should you ask resigning employees to leave immediately?

A reader writes:

If an employee puts in their notice, should you always let them work through the end date they have given? I think it’s fairly common for an employee to be walked out if they are going to a direct competitor. However, what if the concern is that they will be a distraction during their remaining time?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Dealing with a distracted manager
  • Interviewer was dismissive and contemptuous
  • Changing my desired salary range after learning more about a job
  • Asking for a raise when my company isn’t giving them this year

{ 115 comments… read them below }

  1. Edith*

    We would be absolutely lost if we dismissed people who gave notice. In a workplace full of one person departments those two weeks are vital for training coworkers on your job so they can do it until your replacement is hired and train your replacement. I imagine this is less of a determining factor at places where many people know how to do your job already.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Less, maybe, but not non-existent. I had heavy, heavy cross-training and documentation for my position when I left it a couple years ago.

      And the two weeks of wrap-up time were still invaluable. Wrapping up a current nearly-done project, handing off one that had just been getting off the ground, determining who would take over each area I normally covered – and giving them a chance to review their memories and knowledge, dig in a bit, and ask any questions they felt they needed to.

      Probably only a week and a half of the two weeks was actually necessary, but the extra time gave people leave to think about things a bit, and also to get their own work done without having to focus on picking mine up rapidly.

      That said, if I’d accepted a job at a direct competitor, I suspect I’d have been out the door the same day I resigned. I was going to a company in an unrelated industry, so that wasn’t a consideration.

    2. Barney Barnaby*

      Exactly. It does not just damage moral, but also the lives and working environments of everyone who now has to do that job.

      While there is often not time to hire and train someone else in two weeks, the departing employee can at least wrap up projects, make a transition plan, notify other internal and external co-workers and clients, and generally smooth things out.

    3. harry*

      Another exception to the rule of keeping someone for the timeframe of their end date are new employees. If someone was still in training in the first month per se, I don’t see any reason to keep them there another 2 weeks.

  2. MWKate*

    We generally don’t immediately dismiss people who have given notice – except in very specific circumstances. And can I please strongly agree with not walking people out like a criminal? There is nothing worse than watching someone pack up their desk under the eye of HR and get perp walked out the door.

    1. Callalily*

      I would’ve cried if I was perp walked… but instead they made me wait until everyone left at 5pm to clear up my desk and leave. Everyone still thinks I was fired because no one knew I was leaving and all my stuff was gone in the morning.

      1. Arielle*

        I’m pretty sure there are some people at my last job who think I was fired. What actually happened was that I gave two weeks notice to my manager on a Thursday, told the team Friday after work, and then came in Monday to find out that my manager had been fired over the weekend. At that point she was the only person at the management structure I had any loyalty left for, so I marched into the CTO and told him that given the circumstances, I thought it would be best if this was my last day. I was at home in my pajamas by 2 pm and I’m sure it looked from the outside like I had been fired after giving notice.

      2. Windchime*

        This is what happened to me as well. I gave my notice on a Friday. On Monday, I sent an email to the entire team letting them know that I had resigned (I was working from home on Monday as I always did). On Tuesday, I was notified in a very humiliating way that I should not come back to work. They paid me for my notice period but they made it look like I was fired by cutting off my access and packing up what was left of my personal items.

        Funny thing was, the managers had one of my ex-coworkers call me and ask me about the Penske file. Hmmmm. Sorry, I don’t remember. After all, I thought I had two weeks to tie up my loose ends.

        If I needed another reason to think that my manager was a jerk (and isn’t going to change!), then this would have been it. They did it just to make sure I knew who was in charge.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Yeah that part wasn’t pleasant. When I got let go from my last job as my job was eliminated due to budget cutbacks I got escorted right to my car. Pretty insulting but typical of the hostile environment there. They still had to pay me the severance package. Only time in my career a union was useful – we had a fantastic severance package defined in the collective agreement.

      In IT this does tend to happen a lot but it’s like other posters have already said – any foul play would have already happened. Never could understand why people would burn bridges like that.

      1. Honeybee*

        This is my thing. If I am leaving voluntarily and have malevolent plans in mind, I’m just going to do whatever I plan to do before I give notice. I’m not an idiot. So to me it makes no sense to terminate someone on the day they give notice, even if they are going to a competitor.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      When I quit my first post-college job, I was perp-walked by both my manager and the HR rep. I tried to pack as many of my belongings as I could before announcing my departure (knowing that I’d be escorted out) but I didn’t have a box so I could only get some of my things. I never got the rest back.

      My manager escorted me to HR where I went through an exit interview (this is before I knew I could refuse it, but I was happy to provide the reasons for my departure). I was then escorted to the door.

      It was humiliating. I didn’t give two weeks’ notice, but even if I had, I probably would still have been immediately perp-walked. They only allowed the people they liked to stay for two weeks.

    4. Jamey*

      Keep in mind, though, that the connotation is different if it’s done for everyone as a manner of policy. My best friend’s old job was like this – once you put in your “two weeks notice,” you were immediately done and walked off the premises (and paid for your last two weeks). Since it was known policy, someone getting walked out didn’t seem like a criminal – and when she put in her notice, she was completely prepared for it to be her last day.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that they DIDN’T perp walk you. It happened to me at Old and NewExjobs. Granted, it was nice to have help carrying stuff out, but still. Gah.

      One time, I got suspended at an old job because of a performance issue (it was during a serious bout of depression), and they not only perp walked me, but they made me go down the back stairs as though I were contagious. But that company was known for massive overreactions to anything. One time someone emailed a coworker and made a joke about another department (nothing offensive). The coworker squealed to someone in that department, and they made the sender apologize via email to the entire company, many of whom did not even know what she was even talking about.

      And another time, someone got laid off but the CEO announced it in the all-company meeting. While she was still working there. And no one told her beforehand. It was like, “We have to eliminate a position in X Department. We’ve decided it’s to be Cordelia’s. Thanks for all your hard work, Cordelia!” You should have seen her face–and everybody else was like, WTF.

      1. Sas*

        “Granted, it was nice to have help carrying stuff out” The upside.

        “One time, I got suspended at an old job because of a performance issue (it was during a serious bout of depression), and they not only perp walked me, but they made me go down the back stairs as though I were contagious” That is awful. Awful

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Agree 100%! I can’t believe we still do that here, as well as dismiss people immediately and not let them work their notice period. I’ve only seen them let one person work their two week notice, they were a receptionist. Everyone else is marched out as if you’re going to steal the customer database or sabotage something else. I hear they’ve been burned by a couple former employees in the past, but it’s still largely paranoia. And nobody has left for a direct competitor since I’ve been here. They (upper management) also take it personally as if “how dare you leabe us” and talk smack about the departed person and start saying they were never that great or never like them anyhow.

    7. PK*

      At least you got to pack your desk! The last company I worked for did immediately end employment if you gave notice and they knew you were leaving for a competitor. You didn’t get to pack your stuff either. HR or your manager packed everything up and you had to come back to get it another day.

    8. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I’ve been perp walked out, and it was one of my most embarrassing experiences. After my dismissal, the manager followed me around while I gathered my personal items. Pardon me, but are you concerned that I will make off with the paper clips or throw soup at a director?

  3. ceiswyn*

    As an employee, I’m always bemused by employers’ desire to get leaving employees off their premises as soon as possible.

    a) It doesn’t prevent them stealing industrial secrets or sabotaging projects, because in the highly unlikely event they wanted to do such a thing they could easily have done so during the time between deciding to leave and giving notice.
    b) Handover. For pity’s sake, what do some executives seem to have against project handover? I’ve been at several companies where critical projects were delayed or clients were lost because employees weren’t given a chance to brief their successor or send them critical files before they left. And their work couldn’t be recovered from their computers because they’d been immediately wiped.
    c) Maybe people leaving isn’t great for morale; but do you know what’s even worse for morale? Your colleagues vanishing around you like they’re being taken away in the night by the secret police.

    Am I missing something?

    1. Callalily*

      C) was my workplace when I left… I had to wait until everyone left at 5pm to clear up my desk and leave without anyone knowing I quit! Everyone assumed it was an end-of-day surprise firing because that morning my desk was empty.

    2. turquoisecow*

      A) is absolutely my thought as well. It’s not like leaving to go to a direct competitor was a shock to them. If they wanted to pass on secrets, they could have easily passed them on already, either by sending them directly to their new company or copying it to their personal files, and they probably have plenty of knowledge in their mind that they’re not going to forget just by walking out the door now instead of in 2 weeks. This was standard procedure at my employer as well, and it never made sense.

    3. Joseph*

      There’s also:
      (D) Misinformation. Other employees have no clue what happened and may assume a firing/layoff (which might lead to them questioning their own job security, particularly if you were generally liked/high performing). Or they might not realize anything at all, which can backfire spectacularly when current employees try to redirect a client to a former employee.
      (E) Disorganization. When people are asked to leave immediately, they will generally get their own personal stuff and then leave everything else in the exact state of mess it was before. So now it becomes someone else’s job to sort through all of that and/or that stuff gets totally ignored even if it’s time-sensitive or project-critical.

    4. Windchime*

      c) — You’re absolutely right about this. My Grand-boss said that they were booting me out because it would be disruptive to the team to have me work my notice. Did he seriously think that it would NOT be disruptive to have me just stop showing up as if I didn’t exist? I was still in touch with some people on the team and they were seriously freaked out about it.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      You forgot vanishing around you and then they think you won’t notice and never announce anything.

    6. Honeybee*

      We recently had someone leave our team for a competitor, and within 10-15 minutes of giving notice he said he was contacted by HR/IT about wiping his machine. This person had put in months and months of work for a crucial feature we were releasing in just a few weeks. He had to chase HR/IT down to ask them to just give him a dang hour so he could hand off the important parts to teammates!

      I was relatively new when he left – just shy of a year. It didn’t hurt my morale at all to see him leave (I liked him a lot and was sad to see him go but happy that he moved onto a great position somewhere else). It hurt my morale to see him treated the way he was when he left – he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and basically just ghosted into the night. And quite frankly, that reflected more darkly on my employer than him leaving did.

    7. MillersSpring*

      See Alison’s comment below. A common issue is influence over decisions and clients, as well as access to information, such as strategic planning. If someone is a director or VP, you probably don’t want them influencing project direction, vendor decisions, budget planning, hearing about new deals, etc. You might spend only a few hours going through their project list and that’s it.

      Same for a sales rep–you don’t want someone who’s declared that they’re leaving to continue as the face of the company to your valued clients and prospects.

      1. Ceiswyn*

        But conversely, you do want them to tell somebody where they’re currently at with said valued clients and prospects!

        Which is worse; someone who’s leaving continuing as the face of the company for a few days, or losing a client because the person they have a relationship with vanishes along with all the details they’ve hammered out together and they have to start over?

        One company I know of made half our professional services team redundant and had them leave immediately without handover. These were people who managed highly technical projects that took months to set up. Unsurprisingly, the affected clients were not best pleased to discover that months of work had been wiped out completely.

  4. Emi.*

    What’s the point of having people leave right away if they’re going to a direct competitor–to prevent sabotage? (Is that common?)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Preventing them from leaving with client lists or other trade secrets, although it’s never made a ton of sense to me because, as ceiswyn points out above, if someone wants to steal that stuff, they’ll just do it before giving notice.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Although to be fair, I suspect there’s just a psychological thing about it — you wouldn’t have an employee of your competitor walking your offices and hanging out in your meetings, and so once someone is for all intents and purposes now your competitor’s employee, it feels weird to have them doing those things.

          1. Is it Friday Yet?*

            I used to work in the casino industry, and this is a very common practice. I witnessed it multiple times, and it even happened to me once. In that industry, people really don’t think negatively of the employer or the person being walked because it’s so common.

      2. animaniactoo*

        I think it depends on the context. There’s stuff at my job that you can’t walk out with because you’d need to be able to access it in place in order to do your job as you work out your notice period.

        I can definitely say that there is proprietary stuff here where it is far better to trust nobody rather than pick and choose or blind trust just because you trusted them while they worked for you. Yeah, there’s ways to get some of it out and the company’s been burned a few times. But there’s some that’s not, and protecting what they can to the best of their ability, acknowledging the foibles of human nature and all that, just seems smart to me.

        To take that off on a side tangent, for me it’s more along the lines of how I view birth control. You don’t want to have a kid? Then you don’t ever ever ever trust somebody else to take care of it. Because the results are too big to deal with if it turns out that you misjudged. Or there was an accident. Or whatever. You’re the one this matters to so much, and putting the responsibility in somebody else’s hands is too much to ask of them. Maybe you’d have judged right every time and you’d never have gotten burned. But it’s a risk you don’t need to take when the impact of it going wrong is so big, so don’t do it.

        So I really think it depends on more context than just “You trusted them yesterday and they were a professional then”. You have to assess how big an impact risk it is that you might misjudge the situation, and work from there on this kind of policy.

      3. Turtle Candle*

        I’ve always wondered about that too. I am an ethical human being and would not steal my company’s proprietary source code under any circumstances (short of, I don’t know, some crazy spy movie “we have your cats. send us the source code or the kitty gets it!” scenario, which seems deeply unlikely, especially for my industry). But if I was going to do that, wouldn’t I just take it and then give notice?

        1. Nell*

          ” send us the source code or the kitty gets it!”

          …That’s a Liam Neeson movie I’d like to see.

      4. InfoGeek*

        It’s not just the “stuff” that they’ve had access to, you don’t necessarily want them to be part of discussions of future plans, implementations, etc., any more than they have been.

        You can’t erase the past, but you don’t have to give them more information to take with them.

        Plus, even with ethical people, it’s better for them not to know than to know and have to not use the information.

        1. Honeybee*

          So why not just exclude them from any meetings of that nature after they give notice? Refocus their work during the last two weeks to be solely transitional in nature, and prevent them from attending any meetings.

  5. JustAnotherHRPro*

    #2 – Can and should leave a Glassdoor review of your interview. I always read the Glassdoor reviews before I go to apply for a job with a company I am not familiar with (I rarely apply for a job with a bad company review rating), and if I have an interview set up I always try to read reviews of the interview process. Its not an exact science but it gives you an idea of what you are dealing with.

  6. seejay*

    We had someone leave that was snagged out by a competitor, and it was done really sneakily and with bad intentions and very crookedly. He thought he was being coy about it and claimed he had signed a NDA about who had hired him when he gave his 2 week notice when asked out of curiosity about where he was leaving to, but people had suspicions based on a few other hints that went around. No one walked him out the door and he finished his two weeks out since there wasn’t anything he could take with him that he couldn’t have already snagged before he gave his resignation anyway, but I will admit, there was some side-eye glances and people having very guarded conversations around him. The company that he left for (our suspicions were confirmed within a few weeks) have been trying some pretty shady crap with us since he left and it would actually be pretty infuriating if it actually wasn’t so laughable.

  7. gwal*

    as a relatively young member of the workforce who has only worked for one company in the private sector, i’d love to learn what the differences are between companies that require non-compete agreements and companies that find other ways to protect their clients and internal processes (i personally feel that paying market rates and fostering an organized, cooperative workplace should be enough, but the existence of NC clauses and this comment thread’s description of employees being frog-marched out to protect data clearly indicate that employers aren’t always of a similar opinion)

    1. sunny-dee*

      A non-compete isn’t necessarily a sign of an abusive environment. I work in software (not an engineer, just with a software company). I do not have a non-compete except for freelance work. However, engineers do, in that they cannot go to another company and work on a similar product. A lot of the working knowledge — major customers and infrastructure environments, bugs, feature requests, the code, the roadmap, etc — are crucial to the projects and something that you just learn naturally working on it. The only way to protect that internal stuff is to have a non-compete that you can’t go work *on a similar project* for a year after you leave.

      1. gwal*

        hmm, sorry, i didn’t mean to imply that I thought NC is always abusive. the logic I understand, but it can feel stifling when such a clause is written vaguely or extends for multiple years

        1. animaniactoo*

          I have a 2-year non-compete. That’s about how long it would take for my knowledge of what my company is currently working on and what relationships they have, who their contacts at external partners, and so on to become largely irrelevant.

          It can be somewhat stifling, but really what it means is that I can still work within the industry, I’d just have to switch product lines to ones that my current company does not produce, even if their direct competitor is trying to get into those product lines. I could work on something else at direct competitor, but not that.

          1. Gadfly*

            Of course there is the infamous Jimmy John’s version that tried to rule out working anywhere with sandwiches (including burgers) for years… some are more reasonable than others

            1. animaniactoo*

              lmao. I missed that one. I’ll have to go Google it later.

              I believe the most recent version at my company states that you can’t work for a direct competitor for 6 months after you leave, and you can’t work on the same product line for 2 years.

              However, given that some of the “direct competitors” are other companies who have their own product lines, but are trying to gain a foothold in the ones my company has, I think they’d have a legality problem if they tried to stop someone from going to one of those companies to make oh… tea cozies instead of teapots.

              1. sstabeler*

                I’d say there’s two extremes:
                1) if it’s more like the “gardening leave” you see in the banking industry- where you are paid to sit at home doing no work. If they are paying you- at your usual salary- then they can do pretty much whatever they want (particularly since it’s routine in the banking industry, so you won’t get an offer pulled because of it- a period of “gardening leave” to make sure any offer got pulled is not really reasonable.
                2) if it’s “you can’t compete with us” then it comes under greater scrutiny. basically, a non-compete cannot be used as a weapon to force people to stay.

                1. Zombii*

                  #2 is at least half the point of a non-compete. What’s this “cannot”?

                  Is #1 stating that there is an industry that will pay you for the duration of your non-compete? If there’s any truth to that at all, I may have to switch industries.

                2. sstabeler*

                  basically, a non-compete can’t be used to force you to leave the industry if you want to get a new job.
                  #1 occasionally happens. the idea is that since investment banking has historically been dependant on personal relationships between bankers and clients ( it’s the reason why there has historically been a lot of hospitality offered by bankers to their clients- building the relationship.) and so they literally pay a departing employee to sit at home to both allow them try to retain said banker’s clients and so that the departing banker will be 6-odd months out of date with the latest happenings in the markets.
                  with #2, basically, non-competes are designed to prevent competition based on private information you have access to as an employee. a departing employee might set up doing something similar- that’s tough luck. but you can legitimately ( for example) prevent an employee, knowing that a large amount of business will be up for grabs soon, leaving to found a company so they can take advantage of that information.

        2. Honeybee*

          I think vaguely written and/or very long non-compete clauses are largely unenforceable. But “very long” and “vaguely written” are judged by the judge in the case, often. Apparently NCs that are 1-2 years long are usually enforceable in states where NCs are legal.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          As a practical matter, most states will not enforce an NC clause that extends beyond 2 years (this of course varies widely by state, industry, and the former employee’s role at OldCompany). At bottom, NC clauses are monopolistic/anti-competitive, even if a company has rational reasons for wanting them.

          Employers know that their insanely vague or broad NC is not enforceable, but they cram all their wants into the agreement hoping that either (a) the employee won’t know enough to know the clause is unenforceable, or (b) it will take so long to litigate, that by the time a case is settled the term of the NC agreement will have already run out. Also, just as a general matter, writing a broad/vague NC clause is not helpful to the company because if it’s overly broad a court won’t enforce it, even if the length is otherwise reasonable.

          All that said, it’s not inherently sketchy to have NC clauses, and it doesn’t really tell you much about the company. It tells you more about the company’s lawyers (who might be in-house, but are probably hired externally), or about a level of “laziness” when drafting employment agreements. For example, I’ve seen companies with offices in multiple states simply include in all employee contracts a super restrictive NC that’s from the state that gives them the most leeway, even if there’s no way that NC clause could apply to an employee in another state.

        4. Tau*

          I have a non-compete where I think parts of it make sense but parts of it are over-reaching. E.g.: my company provides professional services to clients (so I go work at a client site on a client project for the client, but am still an employee of my company), and I have a non-compete barring me from going to work directly for a client I’ve been at that way for a year after I leave. This makes sense because it’s a business connection I only got through them and doing that would do direct damage to their business. Less reasonable is a geographic non-compete barring me from working for competitors within a certain distance of their office. Depending on how you define competitors, that might actually require people to leave the area entirely if they want to continue working in the same field, and I’m not sure it would hold up in court.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Market or above market rate isn’t always enough. I know of two cases where people who were well-paid (and well treated!) decided they could supplement their pay by selling proprietary information to a competitor- and in one case, to a foreign competitor, putting the company at risk for federal charges.

      It’s not healthy or true that you need to distrust all your employees, but it’s also not healthy and true to think that just because everyone is paid and treated well, no one will want to do something underhanded.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Infamously, there was the salesman at my company who sourced different licenses, signed personal agreements with them, and went into business for himself making the same products my company makes (or variations so similar as to make no difference) with those licenses and then proceeded to sell them to his retail accounts alongside the company products he was hired to sell. That was the start of the NDA/NC requirement here.

    3. Temperance*

      I think it’s really industry-dependent. One of my friends runs a business providing a very special service that can only be legally provided by those with an advanced degree. (Being vague on purpose, since it’s very niche.) She has her employees sign NC agreements that geographically limit the area that the employees can work in after leaving her company. It’s how business is done in their industry. The skills necessary and services provided are such that anyone leaving her company will be in direct competition.

    4. Anon for now*

      There have been rumors off and on at Current Office about putting certain high-level staff on noncompetes, which would definitely include me. Last time I thought they were serious about it, I was considering resigning rather than signing it – I don’t like having my options limited and that NC would effectively boot me out of my niche business that I really like until the NC expired.

      So far, they seem to have decided not to go that route and I’m happy about that.

  8. beachlover*

    sounds like the interview in # 3, has seen “The Devil wears Prada” too many times. Unless she actually was Diana Vreeland.

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      I had a similar thought.
      Someone in LW #3’s situation could mention to HR that the interviewer stated they “don’t know why you were even referred by HR”. Using a tone/approach that indicates that “hey, there might be a disconnect between HR’s expectations and Hiring Manager’s requirements for a suitable candidate.”

      If the hiring manager is on a Devil Wears Prada trip, HR are probably aware of that attitude and will catch on to what you likely encountered in the interview.
      If the hiring manager is not usually a smug, condescending belittler they can follow up to clarify expectations for the role being filled.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      Right?! I don’t know what I would have done, but I would have wanted to say “should we reschedule, it seems like this is not a good time for you”. And then walked over to HR and asked wtf.

    3. Dragon_Heart*

      I encountered this kind of interviewer ( the hiring manager ) who was almost exactly like the LW described. All she did was to keep telling me she doesn’t think I am qualified to be a teapot maker. Granted I only had a year of experience then, but I really can’t understand why she was wasting both our time conducting the interview in the first place. The bad part was that I just got laid off and needed the money badly that time, so I grit my teeth and just rode it out.

      The kicker is that the salary they offer was much lower than my previous pay, although not by much.

  9. Corl*

    I think that if you don’t NEED the employee to stay and there is no strong reason to push them out the door – give them the option!

    I have always given 2 weeks notice HOPING my boss would throw me out that very second… I always did my best during my final 2 weeks but I would’ve liked a good break between my last day there and my first day at my new job, or even starting earlier at my new job. I also couldn’t stand my coworkers excluding me like I was a traitor for 2 weeks.

    This topic should also serve as a reminder to only give as much notice as necessary… you don’t want to be the nice guy giving your notice 6 weeks in advance and be kicked out way too early.

    1. Natalie*

      For whatever it’s worth, assuming you can afford to take the time unpaid you can always tell your new employer you need three weeks and then give your old employer two weeks’ notice. The week break really is nice.

  10. AFB*

    My manager was a nightmare when it came to people leaving my team. The team reported into me but my manager had final say on most things and micromanaged me managing. Everyone HAD to work their full notice. Even if they’d ask to shorten it and there was no reason not to allow them to. Or if they were causing a toxic environment, or if we didn’t even have work for them to do. She was more concerned with making sure that they worked every second they were paid for than the effect it would have on the rest of the team. Then she would insist i had to keep a close eye on them and sample their work everyday to make sure that they were still being productive and we were getting our moneys worth, and if they weren’t (most of the time) I had to hold long performance reviews with them, even if it was their last day! It would leave me pretty much no time to spend rest of the team, or my own work and just created a horrible atmosphere for everyone and of course.. resulted in more people leaving! Thank god I was one of those people.

    1. AFB*

      Oh and if it wasn’t obvious; I also had to ‘escort them out’ on their last day AND search their bag. Because they would of course wait until the last day of their notice period to steal all of our confidential files. I tried to push back on the bag searching and my boss insisted that I had to do it. No other department in the business treated people like that. It was one of the few instructions she gave which i outright ignored.

    2. Zombii*

      Was she not aware that you don’t have to pay people for their notice period if they don’t work it or was there some weird policy in your company that said workers had to be paid their full notice?

  11. WhateverAndAgain*

    The last few times I’ve clicked on the INC links, they always load a blank page that says, “To read this article and more great content, please log in or create an account” but when I open the link in an incognito browser, it goes right to the article??

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you’re outside the U.S. or have an ad blocker, they let you read a few without logging in, but after that they’ll ask you to. If you’re in the U.S. and don’t have an ad blocker (or turn it off for their site), that shouldn’t happen.

        1. Emi.*

          Incognito mode clears your cookies, effectively resetting your “a few” count. Alison, does that affect how you get paid for these pieces?

          1. paul*

            That’s a neat trick that works on a lot of sites that do similar paywalls. I’ve tried disabling ad blocker on Inc., since I have no problems with ads in theory, but frankly the ads that popped up were incredibly intrusive so I turned it back on.

            No, giant ad that covers half the article and doesn’t have a readily visible close button, I’m not clicking you. I don’t know what malware you’re hiding.

      1. Sarah*

        I turned off my adblocker for Inc and the first Inc page I loaded immediately crashed my work computer (likely due to the video ads). So unfortunately I can’t read those articles at work :(

        1. paul*

          Similar experience. I get the importance of ad revenue and don’t begrudge ads on a site, but when they crash my browser, physically make the content hard to read, randomly pop up, etc…yeah, that’s why I run adblocker. and Inc has had ads that do *all* of those things.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      It’s either your adblocker, or the cookies on your browser. I just turn off my adblocker when I want to read articles on Inc.

  12. Tax Accountant*

    I gave 2 weeks notice after working somewhere for 3 years. I was basically given a box and told to not let the door hit me on the way out. I wasn’t paid for my notice period, but it would have looked unprofessional on my part to quit without giving notice, so I was kind of screwed. I didn’t want to burn bridges, so I just packed up my desk and left quietly. It was just sad. I liked a lot of things about working there, but they treat people so awfully when they leave. I was not going to a competitor, either. In some situations I think its fine to tell people to just get out, like when an employee is someone with a toxic attitude, but I liked everyone, was well liked, and left on good terms. It just lowers morale to see someone treated like that, I think. It also kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Where I work now, when people leave, they are given a farewell party and wished well. It’s such a different culture.

  13. Tiny_Tiger*

    As someone who just gave their two-weeks notice, unless you have a REALLY, REALLY good reason to push that person out the door, don’t do it. Things along the lines of abusive behavior, harassment, and theft are more than understandable when someone needs to be out the door right that second. And even then, unless the employee is belligerent there is no reason to have them escorted out. It’s humiliating and doesn’t send a very good sign to your other employees. When one of my former coworkers gave his notice and they told him to leave, I was livid for him because he was a good guy and never caused grief in the office. It forever tainted the way I viewed my boss(es). It crossed my mind dozens upon dozens of times that they would do the same to me once I gave my notice.

    1. Yvaine*

      I had a job that walked people out immediately upon giving notice. It was humiliating for everyone and all it did was give me incentive to lie about my reason for leaving. No way was I actually going to tell them that I was leaving because they just wouldn’t stop breaking laws, so I told them I was going back to school and gave 4 weeks notice.

      1. Yvaine*

        I feel I should mention that I did actually go back to school but only part-time and I could have kept my job if it hadn’t been so awful.

      2. Tiny_Tiger*

        I would ask how companies think that doing something like doesn’t hurt morale for the remaining employees, but places like that don’t seem to care much about employee morale in the first place.

        1. Yvaine*


          Unfortunately this place preyed on inexperienced employees and had most of them convinced that all of their horrible behavior was normal.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have that question and I also want to know why companies think no one talks about this. It goes right through a community, “well liked person got marched out of company x” or ” company x humiliates their people when they give notice.” The surrounding community is very much aware of how people are treated.

          A family member lives near a famous person with a well known tv show. It’s widely known in the community that Famous Person treats people in the community like garbage. Why do people at the top of heap think they are immune? Oh. right. Money.

  14. The Southern Gothic*

    Being walked out happened to me at OldJob right after I gave my 2 week notice. OldBoss and HR cited “employee sabotage” for the reason I could not work through to the end of my notice period. They did not pay me for my entire notice period, instead they paid me to the end of the week I gave notice – this put me down a week’s pay, but was par for the course.

    Upon reflection, I wondered if the walking out part was meant to make everyone look like they were fired, regardless of the real reason for leaving. This could serve to feed into the narrative of the company culture of intimidating, overworking and devaluing it’s entry level employees. OldJob was a horrible sweatshop culture that treated its entry level employees like they were untrustworthy children or criminals and gave off the vibe that we were disposable, lucky to have a job and did us a favor with whatever sh**ty pay they deigned to give us.

    What I could have “sabotaged” at an overcrowded, locked-down call center in a literally transparent “fishbowl” setup of 15 other people with a camera pointed at my back all day long is still a mystery.

    I had a Glassdoor rant all ready about the crap conditions, crap pay and crap managers, but by the time I gave my notice I decided they didn’t deserve my time, energy or space in my brain any longer.

  15. introvert*

    My first professional job out of college, the owners used to take resignations VERY personally. They treated us like garbage, they were verbally abusive to say the least. I resigned after 2 years (I got a similar job in a different city that paid double my measly salary) and when I handed in my carefully worded, friendly resignation letter the owner said, “I have nothing to say to you, get out of my office, you’re a disrespectful, ungrateful loser and you’ll never have it better than you do here.” I gave 2 weeks and they “walked me out” the day after I gave my notice – didn’t even let me hand my projects over. My coworkers were all told it was my choice to leave that early and that I didn’t care about them enough to hand over my projects in good order.

    They walked everyone out on their last day – we joked that they’d walk you out, and instead of going to the parking lot, they’d walk you over to the conservation land behind the office, shoot you in the back, and leave you to sink into the swamp. “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

    1. The Southern Gothic*

      Would anyone care to explain why some employers do this? I am genuinely interested in the mentality behind bullying someone to stay employed somewhere they are clearly eager to separate from.

      I had the same experience as Introvert at a Mom & Pop (actual husband and wife owners) place I worked at for A WEEK.
      A better offer from another interview came though a couple days after I started, so I went to go resign in person. The female owner gave me a giant, yelling ration of s**t about loyalty and professionalism. I stood up, told her I would not be coming back from lunch and she could mail my check to the address on my app.

      1. introvert*

        My experience was at a company owned by a husband and wife as well. And we had a number of people who quit by leaving at lunch and never coming back! Haha. Perhaps it was the same company, I’m glad to hear no one shot you in the swamp out back. :)

        Once a very shy and quiet woman quit and they walked her out and for whatever reason it got really aggressive, and she ended up standing outside in the parking lot for ten full minutes just holding up her 2 middle fingers (like John Cusack in Say Anything but with double middle fingers instead of a boom box). It was a sight to behold out my prison window*!

        *cubicle window

        1. TCO*

          My husband also quit a job at a husband/wife-owned office by not coming back after lunch! I was horrified, but the husband owner was totally understanding of it somehow.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Ohohoh, it could be worse. When my sister was in high school, she got a job at a store in the next town over, and had clearly said ahead of time what her availability was. “Oh, OK,” the owner said, “how about you work [time that she wasn’t available].” My sister politely reiterated that she couldn’t work that day of the week. Cue a massive rant about how terrible she was, etc. etc. And she hadn’t even worked there yet.

        Needless to say, the owner was informed that it wouldn’t work out, and my sister went on to get a different job where her bosses acted like normal people.

      3. really?*

        This is not the same. Working for 2 days and then quitting for something “better” is a bridge burner. While the owner could have behaved differently you were the one causing the issue.

        1. PK*

          I don’t think it’s a bridge burner but even if they viewed it as one, the experience is so short that it’d never actually be on a resume. They could have let her go after the first two days if it wasn’t working for them. She has the same option.

        2. The Southern Gothic*

          My career never needed that “bridge” and I disagree that it caused the employer any real problems.
          Had they invested any time or training in me, I might understand any push back, but her outburst was completely beyond the pale in any case. It was a few days that never went on my resume.

          This same company had a sign next to their punch clock that said something to the effect of:
          “You may only punch in AFTER you have:
          Eaten Breakfast
          Applied Makeup
          Taken a smoke break

          When I asked the male owner about these rules, he just shrugged and said “we’ve been burned before”.
          That got my spidey senses up about how awful this place was.

          1. Honeybee*

            Well, it doesn’t matter that they hadn’t invested any training in you yet. Hiring is expensive, and when a company settles on a candidate, they may cut their second and third choices loose. If they then have to go back into hiring mode just a week after you start, the pool of candidates may be depleted – other choices may have accepted other offers – and they have to start from scratch. Not to mention that the work continues to go undone while they have to start over again, or other coworkers have to continue to take up the slack when they thought they wouldn’t have to.

            Obviously the owner shouldn’t have yelled at you – that’s unprofessional – but it’s generally not seen as good form to quit very soon after you are hired for a better offer.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Totally agree with Honey Bee and “really?” Two years vs. two days is really not analogous, and in most industries it’s not super profesh to quit so soon after starting. Again, it’s absolutely unacceptable to yell at you, and the co-owner was wrong to do it, but there aren’t really any good actors in this example.

            1. Zombii*

              Also agree. In what world is it not a bridge-burner to quit after 2 days? Especially for a reason like getting a better offer—that means you essentially never stopped job searching after accepting the job.

              (I understand that the company was intended to be the villain and the poster was intended to be the hero and that was the entire point of the post.)

      4. Turtle Candle*

        I used to work for a place with a tendency to lay down MASSIVE guilt trips on people leaving, too–and it was also a husband-and-wife owner situation, with a son as the heir apparent. Smallish business but not all that small; around a hundred employees, maybe.

        I’m sure there are plenty of smallish family-owned businesses that are perfectly functional, but I do think there’s an increased likelihood when you have that kind of family (and especially family-legacy) business to start to tie up your feelings about the business with your feelings about family… and then to get blindsided by the realization that, yeah, actually, the people not part of the family are just treating it as an ordinary job. For them the business is almost a part of the family, and they wouldn’t abandon it any more easily than they’d abandon beloved Aunt Mabel–and if they aren’t careful, they can project that, and then make unreasonable assumptions about the moral state or “loyalty” of people for whom it is, quite reasonably, just a job.

        (The other place where I see this is startups, where the founder/owner and other immediate stakeholders will pretty much throw their entire lives into the business… and may not realize that when they get other employees who do not have the same, quite literal, “stake” in it, those employees really don’t have the same incentive to open a metaphorical vein for their startup. Once again, it’s a “why don’t you love my baby as much as I do?” problem: well, because it’s not my baby. It’s your baby.)

  16. Misclassified*

    When I give notice in two weeks, I fully expect to be asked to leave that day despite me making up one quarter of their professional degree workforce (the other 3/4 being a coequal and the two owner-bosses). I’ve already confirmed that, while I have keys to the office, they’ve changed the alarm code the entire office shared, meaning that I can no longer arm or disarm the alarm.

    But then again, we’ve had a very… Strained relationship since July when they learned I filed an SS-8 determination request with the IRS and especially since September when I get a favorable determination. So it would at least be an understandable reaction.

  17. SarahKay*

    #5 Definitely ask for a raise. There have been a couple of years that my company hasn’t given raises generally but has still set aside a certain budget for bringing specific individuals’ salaries up to what they consider standard levels for their position. This would include raises where someone was taken on at below standard rates, or for someone like you where you have significantly more responsibilities than colleagues but you’re all on similar pay.

    1. Gadfly*

      Failing that, perhaps a promotion with high resolution salary to reflect that you are not really doing the same job.

  18. Fluffer Nutter*

    I think most people count on that last 2 weeks of pay, not to mention the health insurance as it probably ends the day before your new job starts. So yes, unless they’ve done something awful, in which case they should have been let go, allow them to work out the notice. I’m not in the private sector though, so I don’t relate to that cutthroat “we have secrets” ideology although I can understand why it might be necessary.

  19. Stranger than fiction*

    Ironically, the one place that treated me nicely during my layoff was a mortgage company that was doing shady sub prime loans during the bubble. The HR guy told me to take my time, get anything off my computer I needed, and actually asked me if I’d be ok to drive home because I was crying.
    Another place did the escort out like a criminal thing during my layoff, then had the audacity to hug me and ask if I’d like her to pray with me in the parking lot. :-/

    1. The Southern Gothic*

      The reason the Subprime HR guy was so nice to you was because he didn’t want you ratting the company out to your state’s DRE about the bad loans they were making.

      Ask me how I know.

    2. Drew*

      “Oh, bless your heart, I’ll be praying about you, but you probably don’t want to be around for it.”

  20. Liz2*

    My last round of interviewing last spring included one very difficult family run company- it had all the red flags including the recruiter warning me how they tend to be aggressive and picky, lots of bad reviews online. But it was a good fit on several levels and I wanted to stay in the market.

    When the guy started telling me I couldn’t have been an ACTUAL teapot maker because a few previous managers handled X activity on their own, I should have just firmly ended it there. Sadly I gritted my teeth, kept with him and his father heading into a 90 min interview which should have been only 20.

    It’s hard to stay in a place of power when you’re job seeking, but sometimes definitely the right thing.

  21. Mrs. Fenris*

    I left a job after 10 years. It was a small company, and my boss and I had had a close and trusting relationship. I gave two months’ notice (standard in my industry), but I was let go on the spot. They didn’t perp walk me out or anything…I had already agreed to work a specific day a few weeks later, and I still worked it and took my stuff home at the end of the day. I never knew why they didn’t let me work out my notice, though. I didn’t push it because it’s not like I really wanted to work those two months.

    1. cncx*

      YES. i worked at a place that perp walked people out on the spot as soon as they gave notice, then when i gave my notice, they wanted me not only to stay the whole notice but also extend it! HR even tried to call my new job to negotiate! But that is another story…

      I really think this is one of those all or nothing situtions and, like Alison said, how leaving employees get treated shows current employees how they will be treated when they leave. i had every reason to expect the perp walk and was really upset when i did not get it.

  22. sstabeler*

    There’s two sides to this:
    1. should you let them work out their notice- to me, provided they get paid for the notice period, it doesn’t really matter.
    2. should you walk them out- that is, have them escorted out by security- NO. That should be kept for FIRED employees, and even then, it’s mostly to ensure they don’t try to take revenge (as well as ensuring they leave) NOT just because someone quit.

  23. Agile Phalanges*

    I really don’t understand why it would ever be necessary to ask a RESIGNING (on good terms) employee to leave immediately rather than work out their notice (I guess in the case of someone incompetent enough you were about to fire but who beat you to the punch, there could be a case for it…).

    Someone you’re firing, sure, of course–they’re more likely to both have the motivation to retaliate and the surprise factor of firing them means you can walk them out before it even occurs to them to do any damage. In a layoff, maybe, if there are potential issues of retaliation or just confidentiality or whatever.

    But if someone is resigning and wanted to do any sort of damage, if they have any foresight whatsoever, they will have already taken the steps they need to take to do that damage PRIOR to turning in their notice. If they’re going to steal clients and take them to the competitor, what’s to stop them from printing or e-mailing databases the day before they turn in their notice? Or do whatever they’re going to do with confidential files. Or sabotage their co-workers. Or whatever you’re worried about. In addition to Alison astutely pointing out that they’re the same employee you trusted the day before, the fact is, if they’re not worthy of that trust, they’re nearly 100% likely to also be cunning enough to have forfeited that trust before turning in the notice, in which case walking them out would be shutting the barn door after the horses escaped.

    1. sstabeler*

      I think part of it is damage control- you can’t do a great deal about what they might have done already, but you can prevent it getting any worse. One example is sysadmins- there’s a lot of damage a departing sysadmin can do.

  24. Little Love*

    I went from a ten month contract to a twelve month contract with NO boost in pay. But since I was one of three people left out of a department of 14, I just took it.

  25. ChiTown Manager*

    I had a situation of an employee who gave notice on the same day I was about to start a performance improvement action. The employee worked for the company for three years with ongoing issues of tardiness and excessive sick days. The job is in a call center and these issues had a negative impact on everyone. The employee was put on improvement plans in past and improved. The employee was a good at their job when they showed up for it.

    After notice was given, the employee was late for the next three shifts and did a no-call no show on the fourth shift. The employee gave an excuse and wanted to come back. I said no nicely and suggested the employee should focus on getting themselves healthy for new job.

    This employee was very rude after this occurred and showed a huge disrespect for the myself and the company. Turns out another former employee had offered this employee the job they left for. I just shake my head and feel bad for new employer.

  26. rudster*

    It’s worth bearing mind that if your employee says (or gives you a letter saying) “I resign effective (date one/two/whatever weeks hence)”, and you make them leave earlier, you are effectively firing them – they can claim unemployment and will probably get it.

    Not missing out on unemployment compensation if you get walked out the door is reason enough to give reasonable notice, even if you don’t think your employer deserves it.

  27. Chuk Gleason*

    Just an off-the-cuff remark, but many many companies don’t like dealing with the subject of people leaving. It’s a combination of dealing with ‘DEATH’ and ‘CONTAGION.’ If you handle everything quickly enough, (ie, give them the perp-walk) you won’t have to deal with it anymore, and we can all go back to our happy places, (esp. the ones where it’s sooo lovely here, I don’t see why anyone would leave, they must be crazy).

    Even some of the euphemisms for people who have left a company are like the ones we use for people who are dead:
    Mr X is no longer with us.
    Miss Y isn’t here any more.

    The great fear of the superstitious is that by talking about them, they might ‘come back and haunt us’. It isn’t just don’t speak ill of the dead, it’s don’t speak of the dead, at all.

    As far as the perp walk itself, it lets the company feel in control of the situation, because they obviously can’t control that employee any more.

    There’s some deep psychology here, folks. Might as well admit it, and maybe use it to our advantage.

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