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You simply can’t avoid it, employees often quit their job, it’s simply the circle of life. Resignations can range from euphoric to being full of anguish and there’s no real way to prepare for how an employee – or you – will feel when they take that first step of handing in their resignation.

Evidently, however, there is an underlying classification system to the way employees resign from their jobs and it’s a system that has remained in the fog until relatively recently.

Researchers, Anthony Klotz and Mark Bolino, set out to map the way in which employees resign from their jobs by interviewing several hundred individuals. In their report the authors found that employees typically use 1 of 7 different styles when resigning and it found that the 2 most common resignation styles were what they refer to as ‘by the book’ and ‘perfunctory’ resignations.

If you’ve been employing people for a while now, you may recognise some of these types below. But if you’ve yet to be on the receiving end, then here are the 7 ways found by Kiotz and Bolino, to help prepare you you for what you might be on the receiving end of….. 

  1. By the book
    By the book resignations involve a face-to-face meeting with one’s manager to announce the resignation, a standard notice period, and an explanation of the reason for quitting. Other names
  2. Grateful
    A discussion which focuses on the employee’s gratitude towards you, their employer (imagine a euphoric resignation where an employee is happily reflective of their employment with you). Sometimes you have to leave a job that you like to progress- or at least a team or boss that you’ve enjoyed working with – and in these cases, people want to make the process as painless as possible. This is what the researchers are calling the “Grateful Goodbyes” method, which 9% of job quitters use when leaving their position. It’s a positive and grateful way of bowing out, helping your old team deal with the loss and maintaining good relations in the future.
  3. In the loop
    The employee has already told you that they were thinking of leaving. Similar to Grateful Goodbyes, those “In the Loop,” are where you are aware that an employee will soon be leaving as they’ve shared the information first hand out of respect to you. Perhaps the employee is looking to switch career tracks, or is going on to further training — either way, you know that the individual isn’t going to stick around, and are therefore are prepared for the resignation. This occurs in 8% of cases.
  4. Perfunctory
    Similar to ‘by the book’, but the discussion is shorter and no explanation is given. You know the ones: you walk in and find a letter on your desk and despite asking, as an employer you never get a true sense of why the person is resigning. This means employees follow the basic framework of the “By the Book” method, but do so very carefully with an almost surgical precision, and do not elaborate as to why they made the decision to quit. I also call it the “It’s-not-you, it’s-me” way of quitting a job. And we all know what that really means….
  5. Avoidant
    The employee resigns in writing, tells your HR Manager and allows the words to filter back to you. The “Avoidant” method is the most passive-aggressive way of resigning and is essentially like breaking up with your partner over text message. Employees send in their notice or resignation through HR or a third party, maybe even over the weekend, and then avoid seeing you and/or the wider team. Nobody likes an awkward breakup, and avoiding the other party can make it easier — though it’s a bit of a cop out.
  6. Impulsive
    In this situation, the employee walks out without notice, forethought or explanation. Have you ever been pushed too far and just snapped? In 4% of cases surveyed, the researchers found people have simply had enough, blow their fuse and walk out. Typically, it’s the result of some long-simmering frustrations or underlying tension that finally reached a boiling point. There’s no notice, simply a few choice words from the employee (normally at a high volume), shortly followed by them storming out of the office! Having seen several people ‘quit’ in this fashion, only to them return sheepishly (or in some cases, still indignantly!) the following morning – be cautious about accepting whether this is genuinely a ‘resignation’, which normally needs to be in writing ( emails are fine).
  7. Bridge burning
    This is the worst-case scenario. In these situations, the employee attempts to harm your, the staff or the company’s reputation as they exit the business. Though similar to impulsive quitting, “Bridge Burning” is less explosive, but every bit as dangerous. Be very cautious when you have an employee who exits the business in this manner, with tools such as Glassdoor at the tip of their fingertips your reputation can be tainted within a matter of minutes of an employee leaving.

In my experience, a 8th one could also be added, which could be summarised as ‘Ghosting’: one day they’re there and the next they don’t turn up, don’t answer calls and you don’t see hide nor hair of them until you spot a Facebook post of them looking happy with their new team many months later….

If you’re need some help with ensuring that your business is fighting fit for the year ahead, then get in touch via or call 0203 627 7048 to chat about your HR needs.

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Flickr: Woodleywonderworks, Final Day