In addition to slowly clearing out her desk ahead of time and creating a training manual for the assistant who would be assuming her responsibilities, Adeeyo consulted with the HR department to discuss her options and plan for the best time to leave. She says she was advised to hold out for a certain amount of time to get another full month of benefits and that getting approval and guidance from HR in advance made it easier to leave on her own terms.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your HR department, Salemi suggests considering a few things to come up with your own plan for quitting and maximizing benefits. For example, are you expecting a bonus, and should you wait to resign until it’s been paid out? Is there a date you need hold out until for your company to match your 401k contribution or for your retirement benefits to vest? Do you get paid for unused personal days and vacation days, or should you try to use them up before you give notice?
Consider having a mediator join the meeting.
If you’re concerned your boss may have a belligerent reaction to your quitting or threaten to retaliate against you for leaving, Woodruff-Santos recommends reaching out to HR first. “Explain why you’re reaching out and that you want to be respectful and turn in your two weeks’ notice but you would feel more secure if you had someone with you when you turn in your notice to your manager.”
If you don’t have an existing relationship with HR, have had a negative experience with HR, or have reason not to trust HR at your job, Salemi recommends reaching out to the recruiter who hired you (if applicable). “Ask them who among HR you can trust so you’re not randomly selecting someone from the directory.” You can also ask any trustworthy co-workers if they have an HR contact they’d recommend.
You can also skip HR and ask someone else with seniority on your team or someone from another department to be a mediator. The key is finding someone you deeply trust who can participate in the conversation whether it’s in person, video, or phone, Salemi says.
If you’re seriously concerned about how the conversation might go, Woodruff-Santos suggests recording the conversation as long as you can legally do so: “Check and see if this is legal in your state, as some states have laws that say you can’t record without two-party consent, while others say it’s legal with one party’s consent.”
Be honest in your exit interview.
When leaving a toxic work environment, you may be ready to just start fresh and move on to the next thing. But if you’re offered an exit interview, it can be a good place to air any concerns you may have, especially if you have fears about retaliation, Woodruff-Santos says.
“If you share something that your manager or a colleague has done that’s made you feel uncomfortable or you consider to be harassment or discrimination in some form, and if later, you feel like they’ve retaliated against you in some way, that could be grounds for legal action, especially if they’re interfering with you getting work in the future,” Woodruff-Santos explains.
What if you love your boss and colleagues?
If you have a great relationship with your boss, the conversation about moving on can be one of the easiest conversations to have because there’s genuine respect there and they likely won’t be surprised that you’re moving on, Woodruff-Santos says. Your boss may have seen your move coming and will likely be sad to see you go, but they should also be excited for you.
“A good manager who understands leadership is going to expect people to move on and is going to have a game plan for backfilling roles,” Woodruff-Santos says.
Of course, you can’t control how your manager will react, so it’s good to still be prepared for the worst, Woodruff-Santos adds. Go into your meeting prepared to tell them the news, and feel free to have a more detailed and friendly conversation if you feel comfortable with them.
“Be as polite and as professional as you can be, and then let it go,” Woodruff-Santos says. “And don’t forget that thank-you cards never go out of style.”