soho, did last year.

"Throughout the pandemic I thought about my purpose and whether I was giving back to society," he said. Without all the distractions in the office, "it became clear that what I was doing at work didn’t align with my mission."

Kuschnerov was planning to start his own company eventually, and the pandemic gave him the clarity to see that now was the time. He’d been thinking about the 5.4 percent of US households that are "unbanked" (without a checking or savings account). Many of these individuals regularly sacrifice a significant portion of their paychecks for money orders, check cashing and payday loans.

Kuschnerov resigned last summer and started his company, Vault, in November to address these concerns. "We plan to democratize access to the financial system while making it equitable, transparent and secure," he said.

Other workers who are contemplating handing in their notice might want to change their working conditions — like working from home permanently, or learning something new, or getting paid more, according to Taylor.

Others feel that they’ve been stuck in the same job or with the same employer for too long and now, with today’s labor shortage, they see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get exactly the job and the offer they want.

"Millennials understand that we have a birth rate problem and that there will be more jobs available than there are people to do them," said Taylor.

While that may put you in a wonderful position to pursue your dreams, experts warn that quitting your job just because new opportunities are abundant may not be your best move.

"Five jobs in seven years might not look good on your resume," said Taylor.

He added that the demand for workers tends to cycle, with employers alternatingly hiring and laying off, so if you change jobs too often, you could end up with the short end of the stick if your timing is off.

Not only that, but Laurie Ruettimann, author of "Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career" (Henry Holt and Co.) said that while a new job seems great, it might not be the answer.

"What ails you is most likely inside, not at another company," she said.If you’re truly miserable in your job, Barnett recommends the alarm clock test.

"If you wake up in the morning day after day asking if you really need to go to work again, you may need to leave," he said.


Plus, being mentally out the door "is a tortuous situation," said Ruettimann. "Nothing changes if you don’t take that initial risk, bet on yourself and put yourself first."


Do resign respectfully

"You should always offer as much notice as possible with an understanding that anything less than two weeks is super inconvenient to your current employer," said Laurie Ruettimann.

Don’t bluff

You are unlikely to get a counteroffer for you to stay, since "70 percent of resignations are non-regrettable [from the employer’s point of view]," said Johnny Taylor.

Do resign to your boss, rather than to HR

"Always respect the chain of command and resign to your immediate supervisor," said Ruettimann. "Let them figure out who needs to know next. That’s their job."

Do put yourself in your boss’s and co-workers’ shoes

"Promise that you will work hard and that you will not leave them in a lurch. And keep your promise," said Rob Barnett.

Don’t rage and dash out the door

"This is an important moment in your career," said Barnett. "People remember the way you leave, sometimes as much as they remember what you accomplished while you were there."