is it reasonable to leave without notice when my company lets employees go without notice?

A reader writes:

I am a senior software engineer at a mid-sized company. My team became part of this company through an acquisition three years ago. Within the first year of the acquisition, our product managers (“Joey” and “Chandler”) were let go as a “business decision.” Joey and Chandler were subject matter experts who shared the PM role along with their other duties. Of course the company is within its rights to reduce costs by letting personnel go, but they were locked out of their computers and told that they had been let go with absolutely no notice. We lost access to irreplaceable knowledge and expertise in the middle of a development cycle, and we permanently lost access to important documentation, as we had not even been fully integrated at that point.

After nearly a year without a product manager, we were allocated 50% of “Rachel’s” time. Rachel had also come in via acquisition (of a directly competitive project). It took several months to get her up to speed. Then, in the middle of specing out a brand-new large, shiny feature set, she was (yes, you guessed it) let go without notice. I had literally just gotten out of an hour-long meeting with her, working through the complicated new functionality we would need to implement.

These losses were upsetting and demoralizing for the entire team. For my part, as the lead developer, I did my best to keep the team calm and on track. I have a lot of political capital at this job and relatively little worry about being let go. I have made my concerns known to my managers. I have been fully invested in making this transition work, in part to help take care of my team and in part because I am invested (emotionally, not financially) in the success of the product.

Our division manager (“Monica”) announces personnel changes by putting a meeting on our calendar with anywhere from 0 to 15 minutes of warning. Two days ago, one of Monica’s meetings popped up on my calendar, and we were informed that one of our senior software engineers (“Ross”) was being let go (business reasons) and that he would be replaced with multiple off-shore workers (which means that our team is actually growing and being supported, according to Monica, even though our new “resources” share exactly zero hours of business day overlap). Again, this happened with no notice. Ross was locked out of his systems and informed that it was his last day.

I know this is the end of the road for me. It is time for me to leave, and the sooner the better. My question is twofold, I guess:

First, would it be wildly unprofessional of me to announce my resignation without notice? I doubt I will look for a job in the same sector, so I’m not necessarily concerned about references. I don’t want to be overly petty, but I feel that they have been abundantly clear that they consider their employees to be fully fungible “resources,” so why should they need notice? (I know I’m being petty, here, but is it overly petty?)

Second, my leaving will likely cause additional resignations. How much notice should I give my team? I don’t want to alarm anyone before my plans have firmed up a bit, and I don’t want to put them in the spot of needing to keep secrets from other team members or managers.

Does your company give severance to employees who are let go with no notice? I’m guessing they do — and if that’s the case, you resigning without notice isn’t really comparable.

It’s pretty typical for companies not to provide advance notice when they lay people off, instead substituting severance pay in place of notice. There are a lot of reasons for that, including that having laid-off employees still at work can make things harder for remaining employees and delay the process of figuring out how to move forward, and sometimes people who are being laid off are too angry or upset to effectively do their jobs (and you could argue that it’s unkind to expect them to). But severance pay means they continue getting paid for a while.

Now, if your company doesn’t offer severance and they cut off people’s income with zero notice the day they’re laid off, then sure, you absolutely have  the ethical standing to leave without notice yourself. That said, it still might not be advisable since it’s the kind of thing that often comes up in reference checks and can give a new company pause. (And even if you move to a new industry, they’re likely to check references from recent past jobs.) You might decide you’re okay with that outcome! Most of the time, though, it makes more sense to give two weeks notice so it doesn’t come back to bite you later. (Exceptions: if you’re being treated egregiously or you have the kind of F-you money or professional options that negate any real consequences to you or there are extenuating circumstances, like a health crisis you need to deal with.)

And really, I think your point would be missed! Your employer isn’t going to think, “Oh, this is what happens when we lay people off with no notice. Lesson learned.” They’re just going to think, “Wow, Phoebe is unprofessional” and then move on. Again, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. But it’s probably not going to send the message you want.

As for whether you should give notice to your team, even if you don’t give notice to your employer … you don’t need to. People leave jobs; people should always assume their coworkers could be thinking about leaving. Plus, if you share it, you risk it getting around to people you didn’t intend to know, and you risk putting your colleagues in awkward positions, like if they’re in a meeting about plans that are dependent on you a few months down the road and they know you won’t be there.

I also wouldn’t assume people will definitely leave just because you leave. Maybe they will! But people often overestimate that sort of thing. Either way, hearing about it a couple of weeks ahead of time isn’t likely to appreciably help them. If you do want to help them, leave behind documentation to aid them in taking over for you even without the transition time a notice period normally provides.

{ 241 comments… read them below }

  1. Coverage Associate*

    It would be a kindness to OP’s remaining coworkers if OP took steps to ease the transition, even if officially giving no notice.

    I am a little surprised so much information was lost with the lay offs, as my employers have emphasized that work product is a shared resource and should be kept somewhere accessible to others, if not regularly, then upon termination. For example, my last employer gave a manager access to departed employees’ work email, even if it was very rare to dip into someone’s email while they were still with the firm.

    1. Beth*

      At every company I’ve worked at, there’s plenty of knowledge that, yes, is technically documented somewhere…but if you have a question, the quickest way to get it answered is to ask the SME, not to dig through the documentation and try and piece it together yourself. The expert has probably worked in that area for a long time, and has a lot of context on the functionality. They know not just what all the pieces are, but also how they fit together, why they are what they are, what the history behind those decisions is, what potential downstream impact we might see if something breaks or is changed, what politics (internal or between us and a client) need to be considered, and a million other details.

      If that SME plans to leave, they’ll likely spend the time leading up to their departure doing a LOT of documentation and knowledge transfer. If get let go unexpectedly, sure, the team could sort through years of emails and contracts and work orders and slack conversations to get the full context, and sure, there’s probably a lot of people who have some of the picture already…but there are going to be gaps and things are going to fall through the cracks. It’s one thing if that happens because the SME has a sudden crisis and has to leave with no notice–that happens, the team does their best, you get past it eventually. But it’s a lot of work, and the company inflicting it on the team when they had alternatives is very frustrating. I understand why OP is upset.

      1. soontoberetired*

        We’ve had tech people let go without notice 3 times in 12 months and it wasn’t easy to get access to their saved documents despite the “ability” to do so. and you only have 2 weeks to do so. The big impact is on projects if that person didn’t have a backup, and it is very common now to not have a backup.

        I have been preparing to retire (and keep putting it off though) and have written documents for those staying which they keep ignoring. But the big that’s lost when I finally follow thru and retire is the ability to understand issues because of the history that I have. I can’t put that in a document, I wish I could,

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yes, the most you can ever really hope to do is mitigate and guard against the worst potential losses of institutional knowledge when a long-term employee leaves. Realistically some amount of loss is still to be expected, but some of the key things a company can do to mitigate loss are:

          – Giving employees manageable workloads that include time for good documentation to take place.

          – Budgeting for a secure shared document/file system adminned by the company, make sure it’s no harder to use or less fully-featured than Google Drive, and enlist the support of people managers to consistently direct people to move business documents from personal/external storage to company storage every. single. time. they see one improperly stored.

          – Create nightly backups of key folders on the employee computers, make sure employees know which folders get backed up and how to optionally back up other folders, and retain at least 2 weeks of backup images.

          – When an employee departs, convert their email address to an alias that forwards incoming emails to literally anyone who makes sense, even if it’s just an unmonitored IT account, so things like automated password recovery emails and such can still be at least requested from IT. The designated forward recipient doesn’t need to be given ability to send emails from the alias in order to have them receive forwarded messages, you can still set up an auto responder notifying the sender that the account doesn’t exist anymore if that’s standard procedure, and inbox filters can even be used to have the messages bypass the inbox if the forwarding recipient doesn’t need or want to monitor the inbox in real time.

          But of the 4 things above, #1 and #2 go 100x further than #3 and #4, and they’re very simple to implement, the company just has to be willing to allocate resources to making them happen.

          1. Jessica*

            Emily’s failing memory absolutely nailed it. I barely have time to actually do my job, much less document what I do or how. And I do a lot of stuff that’s semi-invisible, like if I didn’t do this routine process now, there could be a messy and confusing problem in three years.

            If you overload people so much that they have to work all-out just to keep things afloat, then there’s no time for: documentation; transition; hiring and onboarding; training; improvement of processes; anybody ever having a new idea; etc. In short, lots of stuff that isn’t “actively doing the core work function” but that makes a huge overall difference to the long-term success of your workplace. Penny wise, pound foolish.

          2. linger*

            Of course, a company that doesn’t see value in retaining expertise, or that sees putting multiple workers on the same project as a waste, won’t allocate any resources to documentation either.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Yeah, a company that is making the staffing moves OP’s employer is, by doing multiple rounds of immediate firings in an active project team, is not concerned about continuity or knowledge transfer or process, or likely even quality of end-product. And certainly isn’t concerned about the well-being, job satisfaction, work future of remaining employees.

              IME, best guess is someone in the management food chain is tasked with reducing overhead costs, either with the end goal being several someones somewhere get big bonuses or positioning that division, product line for sale, spin off or absorption into some other group/product. I wish I hadn’t seen that happen multiple times in the past.

              The second most likely scenario is that TPTB foolishly expect project completion timelines, deliverable complexity, quality to all be exactly as they were originally spec’d, in spite of the elimination of key project resources. And that whoever is remaining in OP’s team when the project falters will bear the brunt it in one way or another.

              OP should expect this won’t end well for them or their team and plan accordingly. No need to walk out with no notice, but make moves to find a new position and employer.

      2. Antilles*

        In my experience, it’s rarely about the actual work product as much as it is the processes to get there. The text of a report will be on the network for the next guy to pick up, but what’s *not* on the network is all sorts of decisions, mental juggling, and background that happened along the way to get there.

      3. Yellow sports car*

        Yep – my projects die with me. It’s not because I’m amazing and nobody else could learn what I’ve learnt – it’s that nobody else has. You simply can’t walk in and take over where I am as I have years of expertise, networks, and thinking about this project that someone new is not going to have.

        In my industry that is common, and indeed my death would trigger clauses that allows contracts to be cancelled and people to walk away. My work is documented etc and means the next person would start with an advantage – but in many roles SME is a big deal, and project specific SME cannot be quickly replaced or shared.

        There are other aspects of my job that they would easily replace.

        LW should job hunt, and frankly I don’t think she does need to keep that quiet from her colleagues. If she’s ok with the risk of management finding out – then share confidentially and hope colleagues respect that. When I was looking to leave previous job selected colleagues knew I was job hunting, others politely ignored what they suspected and we just avoided the elephant in the room. I did however make sure I never said anything to anyone official (management even not mine) until the day I resigned (and worked my full lengthy notice period). I was also ready to be walked out the day I resigned, and had done a tidy of my work area etc.

        LW should also be ready to be sacked – I wouldn’t worry about the company/project, but take their leave if they won’t be paid out, stop hoarding sick leave/carers leave (still be honest, but user if it would help you), and clean your laptop of anything personal that has ended up on there.

        If LW leaves with no notice I’d just explain it as with all the redundancies on the project she figured sure was next and started job hunting – and was surprised that they didn’t loose their job too / or was expecting that they’d be excluded the moment they resigned as they seen so many staff not even able to hand over what they’d worked on that day so lined up new job based on that.

        1. Old Lady manager*

          For the LW,
          A few things to consider.
          You can’t care more about a business than the business owners.
          Same with projects.
          I know that it feels like you are standing on a cookie with giant mice taking bites out of it and you are.
          They are taking away the resources you use to do your job well.

          If they fire you next week, never fire you or fire you 3 days before you next vacation, you now know how they are and you don’t want to hang around.

          Not wanting to work for someone is a valid reason to quit.

          If you can, contact the former employees and ask if there was a severance package.
          Get the details.
          Re-write your resume and start looking.
          Start saving your money.
          If you are a good leader, there are people below you who are only staying on because you are there.
          Confide in the ones you trust and swear them to secrecy.
          Exchange non-work related contact information.
          Anyone who you don’t trust, don’t tell.
          If the severance is generous, look for another job but be picky about it.
          Get any needed training for the new job you want, research, etc.
          Give the standard two weeks notice when you leave.
          (Warning severance is not guaranteed but, getting an idea of what the company standard is now can help. Sometimes the first ones laid off can get a better deal then the last ones and vice versa.)

          All your doing here is waiting around until they give you a good severance or you find a good replacement job.
          Look out for you.
          This can take months.

          If the severance sucks, give four to six weeks notice as soon as your money is straight.
          Enough in the checking account to cover two months of bills plus three months in savings minimum.
          This can take months if you have no money saved.
          Don’t forget to make sure there is enough to cover private health insurance if needed.
          Yes job hunt HARD but, if you already have your money straight, that means you can give notice today.

          In a lot of cases where they are doing layoffs by ones and twos, they will convert this into you being fired effective immediately.
          Strangely enough, most companies with good severance packages usually don’t give them to people who give notice, even if they are fired during the notice period.
          The difference is unemployment.
          You quit and you are on your own.
          They fire you before the end of your notice period, you qualify for unemployment in most cases.
          It’s the company who pays unemployment insurance.

          It all becomes about time and money.

          Saving away a few bucks a week gives you the ability to leave a bad job when needed and pass on a bad job opportunity when needed.

      4. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I might add that the OP is likely to be cut off and sent home even if he does give two weeks notice at a firm like this one appears to be.

    2. Momma Bear*

      People who focus on numbers don’t understand who knows what and will axe people without regard to the consequences. There are usually/often shared knowledge banks but there’s a bit of “Joe knows this inside out off the top of his head” that is lost without time to hand that off to someone before he goes. My company had layoffs and we are still finding out where the holes are months later.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Maybe they plan to outsource everything and it’s cheaper to start completely.
      Instead of transitioning highly paid employees to continue working until they have something for the new outsourced team, let them go and have the outsource team build it. That would also explain why the off shore “support” is on a different time schedule and (according to OP) no effort is being made to address the lack of overlap.

      1. kupo*

        I mean, they probably believe that. But all I know is my former workplace was so desperate to get knowledge back of the very specific tech field it was covering that I was approached by a recruiter a couple of years after being laid off specifically asking about my niche industry knowledge. Guess they found out that not all software is equal and some domain-specific knowledge is harder to come by. But those coding bootcamps in the lower COL city were cheaper than BS and MS degrees.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yeah, having been through this it may have been to acquire market share. When the people who know the product are let go or treated cavalierly it’s not a pleasant workplace for people like the OP (or anyone doing technical work on the product).

        Companies may turn around from that, but usually not without some sort of cataclysm or wake-up call.

    4. Sloanicota*

      It sounds like there was some kind of merger, so I guess it could be that the employees were in the process of walking files over from one system to the other, and people were let go in the middle of that so some info didn’t make it. It does sound like too much stuff is being saved on people’s computers or something, and that is one step the company could take if they know they like to can people with no warning.

    5. Anon for this*

      Sadly just because policy says don’t do that, doesn’t mean employees will listen.

      1. Starbuck*

        Or the policy might say something is required – but they aren’t given the time to actually get that done properly and it isn’t prioritized.

    6. TG*

      It depends – I was a layoff victim due to a RIF – many of us did what we could to ensure documentation was on the network. But because of the layoff a TON of know how and institutional knowledge was lost and months later it still is having ripples per friends and former colleagues still there.
      My company provided pretty good severance but it wa a painful for me and for those left behind…

    7. another fed*

      Also, these were parts of mergers and acquisitions so sometimes you can’t access something still on the other server or it never makes it through the merged resources.

    8. ceiswyn*

      That doesn’t help.

      If a software developer has half-built a feature, you can’t just give that in-progress code to someone else to finish off. It would actually take longer for them to figure out exactly what the code does and how the rest is intended to fit than it would to just start again from scratch.

    9. Mac&Cheese*

      My previous employer had a reputation for walking you out the door the moment you gave notice – too many people had copied docs/files from them in the past.

      By the time I gave notice, I had already gotten everything sorted for my team, had documented upcoming matters and duties for the person I knew would take over, and cleaned out my desk and computer of anything personal.

      …..And then I was the first person anyone had heard of that was not immediately asked to leave. After about a week into my notice period I had nothing left to do, so asked to leave early so I could start my new job with benefits instead of dealing with COBRA for a month and they were ok with that too.

      They did end up hiring 2 people (in addition to the successor I expected, so 3 people total) to replace the work I was doing…which is probably partly on me for letting them pile on more than what was reasonable, but in the moment it does not feel like you really have an option to say no.

    10. MusicWithRocksIn*

      My feeling is – if a company has any kind of record of firing someone as soon as they put in notice/ during their notice period, then it’s totally fine to leave without notice, as they have proven that they won’t uphold the unspoken rules there. If they aren’t going to respect you giving them notice don’t give it to them. Other than that, if you are planning to leave then don’t make things harder on the people you actually like. Managment won’t suffer as much from those two weeks as your coworkers will.

    11. OMG, Bees!*

      To me, giving notice before quitting is really to benefit the coworkers who remain there, not the company. The company will most likely survive, but the burden will fall upon the coworkers who remain.

  2. Peanut Hamper*

    There are so many reasons that could explain why Monica handles things this way. Some of them are reasonable and some of them are not. But without knowing some more of the details than you have been given, yeah this is going to be frustrating for you. Nobody likes last-minute anything or being kept in the dark. I can sense your frustration (and a more than a hint of exhaustion).

    But it’s almost always better to take the high road. Once you give your notice, they may show you the door anyway. Have a plan in place.

    1. ferrina*

      Exactly this.
      I can’t tell from this letter how layoffs are approached at this company. Nothing in this letter says that the company is doing it wrong; then again, without info that OP probably doesn’t have, it’s impossible to tell if they are doing it right.

      One thing to keep in mind- it is extremely normal to ask laid off employees to leave right away. It’s an emotional process, and some people will react poorly (and HR is designed to minimize company risks). If you allow someone to stay for two weeks, that would be extremely distracting for those two weeks (almost a ‘dead man walking’ scenario).

      1. MassMatt*

        “Nothing in this letter says that the company is doing it wrong”

        I disagree, the fact that the company is losing access to large amounts of the work the laid off people were doing indicates to me the layoff process is being handled badly.

        I’ve been through many rounds of layoffs; yes the loss of institutional knowledge and relationships is inevitable, but actual work and work processes? That should not happen. The company should have gotten all that sorted out before laying people off.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          What that loss tells me is that documentation, knowledge sharing, and processes are done very poorly, and the layoffs brought that to light. The same problems would exist if someone won the lottery and quit overnight.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yeah I think if OP and their coworkers learn anything from this it should be that documentation and backup should be a thing as much as possible, so at least the day to day can continue near normal for the short term. Bob pulls this one report that NO ONE else knows how to do? Bob needs to write up instructions on how and/or show Jane what he does.

            1. Grey Duck 74*

              Goood lord no. It is not my job to help ease any transition caused by my departure. Boss, who thought I was expendable, can figure that out. I’m either needed, or expendable. Not both.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                Bob could get hit by a bus or win the lottery and never come to work again. He absolutely needs to have a written plan at the very least, if he’s the only person who knows how to do a process. Same with any job where someone is the only person doing it/only one who knows the shortcuts, etc.

              2. ferrina*

                That’s a false dichotomy.

                Very few people are truly absolutely essential. Even the work of key employees can be reverse engineered (I’ve had to do this a couple times). Strategic initiatives can be reworked by other strategic thinkers. Almost no individual is the make-or-break for a company.

                On the flip side, most employees are impactful to the company and the company doesn’t want to lose them (except for companies run on a churn&burn model- mentally exclude them from this). Sure, they could replace you, but they’d really, really prefer to keep you on. They rely on the work you do, and hopefully even appreciate you. They don’t want to let you go unless it’s truly necessary (the definition of “necessary” is highly subjective though, and yeah, some companies run on a model of Overhire&Purge). Your value isn’t “you’re the only one who knows how to press the button”- it’s that you are the fastest and most knowledgeable about pressing the button, understanding the implications and troubleshooting.

                Side note- not documenting rarely screws over your boss. It usually impacts your former coworker who has to take over your work, and will then get in trouble because they can’t figure out what you didn’t document. Then the company will cut the function anyways, or outsource it, leaving your coworker SOL.

          2. Peanut Hamper*

            As someone who has written a lot of CAPAs, yep, this is the root cause. We need better documentation processes in cases like this.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah in my experience layoffs usually don’t come with advanced notice. Sometimes the boss knows a few days/weeks ahead of time that someone will be cut and they don’t know who, sometimes they’re asked for input and sometimes not, but the actual employee is usually asked to leave immediately after they’re given the information. The only exception to that was when my old company was going out of business and we were all required by law to get a WARN notice of I think a month or two that we’d be losing our jobs; I think that law only kicks in if it’s a really large number of people losing their jobs.

    2. Reality.Bites*

      There were obviously childhood issues at play leading to Monica firing her own brother.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I think the final straw was when he told everyone that Monica broke the porch swing.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’m guessing OP also feels like it’s disrespectful of their management position. They’re coaching people and offering feedback while being completely in the dark that that person is hours out from being fired. That makes you look and feel like a weak, possibly incompetent manager and loses the respect of your employees. Some places, a manager has lots of input on who on their team is promoted, given a raise, gets a good review – whatever. Some places have puppet managers who don’t even know what their own employees are paid. Also, since managers are the face of the company’s decisions, it’d be nice if that went both ways a little more. It sounds like OP doesn’t want to work at a place that treats managers like this.

      1. Magpie*

        OP said they’re a Senior Software Engineer which isn’t typically a management position. They lead the technical aspects of a project but nobody reports to them.

      2. Engineery*

        This is a normal part of being acquired by a company who wants to own a certain product, but want it maintained by developers far cheaper than the group who made that product worth buying to begin with.

        OP’s department is in a multi-year liquidation process. As its functions are wound down and/or offshored, basic management principles like morale, knowledge transfer, training, coaching, etc. become less and less important. OP is already slated for termination, along with all their coworkers; they just won’t be informed until their final day.

        In that context, Monica’s poor management practices are irrelevant, as there’s nothing for her to manage to begin with. She’s not there to improve anything; she’s there to help leadership dismantle all the things OP and their department created, so they can be shipped offshore or thrown away.

        1. Helewise*

          This is what it is. The purchasing company sees it as a mining operation, and they’ll extract as much value from it as they can before either repackaging for another sale or just selling assets and shutting down.

    4. Ellie*

      Yeah, make sure that you have forwarded anything personal home before you give notice, and try to have everything packed up and ready to go (just leave a decoy jacket over your chair and a cup that you don’t like very much, that you can pick up on the way out. Mugs, cutlery, co-worker’s contact details, photos, etc. – get them home ASAP.) It’s too risky to tip your colleagues off but you can make sure that anything you’re working on is in configuration control or at least in a shared location, and make sure someone else knows that its there. If they do give severance, then give them the standard two weeks notice but expect to be walked out with a paid two-week holiday the second you tell them. But don’t bank on it… resignations might be handled differently to lay-offs and if you’re that trusted, they might just expect you to work it.

  3. Magenta Sky*

    You don’t give notice for your employer’s benefit, or even, really, your coworkers. You give notice for your own benefit. You do it because it’s professional, and professionalism follows you throughout your life, even if no one else ever knows it. It’s not about who *they* are, it’s about who *you* are.

    (But petty spite is the manna of life, sometimes, worth more than professionalism. I’d certainly be tempted in your shoes.)

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      If it’s professional for a departing employee to give two week’s notice, why isn’t it professional for the employer laying someone off to give two week’s notice? Why are there no consequences for the many employers who don’t do this?

      Because it’s a load of crap designed to keep the employers boot on the employees’ neck, that’s why.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Like I said, it’s not about who *they* are, it’s about who *you* are.

        That many employers aren’t very professional doesn’t alter whether or not you’re the sort of person who will quite without notice.

        And there are much the same consequences for employers at there are for employees. Neither is under any legal obligation, both suffer reputation hits when they act unprofessionally.

        And also, like I said, sometimes, spite is the manna of life. Being professional isn’t always the goal.

        1. not nice, don't care*

          Sometimes who “I” am is a person who stands up to injustice, esp when I have political capital and/or zero fucks left to give.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            How is quitting with no notice (and potentially leaving innocent co-workers in the lurch) standing up to injustice?

          2. Database Developer Dude*

            Yup. And who I am is a person who doesn’t see the value in being “professional” when the employer can f you over with very little consequences. Reputation? They’ll trash you anyway. Protect yourself. Think about your own mental health and safety. GTFO of toxic situations.

      2. Snow Globe*

        As Allison said, from the employer side it is professional to give severance pay, in lieu of notice. Giving the employee notice that they will be laid off in two weeks doesn’t really help the employee much.

        1. ferrina*

          This. And can you picture working alongside someone that was just told their last day is in 2 weeks? That would be extremely distracting. It’s really, really hard to plan to transition your work when you are distracted by the looming question of “how will I pay for living expenses now?” not to mention processing all those emotions right next to your coworkers.

          I’m generally a calm person and known for being cool under fire, but when I got laid off, I sobbed. I had lived a good portion of my life in poverty and hadn’t built up enough savings, and it was terrifying. The nice HR lady let me cry in her office until I was ready to go back to my cube and pick up my things (HR was lovely; it wasn’t their decision to eliminate my position).

          1. kupo*

            I’ve done it frequently. It’s standard in my sector. They’re a little more checked out, sure, but they still put in the effort to transition what they can. People respect that they’re going to have more out of office appointments on their calendar and they contribute what they can, just not taking on anything big. It’s really not much different than someone working out their 2-week notice when resigning.

            I did have one workplace where, when I resigned, my manager joked constantly about me having “short-timers” which was her term for people who have resigned and are working out their notice period and are checked out. Meanwhile I was working harder than she was. I didn’t appreciate the snide comments, but she was no small part of why I was leaving a job I worked hard to earn a promotion into and took a lot of pride in.

          2. Chocoholic*

            Years ago, my husband was laid off with 2 weeks notice. He was given the option to leave right away and get his vacation paid out, or work for 2 weeks and get paid those 2 weeks before the vacation payout. He opted to work because we needed the money, but it SUCKED. He and one other person at the company (total of about 6 or 7 people) were let go, and both were still around for a couple weeks. I think it was awkward for everyone. UGH

          3. Temp Anon*

            It doesn’t have to be so awkward. After surviving several rounds of layoffs, I was let go, and yes, it sucked. I was told in late November that my last day would be at the end of the year. My actual last day was earlier due to using my vacation time.

            I continued to do my job to the best of my ability, yes there was some disruption/shock among my team but we got through it.

            I have to say, as awful as the experience was, being able to keep working kept my mind off it for a while, and making my official last day 12/31 meant I was credited for that year for both the pension plan and severance, and eligible for that year’s 401k employer contribution. The first especially made a big financial difference. I had been with the company for a while so I got good severance, also.

            Layoffs suck, no matter how well they are handled. There is no magic way to do them where they don’t suck.

            1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

              Thanks for sharing that. This sounds like the kind of situation you can have when a company has some level of trust in their employees, and has been honest enough that their employees can have some level of trust in return. I don’t think it should be as uncommon as it is. Everyone (including the company) is better off when there is a bit of closure with teammates and the opportunity to wind your work down or hand it off (even if it is just a couple of hours). But something like this is so incredibly important when you have irreplaceable knowledge.

              1. Cathie from Canada*

                When my workplace was going through these kinds of insulting walk-out reductions, I decided I needed to take home every single personal thing that I had accumulated in my office over 25 years – from a folding bookcase, to personal posters and books, to a coffee cup – just so that I would never have to beg some HR or security twerp to let me get these things back.
                I remember how it felt very alienating and lonely to carry all this out of the office one afternoon – I waited until late, so no one would see me doing it – and my office seemed pretty barren afterwards. But I felt that if the organization showed no loyalty to its staff, then I was no longer obliged to be loyal to them.
                In the end, I actually did work there several more years, until I retired, but I have never forgiven them for how cruelly they treated people.

          4. Baunilha*

            It happened to me (though I was supposed to work for 4 weeks!!!) and it wasn’t great. I was very worried about the loss of income and people could tell, so relationship-wise, it was uncomfortable for everyone. It was also hard to decide which meetings I should attend, what to prioritise, and so on. But honestly, I only did the bare mininum during those 4 weeks. The only good side was that I got to tell interviewers truthfully that I was still employed, since some people can be weird when you’re unemployed.

            But the plot twist: I was re-hired by the end of the notice period because, who could’ve guessed, the company was having trouble getting things done since they laid off half the team.

            1. Lily Potter*

              The only good side was that I got to tell interviewers truthfully that I was still employed, since some people can be weird when you’re unemployed.

              The kindest layoff I witnessed was similar – employees were told in mid-November that they would be formally off the payroll the first Friday in January. In the interim, while they were paid their regular salary, they were not expected to do any work – their “job was to look for a new job”. They were expected to answer work questions from their supervisor if needed but did not have computer/email access or access to the office. The layoff was “immediate” in that the employees no longer performed work functions (other than occasional phone assistance) but there was “notice” in that the employees were kept on the payroll for six weeks. Throughout November, December, and early January these employees could honestly say that they were “still employed” by the company on their resumes and on LinkedIn – and that’s huge given that there’s truth to the saying “it’s easier to land a job while you still have one.”

              1. allathian*

                Yes, this. And there’s also a huge advantage to being able to use your current manager as a reference, being able to interview during work hours, etc.

                I work for the government in an unionized environment, although granted, I’m in Finland where the rules are different. Vacation is paid out extremely rarely, the only case I know of happened when a work friend’s husband had an accident at work that was severe enough that he was never able to return to work. Sick leave and vacation are in separate buckets by law, and he actually kept accruing more vacation for as long as he was on sick leave even if he couldn’t work at all. He retired on disability.

                People who’re fired for cause also get their vacations paid out, they’re generally asked to leave immediately and it’s illegal to punish employees by refusing to pay out earned salary, including vacation, even when they’re fired for cause.

                People who’ve been laid off get a month or two of notice, depending on tenure. But it’s actually specified in our collective agreements that managers whose subordinates have been given notice of a layoff must allow them to interview during work hours, for example.

        2. Bast*

          This depends. I would argue that if you are laying someone off with absolutely no severance pay, with notice, they can at the very least apply like mad everywhere they can and get a refund for those plane tickets they bought for next month.

          If you get some severance pay, at least there is a bit of a buffer, so I agree in that case it may not matter. I’d make the argument that lay offs and firings tank productivity anyway, as once everyone figures out that someone was laid off, they are worried about whether they are next, how secure their job is, etc, and the whole office talks about it for at least the next week. Productivity is still likely to take a hit.

        3. Gumby*

          Depends on the situation. When one division I worked for was going to be shut down, they gave us several months of notice. Well, more like “we don’t know the exact date but in a month or two; in the meantime just keep the basic operations going but stop working on new projects.” Basic operations took no more than half a day of work per week. So we had so much time to job search, take field trips, have long lunches, sit around and chat, etc. all while collecting our normal paychecks. It was pretty ideal. Which only worked because of the low workload and because our division was in a different geographical location than the rest of the company so our whole office was in the same boat.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        If the situation is the one Alison supposes (where the company pays at least 2 weeks severance) it’s not outrageously unequal. Layoffs taking effect immediately might very well delay projects and lose important expertise, but the company gets to make that call.

        I’m honestly not sure if it’s more stressful to other employees to know that their coworker Sam might lose their job and disappear tomorrow, or that their coworker Sam might lose their job and disappear two weeks later. It’s pretty crappy both ways.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          I’d extremely rather get the severance pay and be able to immediately launch a full time job search instead of sounding the next 2 weeks chained to a job I’m absolutely no longer feeling committed to and trying to search for a new job on nights and weekends.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I would too, but honestly 2 weeks severance for a no-fault layoff is pretty crummy. This is someone’s livelihood! Most people aren’t going to be able to find a job in 2 weeks. I don’t think unemployment kicks in that quickly either (I’d be surprised if the check cleared within 14 days of filing, but maybe).

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              oh it’s definitely a miserly amount. I’m seeing that the average offered in the US is 1-2 weeks of pay per year of tenure which absolutely isn’t enough. my organization offered 1 month per year capped at 9 months capped anyone who voluntarily resigned when layoffs were looming, and told us up front that if we had to do involuntary layoffs in the future the payout would be lower, at two weeks per year capped at 6 months.

      4. Beth*

        Many employers do either set end dates a couple weeks out or offer severance. Not all, of course–it’s not as much of a given as employees giving two weeks’ notice–but many, especially when we’re talking layoffs and not fired-for-cause.

      5. Devious Planner*

        Except that if the company provides severance, it’s fine. Think about what each side of the equation is offering: employee is providing time, employer pays for that time with money.

        If the company lays you off and gives you 2 weeks severance, they are providing you with “two weeks notice” but in the usual form of payment: 2 weeks of money.

        When you quit and give 2 weeks notice, you are providing them with your usual contribution: 2 weeks of your time.

        Obviously if the company doesn’t pay severance, all of this is moot. And frankly, companies should be providing more than 2 weeks of severance. But I think the larger issue remains the same. What employers and employees provide to each other is fundamentally different, so we can have different expectations.

        1. LTR, FTP*

          Two weeks severance is hot garbage. Cutting off someone’s livelihood without notice, then barely providing them enough money to make their next rent/mortgage payment (while simultaneously putting the employee on the hook for paying the full cost of their healthcare) is hardly equal to any hardship a company is subjected to when an employee voluntarily leaves.

          1. Devious Planner*

            I mean, yea I did say “companies should be providing more than 2 weeks of severance.” And it’s for the reasons you outline: the stakes are higher for an individual person than for a company. I was just talking about why the “two weeks notice” thing is not comparable between employee and employer.

          2. Sloanicota*

            Yeah to me it’s a question of how it went down. If the person had a heads-up that things weren’t working out because they’re not right for the role, or if the company had several “all hands” meetings about a bad budget forecast in the weeks preceeding, 2 weeks severance may be fair; I’d have been hoping they were already looking. However, if they were doing a great job and had no reason to think their position was at risk, and the number-crunchers just cut them one day to save some cash, 2 weeks is really brutal.

      6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        For the same reason candidates are expected to send a letter of thanks for being allowed to present themselves for a job, instead of receiving a letter of thanks for taking time out of their work day and personal time to research the company, compose a cover letter, complete an application, pick an outfit, coordinate time off for the interview and contact their references…
        and that reason is…

        1. Orv*

          Or how recruiters can lie to candidates about the position they’re recruiting for, but a candidate who lies on their resume is subject to severe consequences.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            Oh, 100% this.
            What was the actual quote from an interviewer? “We put remote on the job listing because we weren’t getting responses.”
            and every, “we are hiring managers,” that leads to a cattle call of door to door or cold calling sales.

      7. I should really pick a name*

        “Is it professional” and “why are there no consequences” are significantly different questions.

        There are no consequences because of the way employment is structured.
        Someone who leaves without notice will still likely need a reference for their next job.
        An employer who lays you them with no notice or severance doesn’t need the employee for anything after that point. Sure, they could tell their friends and leave a bad review on GlassDoor, but that’s not going to have much effect on the employer.

        1. RunShaker*

          I was laid off June 2022. The difference for me was I knew it for about 2 years & stayed to help close down the department (with retention bonuses). I was with a group though that had no idea. We all were given a 60 day notice period which was to allow us to look for another job whether within the company or outside and resources such as career/job coach. I was asked to use first 2 weeks to wrap up my work and communicate with person that took over. We all were also WFH 100%. All were also paid a severance. It wasn’t too awkward for me since I knew for couple of years but I know it was for others that didn’t have heads up. But the end result was the resources, being paid our regular salary, receiving benefits, and severance. That was huge help financially. My old company even made our last day on June 2nd so that our medical benefits would extend to end of June. I’ll take awkward any day that gives me time and pay check to figure out next steps.
          For the OP, it may be better to say something in exit interview or if it may be possible that you’ll be walked out immediately. Either way, please prepare your documentation and share it as soon as you advise your manager of your resignation. I also see why you feel as you do. Lay offs can be cold hearted. Good luck,

          1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

            Thanks for sharing your experience. This is a level of trust and respect I expect my company to have in me and my coworkers because we are professionals, and we have pride in our work.

      8. Sloanicota*

        Ha, I felt that way about the “job hopper” discussion. An employee who bounces quickly out of bad jobs gets dinged, loses opportunities, is seen as untrustworthy; their whole career may be over if they hit a run of bad luck. An employer who burns out positions by being thoughtless/cheap/cruel can continue along like that for decades with little consequence particularly if they target recent grads.

      9. MassMatt*

        There ARE consequences for companies–employees (like the LW!) are less likely to stay, and less likely to give notice.

        But as Alison said, just because someone was laid off suddenly doesn’t mean their pay stopped immediately. If someone is laid off and asked to leave immediately but is paid for two or more weeks, that’s really like a notice period where you don’t have to work.

        In some positions and fields having someone have access to systems after being laid off can be a big security risk. It sounds draconian and cruel, but sometimes having someone leave immediately is necessary. Maybe not in all the layoffs in this letter, but we don’t know the details.

  4. Kit Grey*

    When other people have resigned, are they allowed to work out their notice period? I’m only tech adjacent, but many dev/ops people I know turned in their notice and were told to pack their things immediately.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I worked in finance briefly and you resigned on the day you wanted to leave because it was a given that when you resigned, they’d put you out immediately. Notice wasn’t really a thing there.

    2. VaguelySpecific*

      My current employer has a policy where if you give notice and are leaving for either a competitor or chose not to share where you are going, that you have to leave immediately (but you are paid for your notice period as far as I know).

      This is because the business we are in is hyper competitive and we don’t want people having access to systems where they could compromise/sabotage things OR gather up data to take to their new employer. We are also far from the “leading” company in that field so many times if people are leaving for the competition, its to a company that is larger than us.

      1. Artemesia*

        Doesn’t everyone ‘gather up’ whatever data or work products they want to not lose BEFORE giving notice?

      2. Nia*

        Why wouldn’t you just refuse to say then? If they’re paying you either way why wouldn’t you take the paid two week vacation?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Eh, I can imagine a scenario where someone feels invested in their work, likes their coworkers, and wants to work out the two weeks to wrap up/hand off projects and say good-bye to people. Not everyone’s cup of tea but nice that it’s an option for people who are changing careers (or becoming a stay-at-home parent, or otherwise not working for a competitor).

          1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

            To some extent, yeah. This. To be honest, it’s not about expecting someone to work out a two week notice period, but just to give them the day to wrap things up and hand stuff over and say good-bye.

      3. ferrina*

        I think this is called “garden leave” in the UK. You’re technically on payroll, but don’t have access to anything.

        1. Cinn*

          Can confirm this is indeed called “garden leave” in the UK. I’ve mostly seen it used when people were made redundant and one instance where the employee was going to work for a competitor. In my industry most people work their notice period (which is typically four weeks, but can be much longer if you’ve got a high level of seniority).

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I work in a fiercely competitive field, and when I moved from Firm1 to Firm2 I was one of several in a short period.

        Firm1 had a history of putting people on gardening leave during their notice period, but for those of us in this particular wave they insisted that each of us work every last day and couldn’t use PTO (in my country it has to be paid out, so that meant I had a delicious double pay overlap!).

        It was petty and awkward, and entirely unnecessary.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      Yup. It’s a significant insider threat risk if you let someone stay at work for any period after a layoff.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Do you mean resignation, like Kit Grey was talking about? I’ve worked out my notice period (longer than two weeks!) at multiple jobs, and they were actually pretty sensitive to info leaks. I was still bound by all the same non-competes, confidentiality and insider trading laws after we chose an end date as I was beforehand, though.

    4. Swivel chair*

      My experience in the accounting world is yes, giving and working at least 2 weeks is the norm. My husband (accounting manager at a medical center) gave 3 weeks recently, which they appreciated, and the last time I had W-2 employment I gave 3 months notice due to a project I was working on. They only walked people out that day if they were fired.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Upon resigning, yes. But back in my newspaper days, reporters would typically get walked out the same day if they were going to a competitor.

    6. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah that happened at my old company when someone announced they were going to work for a competitor. I thought it was silly because if they were going to pass on secrets they would have already, but if a company is working with sensitive information you can see why they don’t want a potentially disgruntled laid off employee hanging around and making copies of things, or forwarding documents to their personal email.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yeah, if nothing else it would be embarrassing if the resigning employee did undertake some act of corporate espionage and when asked why they didn’t lock the employee out as soon as they have notice, their answer was, “well, we didn’t figure there was much point because they could have already stolen the documents before giving notice,” that’s… not a great reason. The existence of risk beyond you capacity to mitigate isn’t a reason to not bother to mitigate risk that’s within your control.

        1. allathian*

          I think it’s absurd that someone who’s leaving for another opportunity elsewhere is automatically considered a security risk if they’re allowed to work out their notice period. Confidentiality agreements continue to apply for at least as long as they’re employed by the company, and usually indefinitely. Granted, company secrets usually become irrelevant when enough time goes by, but that doesn’t mean that you can talk about the confidential stuff you had access to while working there even after you leave.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            I wouldn’t say anyone leaving is automatically considered a risk, just that in cases where it is a risk (direct competitor, access to unusually sensitive information in the role) it’s understandable to take the action you can take even if it’s not a guarantee.

    7. ceiswyn*

      My employers have always been *desperate* for me to work my notice period; exactly because they need me to put important projects in a handover-able position and coach some people in the basics of what I do, so that they’re not left completely dead in the water.

  5. Beth*

    This is what exit interviews are for. If you’re looking to send a clear message like this, and you’re willing to risk some less-than-positive energy to get it across, then just say it outright. Your company might not listen, but they’ll at least know what you meant. Taking indirect actions like leaving without notice won’t have the same effect–your company will likely assume you were unprofessional rather than understand that you were angry, and even if they do realize you’re angry they may not understand what you’re angry about.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Exactly this. It sounds like the LW wants management to realize that people disappearing with no warning isn’t great for a couple reasons. Which, yes, agreed! It also sounds like a situation where the people still there are going to be expected to take on more and more and more as the number of regular staff drops. Also not great for anyone in the long run.

      But Beth is right. Quitting with no notice isn’t going to make them get the message. Any legit criticism you raise can get dismissed as you being unprofessional.

      Instead, I’d suggest that you do your reasonable best at work, but don’t go above and beyond to fix the problems these decisions are causing. Don’t set yourself or your team on fire to keep management warm. It sounds like you’ve tried to tell them about problems and aren’t getting any traction, so it makes sense to give up. When you quit, give standard notice unless one of the extenuating situations applies, and leave with your head held high.

  6. Junior Assistant Peon*

    My coworkers who stormed out with no notice were remembered poorly, but a few gave one week notice instead of two and no one remembers that detail a few years later.

  7. Random Dice*

    The reason IT folks get no notice is so they don’t blow up the IT in revenge.

    I’ve had many of these conversations. It’s crappy but there’s a reason for it.

    1. VaguelySpecific*

      People sometimes underestimate how much damage a malicious IT person can cause…I’m not IT but I will say that every time I’ve resigned from a company I’ve been mentally prepared for them to walk me out immediately.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        And that’s for a (presumably voluntary) resignation, not a being made redundant or being replaced by less expensive international labor.

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        Project managers generally have access to confidential/proprietary data. They also usually have access to file directories containing requirements, design, etc data on projects, or even code. They may have access to financial systems. They will have access to internal research. They will have access to client data. Also, they have email and access to your networks. They may have the ability to reset passwords on internal documents.

        Any of these are opportunities to steal, corrupt, delete, expose etc confidential data or data necessary for the successful operation of their unit or project/program.

        Would I like to think that most people would not resort to deleting, exposing, etc proprietary or confidential data on their way out in a layoff? Sure. But is the risk very real? Absolutely. Especially when there is intellectual property involved. Can you mitigate some of this with good backups? Yes – but it takes time. Can you mitigate all of it with good backups? Nope.

    2. ferrina*

      Exactly this.

      A company doesn’t know who will take the layoff well and who will take it badly until it’s too late. Plenty of people will be professional, but those that don’t can be really dangerous. So you need to assume that someone isn’t safe until they prove that they are. None of us want to be in that situation, but that’s the world that we live in. It’s sort of like a woman getting hit on by a man- you are really hoping that you can both go your separate ways without drama, but you can’t be sure until it’s over.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      My company has backups and security – I couldn’t damage anything other than my own machine.

  8. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    From the perspective of someone who was laid off… it’s really disheartening when it happens to you, but misery loves company, and when it’s also happening to other people, it still bites, but you ultimately realize the problem wasn’t you. What I realized now that it’s been ten months since my layoff and I’m securely in a new job is that my old job, which was once wonderful, had become extremely toxic, and it was disheartening for me because I’d spent several years there and worked really hard trying to help the company do well and build positive relationships. And now that I’ve left, I’ve kept up through the grapevine of what’s happening there, and I’ve come to realize that they ultimately did me a favor because I have a much better, higher paying job now.

    What I definitely regret was that I was on a financial place where I could have quit, and I didn’t. I knew layoffs were coming, I knew that I was miserable and my mental health was suffering, and that job was not worth it. I should have given two weeks notice. Which, OP, if this is you, please just give notice and focus on getting outta there. You can say you needed to resign for personal reasons that are later resolved.

    *Also, love the names in this letter.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I was super loyal to my first Toxic!Job. Getting fired from it was the best thing that ever happened for my career, even if it took me a few months to realize.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        ahhh, the old frog in the pot.
        The pot tips over, everything falls on the floor. Oh no! Oh…wait!
        Congrats on moving on.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          That is the perfect way to put it. Sometimes the thing that you dreaded and worked so hard to avoid… is actually really beneficial.

          In direct contrast, after Toxic!Job I landed a job at my dream company! Then after about a year, I realized that just because it was everything I thought I wanted, that didn’t mean it was good for me; I was burning out. I chose to leave for a much slower-paced gig that I found rewarding but nowhere near as stressful.

          Living and still learning.

    2. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

      Aww, thanks Ms Chandler Bong! And you have inspired my name for posts, so double thanks.

      I really appreciate your comment, and I am so glad that you are in a better place now. I have realized that there was a lot of toxicity that had been building up, and I did need to get some emotional distance.

      I’ll post more of an update at the top

  9. Janeric*

    From a purely selfish angle, I think it might be a lot of fun to work a notice period here. Skimp on your work transfer documentation. Respond to most questions with “honestly, that was Chandler’s area, I can’t really provide any specifics, but I’d look at his process documents.” Work 40 hour weeks. Delete every long-term plan for managing things from your brain the day before you give notice. Be extremely polite and relaxed. Take your team out for lunch and/or coffee and tell them what great work they’re doing.

    1. ferrina*

      Agree with most of this, but I’d say do a decent transfer document. Those are more likely to impact your coworkers than your boss (or the Powers That Be). Usually when someone is let go, boss just points at someone and says “You! Take on their work!” Help them out if you can. And once it’s written down, do not answer any questions- just point to the document.

      Definitely take your team out to lunch and give them your honest assessment of everything! How wonderful they are, how not wonderful the company is, if there’s any buried bodies they should know about….

  10. Bryce With A Y*

    In my opinion, giving reasonable notice when you leave is less a favor to your organization and more a favor to your coworkers and your boss, as well as yourself, to tie up loose ends and hand off projects you’re working on.

    Your coworkers and boss will appreciate that you, for example, ran, organized and updated the monthly veeblefetzer report and handed it off to Wakeen with instructions on how to run it in the future. They’ll remember that when giving references and especially should they move on and be in a position to work with you in the future.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this.

      We had a guy walk out without notice years ago. He was fine as an employee and likable as a person but now everyone remembers him as the guy who left our other two IT people, who are also good employees and likable people, in the lurch. And our employer is a nice place to work (we heard he got offered a contractor position somewhere else with really high pay, so I’m sure it was a good move for him).

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, exactly. The notice is so there can be as much of a graceful transition as possible.

      If the LW wants to make sure someone in the company knows the reason for leaving, the exit interview is the place for that for that to happen.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      “I’ll show my company how painful it is to be a coworker left in the lurch by leaving all my coworkers in the lurch” may not be the best masterplan.

      “I’ll get a great job at a company with openings and poach all my great coworkers/former team from OldCompany” seems a better one.

      1. ferrina*


        I left a great transition plan at Toxic OldJob. All of my duties were documented, handed off, and the new owners were properly trained.

        But the biggest thing I had been doing was shielding my department from Bananapants Leadership. After I left, the team got the full force of the lunacy. There was 80% turnover in the department within a year of me leaving. A few years later, the CEO that had been driving that clown car got forced out from the company he founded.

  11. NothappyinNY*

    I was laid off with VERY generous severance (and was doing the happy dance, I was afraid they work me to the bone and then let me go), but the agreement I signed said I could not disclose the severance.

    Yes, there are legitimate business reasons why IT people, people with control over bank accounts are asked to leave immediately.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      You couldn’t disclose the severance? I wonder if that bumps against the NLRA rules about not restricting workers from sharing compensation information.

  12. LawDog*

    I’ve always thought that giving people notice of their pending termination but expecting them to continue working beyond the time/day they’re given said notice is incredibly cruel.

    Even if made clear it’s an economic layoff…there’s still often shame and embarrassment accompanying the layoff. While yes, it’s economic, it also makes clear that when Bob is laid off for economic reasons that he is less valuable to the company than those who remain. Making him roam the halls “transitioning projects” is horrible. Good, in-touch managers know the work their subordinates are doing and can pivot those assignments to other employees are gone. It’s the old “beer truck preparation”…if Bob is struck by a beer truck, what happens with the work and ongoing projects? If you don’t know, you’re not doing your job as a manager.


    1. CurdEatinCheesehead*

      Yeah, I agree it’s more humane to just lay off Bob (and give him severance) so that he can work on his OWN “transitioning project” of finding a new job. Transitioning work projects to other team members can be challenging; figuring out how you (as an individual) are going to break the news to your family, find a new job, and make ends meet is infinitely more stressful.
      To your second point about the beer truck…that’s also why I’m a fan of having information accessible to other team members, whether it’s cloud-based or another format. I understand the scope of some projects makes that impractical (or if you work with highly sensitive information, like many government positions requiring a clearance). But there should never be one “failure point”, where one specific person’s departure could have catastrophic consequences to the business.

    2. AnonForThis*

      The first time I wrote in to AskAManager was because my company fired me and, instead of severance, offered to let me just continue working there for the next three months. Their non-compete blocked me out of the field in the entire state, so I absolutely needed that time to job search, but I was a mess. So I spent those three months trying to cope with shame, anger, anxiety and, oh yes, being an excellent and diligent employee at a job that had already fired me.

      I tried to set up meetings to teach others on my team about my areas of expertise, but my manager said that there wasn’t much so it could all be done within my last week. After more than 5 years of employment. Ouch.

      1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

        Oh that is terrible! Three months and still on a non-compete. That is definitely unreasonable.

        1. AnonForThis*

          The non-compete was 2 years.

          Of course, the really problematic part of it was that Toxic!Company had an “anti-poaching” policy that said you weren’t allowed to quit and immediately work for one of their customers or vendors; you had to wait a year before applying. They also pretended that the people they had fired had “chosen to resign”, so they applied that policy to people they’d fired as well. They were also so dominant in their field that every entity in the field in that entire region of the US was in their customer or vendor network, and they were absolutely petty enough to blackball either the former employee OR the entity that hired them.

          I tell people who go to work for Toxic!Company to have an exit strategy, since they give out golden handcuffs but lead parachutes.

          1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

            That is top-level evil! I hope you are at a better company now

            1. AnonForThis*

              I am, thank you! I didn’t realize it was possible to be this calm and relaxed at work.

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        FWIW for anyone else in the US reading this, non-compete agreements are pretty much unenforceable. The courts agree. Compete away!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I’m in Finland and here companies have become very careful about which employees they subject to non-competes. If such an employee leaves and isn’t allowed to accept another position in their field, they’re essentially given severance for that whole period. A gardening leave of 6 months on full salary doesn’t sound too bad.

        2. AnonForThis*

          I need to stop calling it a non-compete. It had nothing to do with competition. It was more of an… anti-poaching agreement enforced by threat of being blackballed in the industry. Yeah, it’s as sketchy and coercive as it sounds. It was Toxic!Company’s solution to people quitting after training to find jobs at more reasonable places.

          Unfortunately, I don’t think you can challenge it in court unless you can find a customer willing to nuke their relationship with Toxic!Company by hiring you against their wishes.

    3. Spacewoman Spiff*

      Agreed. About 10 years ago I was laid off but expected to work the next two months. The org framed this as a kindness (and they did give severance as well, so I effectively had 3.5 months to job search) but it was so embarrassing and demoralizing to go back in that office when everyone knew I’d been laid off. Having to sit at my desk while my manager interviewed for my replacement (because, yeah, he’d restructured his team org chart to hire for “new roles” that were identical to the roles he’d just eliminated)…there were a lot of happy hour lunches in my last two months.

      1. allathian*

        Urgh, that sucks.

        I work for the government, and here at least I know that they can’t lay me off and hire someone else to do the same job. They can basically only lay me off if they decide to eliminate my position entirely and outsource the job. If I do something bad enough that they can fire me for cause, they’re free to hire a replacement.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        Someone I used to work with ended up at our shared job after her previous employer announced their team was being made redundant (they were closing the location, I think) 18 months before they actually let them go! They stopped assigning the team work, but they weren’t clear on the timeline (I’m guessing they had thought they could get out of the lease sooner than they actually could) so they just sat around in the increasingly empty office chatting and waiting for the axe to fall.

    4. Melicious*

      Yes, exactly this. If they’re getting severance pay, not having to work out their notice is BETTER for them. They don’t have to continue working knowing they don’t have a job any more, they might be angry and embarrassed and not want to talk about it with coworkers, and (most importantly!) they can spend that time JOB SEARCHING instead of working. This is assuming they’re getting severance pay, which there doesn’t seem to be evidence they aren’t.

    5. Bast*

      On the contrary, if someone is not getting any severance pay, I think it is more of a mercy to give them a head’s up. Many people are struggling and are a couple of paychecks away from disaster; even just an extra two weeks to start applying, canceling extras that can be canceled, etc can make a big difference. I was laid off once, and given the 2 week notice in reverse. I counted it as a small mercy as I needed to have some kind of paycheck coming in, and abruptly losing the ability to pay my bills would have been more devastating. The company gave me all the time I needed to attend interviews and such that occurred during my last 2 weeks.

  13. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

    People with lots of access are, in my experience, frequently let go immediately and given severance, rather than being told their position would be eliminated as of a specific future date. (My current company does the “Your last date will be X” approach but the past few places I’ve worked it’s been “your last day is today”). They don’t want to run the risk of angry, panicked people either damaging something (even if there are backups, someone dropping the production database is going to do damage) or taking something they should no longer have access to (downloading code or customer or financial information). It’s just a different approach, not a worse one.

  14. Kabal*

    LW, you are taking it personally. That’s totally understandable because your company clearly doesn’t care about their people and is being intellectually dishonest to the remaining employees. It might help you to reframe it by thinking, the company is only thinking about themselves, so I will think only about myself. In this case it means give the typical two week notice. You don’t even have to work hard during it. Do what you want while you’re there. Don’t do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it’s what is best for you.

  15. Not Anish Kapoor*

    I left a company with zero notice once (it was in 2020 at the very start of everything shutting down for Covid and no one really knew what was happening yet. I was afraid that I would give notice at my old job, then have something happen because of Covid and the new job would withdraw their offer, and then I’d be stuck with no job). The owner and managers at the old job were pretty terrible people, and the last person who gave their notice was walked out the door immediately without pay for the 2 week notice period they had given, so I didn’t feel too bad about not giving them any notice. I left detailed instructions and all of my login info for the person who I knew would have to cover my tasks until they found a replacement, because I didn’t want her to suffer any more than she already suffered by working there.

    My advice to OP if they decide to go through with not giving any notice would be to leave behind as much accessible information for your team as possible if you’re trying not to impact them negatively. And maybe even offer to let one or two specific people text you with questions in the aftermath if you’re comfortable with doing that.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      In this kind of situation, where the company has shown that it will screw over people who quit with notice, I see no problem with not giving notice. Glad you got out of there! If there’s no strong reason to not give notice, it’s usually better to do so. If only to not have to deal with any unexpected consequences.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep. This is a different situation than what OP is describing. When a company shows that they won’t let you work out your 2-week notice (which is a courtesy to the company), then yes, act accordingly.

        OP describes what is actually pretty normal layoff procedure- it’s really rare to have someone laid off then ask them to keep working. I’ve only really seen it for really high level people (C-Suite), and even then it was 3 days of supervised meeting to transition over all necessary documents and information, then they were on garden leave for the rest of it (with their IT credentials already revoked).

        The only other time I’ve seen someone work after receiving a layoff notice was when she had been with the company for 20 years and was already known for doing the bare minimum of work. We’re pretty sure she didn’t even know how to access the database she was supposed to work in, since she kept asking the junior staff to update it for her.

        1. Civil Serpent*

          Just goes to show how different it is in the public service – at least where I am. Layoffs happen, but there is often a fair bit of notice and people work through it. Often, people affected by layoffs will find a job elsewhere in the public service. Plus, I think there could be real legal consequences for messing around.

  16. raincoaster*

    Letter writer, I like your style. That says d, Alison is right.

    You could write an op/ed, possibly pseudonymous, about your experience and offer it to one of the tech industry publications. That might echo longer and harder.

    1. Victoria*

      Unless there is a lot more going on than the LW has shared here, there is nothing in this story that would interest a tech industry publication in the slightest. Companies were acquired and, as an unsurprising result, people were laid off. It happens literally ever day.

      1. raincoaster*

        Well, you’re talking to the editor of a tech publication, so allow me to suggest perhaps having less confidence in this particular opinion going forward.

        The events are not the point. The power shift in a radically changing labour market is the point.

    2. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

      Hi all! Thank you so much for all of your comments!

      Let me give you all a couple of updates and answer a couple of common questions:

      * I don’t know how much severance my coworkers were given, although I do believe they are given at least some.

      * People who give notice are typically (to my knowledge, always) allowed to work their notice period.

      * And to everyone who mentioned exit interviews, yeah – that was the main thing convincing me that giving no notice would probably be the wrong thing.

      A few updates:
      As many of you have noted, I was clearly frustrated and exhausted when I wrote this letter. I did take an immediate emotional step back (while still working) and some vacation time before making any other sudden changes. Which was a really good idea because this particular straw has had a few more consequences:

      * Monica is no longer in my reporting structure. She is still at the company, but in a different division (probably not a direct consequence, but relevant to me, anyway)

      * The other team members I was worried would leave, actually gave notice before I could

      * I have a new manager and a new division manager, both of whom are far more supportive

      I am still at the job (as you may have guessed from the username). There has been so much turmoil and turnover that no one can really pretend that things are ok. I’ve used the emotional space I’ve taken (I really was too emotionally invested) to really think about what has been frustrating me with my job and what my job would need to look like in order to be something I can enjoy and commit to, and what my job would need to look like to be able to support my team (and myself) the way that I want to.

      I’ve had some frank discussions with my managers, and do feel like there may be a path forward. I am cautiously optimistic, at the moment, and am (mostly) waiting to see how things develop over the next month.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Thanks for the update! I’m glad to hear you’ve found a bit of emotional distance, and that the management changes seem to be positive so far.

        1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

          I hope so too :) (Discussions are ongoing, so we will have to see. I think I have the right people backing me up, though, so fingers crossed)

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m glad things are looking up and also you’ve managed to get some emotional distance. It’s very human to be upset when you feel stuck in a crappy situation. Believe me, I absolutely relate to wanting to stick it to the man when you feel like they’re treating you badly. The daydreams are very satisfying, though I suspect that the reality of doing the thing usually doesn’t go how we want. It was wise to take some time – including time away from work – to give real thought to the underlying issues and what you want your work life to be.

  17. Richard Hershberger*

    Beside the point, but I am intrigued by the technique of putting a meeting on someone’s calendar 0 to 15 minutes before the meeting. I have never had a job with this sort of calendar, and am honestly unclear on how this would work. It seems to suggest that the employees are expected to sit at their computers and watch the calendar, just in case something is added to it with no notice.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Outlook will pop up and tell me there’s a meeting starting now, or in 15 minutes, if it’s just been added. But yeah, if I’m in the bathroom or in a high-focus block of time writing in my own little world, I might not see it right away.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Even if you haven’t seen the email invite or accepted the meeting, you will get the reminder that the meeting is starting. So as long as you are sitting at your desk, you will find out that the meeting is happening. But if you’re not at your desk, you won’t.

    3. Helewise*

      Same here. I don’t have notifications on because I need to be able to focus; I probably wouldn’t see that in time to attend my own firing.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah if someone tried this with me, it’d be an unresponsive disappointment to them. But I’m on my feet a lot in my role.

    5. CTT*

      This happens to me a lot, but 99% of the time it’s because I’m on a call, something bonkers happens, and there’s a flurry of “we need to have an internal call to discuss what just happened right after this” emails, and the timing is usually such that I get the meeting invite and 5-minute reminder simultaneously.

    6. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

      Yeah, it’s not a great system. People will often send a direct text or message to someone who is on the invite list but not currently present

    7. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      My company does this but the expectation around those is basically “we’re having a call about something that just came up, can you jump on?” Not “be available at all times.” It’s commonly understood for us that if you get an unexplained meeting in the next 15 minutes it’s the equivalent of someone knocking on your office door and asking if you’re free to join something ad hoc. Sometimes you’re not at your desk, and sometimes you have more pressing work.

    8. TG*

      Oh that’s the tactic – you know it’s coming when barely any notice and it’s an HR or VP meeting…

    9. Nina from Corporate Accounts Payable*

      I was yanked out of a meeting, but I was given a month or two and in the interim found another role within the organization. I guess there’s no easy way to do it, but it was embarrassing to be called out by the guy we called the Grim Reaper who was communicating the cuts at the time for the “Operational Excellence” initiative. It became a verb around the office – as in “did you hear Sally was Op-Ex’d”. Years later after I eventually left the company, the Grim Reaper was cut. Wonder if he was pulled out of a meeting when he was told.

  18. Throwaway Account*

    OP, I’d really love to know more. Did the folks who got let go with no notice get severance pay? What happens when others give 2 weeks notice; are they let go that day and did they get paid for their full notice period?

    I think you should consider those things and give 2 weeks’ notice. But before you do, try to document a few key things that will be important to your coworkers in case you are let go immediately.

    I’m sorry for your awful workplace!

  19. Medium Sized Manager*

    This is why I feel trends like Malicious Compliance and Petty Revenge do a disservice. It causes so many people to build this massive scene in their heads when, in reality, most of these will be pretty boring outcomes. I’ve had coworkers leave who were convinced they were the glue that held the company together, and we have always figured out a way to move on. This company has already shown that it can and will do the same – the team just has to decide whether or not they want to be part of it.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I think a lot of the time when we’re tempted to be petty, the other person doesn’t care, and won’t notice. In this situation, that’s definitely the case. OP needs to lean into thinking about the people they appreciate and who reciprocates that appreciation.

      1. Pam*

        My sister had this amazing quote from her diary when she was 10 years old:

        “Today T and A didn’t invite me to play with them during morning recess. I didn’t speak to them all day. They didn’t notice.”

    2. ferrina*

      Unfortunately yes. The last person I worked with who quit with no notice caused a minor headache for me (her coworker) and my boss felt no pain whatsoever. The C-Suite that had made the person’s life a misery barely even noticed her absence. I spent a couple of months taking on her work as well as my own, then the workload leveled out again.

      That said, I’ve had a couple instances where my leaving triggered the eventual firing of my former boss. But in each case the boss was already there on borrowed time- my leaving just became a catalyst to the inevitable. (I also lead a life that is very weird in general. I am more likely to be a statistical anomaly than to be in the majority- it’s kind of annoying, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when things go normal)

    3. Alhe*

      Yes, with all of these stories like “I quit and they were completely screwed and had to hire five people to replace me”, it would be interesting to hear the other side.

      1. Medium Sized Manager*

        I just find it very interesting that every single person is the glue that holds a company together, and all of their colleagues are idiots who cannot survive without them. There’s a really strong “hero/savior” complex to almost all of these stories that doesn’t match up with any workplace I’ve ever been part of.

  20. ImprobableSpork*

    With what’s been in tech lately, I wouldn’t assume that they are getting severance, or that they’re even able to keep their health insurance until the end of the month. The tech companies that are doing layoffs the right way do them en masse – figure out what a responsible headcount is, make a list, and follow the law. Companies where people disappear one at a time without warning … the cruelty is intentional. I know way too many Joeys, Chandlers, and Rachel’s right now (and my company is trying to hire a few of them).

    1. I Have RBF*

      The saddest thing about all of this is a simple fact: You can’t cut your way to profitability.

      Some companies will “adjust” (reorg) every year, usually after annual reviews. One of them is pretty large and well known, and does this to stay nimble. That’s almost to be expected, and is usually less than 5%.

      If a company is having layoffs every quarter? Run. They are a drain circler. If the workforce keeps shrinking several quarters in a row, they will soon be past fat and flesh, and be cutting into the bones and heart of the company.

      Companies that go through mergers may need to do several rounds as they “right-size”, but that should be over after a year. If they still “pruning” after two years, even if it was the mating of elephants, and still cutting departments and projects? That’s bad news.

      All of this is IME, IMO, and YMMV.

  21. EA*

    This sounds really frustrating, but my take is that yes, it would be unprofessional of you to resign with no notice without a larger reason. You’re not going to be able to change the culture of this workplace, so it’s better to set yourself up for a positive recommendation in the future. And no, do not tell anything to other company employees that you don’t want management to know. With a foot out the door, it’s time to be selfish and just think about your professional future, not your colleagues or the rest of the business.

  22. Cold Snap*

    One of my previous employers was like this, of course there are always Reasons, but the thing that baffles me is the employer is purposefully creating an environment where people feel they are expendable, and can and will be let go suddenly. Mine would say absolutely nothing other than ‘so and so doesn’t work here anymore’ and it made everyone feel like all the turnover (which was high, about 35%) were firings (they weren’t). I know there’s some legal caution to be had, but c’mon. At least wish resigners well to signal it was their choice! This approach seems like it harms the employer quite a bit. In my case, I had complete distrust in my employer by the end.

  23. HonorBox*

    OP, I really feel for you and your coworkers. This place seems particularly awful, and the loss of knowledge hurts the business. But letting someone go and walking them immediately isn’t at all uncommon, and expected in many industries. Provided the employees who were walked were treated fairly (i.e. severance), I don’t think I’d wage any sort of war in your departure. Resign and give notice. The company may choose to have you end your work on the spot. But you’ll show the remaining coworkers both that you were trying to help them (by sticking around 2 weeks to help them) and show them the right way to go about leaving. It may not follow you going forward. But it might. And it might give a prospective employer some thought about you that you don’t want them to have. And for those who might stay in the industry, you’re giving them a road map to follow so they’re in better position when they interview with other companies.

  24. Czhorat*

    I think MagentaSky was VERY accurate with this above: it’s who YOU are and not who THEY are.

    I’ve never left without giving notice for multiple reasons:

    First is that I see myself as a professional, with professional behavior. It’s considered the right thing to do, it fits norms, and I can look myself in the mirror and feel good about the person looking back at me.

    Second, selfishly, is that you never know who you’ll again encounter. It’s a small world, and there’s always a chance that someone you burned by walking out with no notice will be in a position to either give or withhold help from you. I don’t see this as the real reason, but as a consequence of the first; if you’re the best person you can be and do the right thing at all times then you needn’t fear leaving a bad impression. People will see you as upstanding and decent *because you are* and will treat you accordingly.

    Should companies do better? Of course. If they don’t it needn’t mean we sink to their level.

    1. ferrina*

      I’ll add a third reason:

      Gloating. When I left Toxic OldJob, I was walking on air for the last two weeks and everyone could see it. I was laughing in every meeting, cracking jokes, and smiling so much my face hurt. It was such a stark change from the constant stress I had been under. I didn’t mock anyone, but the change in me spoke volumes. Bonus was when I told my terrible boss what I would be making at my new job- at least 15% more than her. The look on her face was soooooo worth it!

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, taking a victory lap isn’t always the classiest thing to do, but it’s hard to resist and if you do it in the modest and reasonable way you seem to have then it can be very satisfying while not giving anyone cause to be upset with you.

        What are they going to say? “Ferrina gave notice and during the last two weeks was … pleasant and happy!” *clutches pearls*

  25. Anonamouse*

    I’ve seen many employees over my time in tech get frustrated and resign with zero notice. They feel they are really sticking it to “the man.” You know who they really stick it to? The co-workers who are left behind holding the bag. The company doesn’t give a rat’s patootie and it won’t change anything on the way they handle layoffs. But your remaining co-workers will appreciate you even more if you give your two weeks notice, and assuming you’re allowed to stay, provide as much turnover as humanly possible. If you can, provide your turnover materials on a common repository they can access after you go, and set that up prior to resigning in case you get perp-walked immediately.

    1. linger*

      Though, in many scenarios where an employee reaches that level of frustration, the company doesn’t give a ratatouille about those remaining coworkers, either, and anyone who can is already actively job-hunting too, which limits the personal impact of the employee’s departure. Loyalty to coworkers shouldn’t be a strong enough reason to stay in an untenable workplace; or rather, in that case, loyalty to coworkers may be better expressed by helping them get out too.

  26. sunny days are better*

    I lived this exact same thing.

    I remember when over 80% of my team was laid off (such a long story) without the brass realizing that the people they were laying off were on particular teams(!) and the few of us remaining were left to pick up the pieces. We dealt with offshore employees and wound up taking over 5 years to finally finish the release.

    It was not the first or last time at my company that people who were the only ones who knew things were let go and often in the middle of something. I was still oblivious to the fact of how toxic it was and when they finally drew my number in the “layoff lottery,” it turned out to be one of the best work things that ever happened to me. I was in the middle of writing an important doc (and had been a for a couple of days) that went into oblivion and I have no idea what the team did after that.

    I would advise you to find a better place, give your 2 weeks notice, help your team transition and go.

  27. Lauren*

    I’m so glad you answered this question because there have been a large upswing of Tik Tok videos of people advising young professionals to quit without notice for the same reason.

    The more I see these types of videos the more uncomfortable I become. The advice is always framed around the idea of “you’re being an advocate for yourself” and “don’t be a doormat”, but I tend to think it’s irresponsible advice. And you wouldn’t be changing anything with this kind of protest. Companies will continue to terminate with no notice because that simply makes sense. It would be horrible to force someone to work who just lost their job.

    1. allathian*

      Depends on the company and on how the whole thing is handled. If the company’s toxic, sure, the faster you get out the better. But in a reasonably collegial environment where the genuine reason for layoffs is financial it doesn’t have to be like that. But it requires that the employer treats the person who’s been laid off decently and the manager proactively tells the employee that they’re willing to give them a good reference, and that the employee is encouraged to submit applications and interview during work hours (doesn’t necessarily help much with two weeks’ notice but with longer notice periods it’s different). And most important of all, the employee isn’t assigned any new work, any work they do for the company is intended to complete what can be completed and to facilitate the handover.

  28. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

    Ack! Posted this to the wrong thread. Repeated at the top-level (I hope!) this time

    Hi all! Thank you so much for all of your comments!

    Let me give you all a couple of updates and answer a couple of common questions:

    * I don’t know how much severance my coworkers were given, although I do believe they are given at least some.

    * People who give notice are typically (to my knowledge, always) allowed to work their notice period.

    * And to everyone who mentioned exit interviews, yeah – that was the main thing convincing me that giving no notice would probably be the wrong thing.

    A few updates:
    As many of you have noted, I was clearly frustrated and exhausted when I wrote this letter. I did take an immediate emotional step back (while still working) and some vacation time before making any other sudden changes. Which was a really good idea because this particular straw has had a few more consequences:

    * Monica is no longer in my reporting structure. She is still at the company, but in a different division (probably not a direct consequence, but relevant to me, anyway)

    * The other team members I was worried would leave, actually gave notice before I could

    * I have a new manager and a new division manager, both of whom are far more supportive

    I am still at the job (as you may have guessed from the username). There has been so much turmoil and turnover that no one can really pretend that things are ok. I’ve used the emotional space I’ve taken (I really was too emotionally invested) to really think about what has been frustrating me with my job and what my job would need to look like in order to be something I can enjoy and commit to, and what my job would need to look like to be able to support my team (and myself) the way that I want to.

    I’ve had some frank discussions with my managers, and do feel like there may be a path forward. I am cautiously optimistic, at the moment, and am (mostly) waiting to see how things develop over the next month.

    1. Astor*

      Hey OP, you definitely sound like you’re doing better now and I hope it leads to a great new position for you!

      1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

        Thank you, Astor! I hope so, too. (And if it’s not to be at this company, then hopefully the next)

    2. TG*

      I’m am glad you’ve been able to get some distance and not make a move you’d regret. What I will say is the signs at this place are not good. I was laid off in a very similar way – SME, very good at my role but laid off for budget reasons and took a lot of institutional knowledge with me….

      1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

        I appreciate the warning, and I’m so sorry you went through that kind of lay off. Short-sighted decision making like that just infuriates me. I am cautiously optimistic, at the moment, but the emphasis is on cautiously.

  29. dobradziewczynka*

    Unless there is severance involved, leave. I don’t get the antiquated view of giving notice when company’s lay off people without a thought.

    IF you are worried about your coworkers – leave notes/transition plan so they can pickup where you left off. Do that now so when you do go they are not lost.

    I have given two weeks, one week, and it one job three months and also have left the same day. Depends on the circumstances, but for the most part I think the view of giving notice should change.

  30. el l*

    OP, congrats on deciding to leave. But how they handle it isn’t about you (broadly defined).

    First – there are plenty of jobs such as IT/dev/ops, finance, where a departure is always handled that day for reasonable reasons. Don’t want people embezzling money etc.

    And quality people getting fired is upsetting and dumb, but it’s not a moral crime. There are lots of other ways they can treat people badly when firing (mass-firing people via Zoom was a quality recent example).

    But unless that’s the impetus, they’re just foolish and disorganized.

    Second, no, there are very few people whose departure mean their coworkers will leave. Because everyone else has their own financial situations, their own loyalties, and so on. Working with…you…is just a small part of the equation.

    TL;DR Leaving is actually pretty boring. And that’s not a bad thing.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I have watched about 12 people leave over the past 15 months from my very small (~120 people) division. (The head of our microbiology department’s last day was last Friday, in fact.) It’s very exciting in the moment because…tea? But then, it’s quickly forgotten. You are absolutely right. Leaving is pretty boring because people do it all the time.

  31. learnedthehardway*

    While it might feel like you were paying your employer back for their lousy treatment of other colleagues, the only real negative impact would be to you, OP. Well, also to your colleagues, who don’t deserve to be left in the lurch by you, even if their employer isn’t averse to doing so.

    Does your employer deserve it – quite possibly. Is it going to make an impact – probably not.

    If you want to say something, contact HR and tell them you want an exit interview. Tell them flat out that you are leaving because of the lousy way the company treated past employees. Tell them that it severely affected the success of the team and affected the success of the business.

    Don’t sabotage your future self’s need for references from your managers and for goodwill from colleagues just to make a point that nobody is really going to hear.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      True, but also not LW’s problem. My former employer’s problems (or their employees’ problems) are not my problems.

      This is very much a “no longer my circus, no longer my clowns” type of situation.

    2. kiki*

      Yes. In the long-term it might hurt the company more but the effects will be so late they probably won’t really make the immediate connection to LW’s departure and feel like they’re being punished/reaping what they sow/ etc.

      This company’s leadership has also shown repeatedly that they insulate themselves from negative repercussions by pushing the additional workload and back onto lower-level employees without pay increases or anything that would cause the company’s bottom line to take a hit in anyway. It’s likely they will do the same when LW leaves.

  32. KatKatKatKat*

    Would it feel good in the moment? Probably.
    Would it harm your coworkers? Quite likely.
    Would you regret it in the long-term? I don’t know you well enough to know.

    Don’t risk it – just give two weeks.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      100% this.

      If they show you the door after you put in your resignation, you at least have the opportunity to show your next employer that you were the bigger person in this situation. Hopefully that will count for something.

  33. Chauncy Gardener*

    I think something that might be relevant here is if an employee gives their two week notice, does the employer let them work their notice period or walk them to the door immediately? If they walk them out, then that is way less incentive to give the employer two weeks notice. But otherwise, I agree with everyone above who mentioned it would be a kindness to your remaining team to give notice.

  34. Cee Es*

    Begin treated egregiously? I’d say only in exceptional and well-reported instances. A good example is the formerly Twitter.
    F-you money? Sure, but the inexperienced folks are much less likely to have this amount. Some highly specialized and experienced folks who live frugally probably have F-you money.
    Professional options that negate any real consequences to you? Only a few could negate the consequences. Again, highly specialized and experienced folks may have such professional options.
    Extenuating circumstances? If it’s a grave illness in the family, sure thing!

    The inexperienced folks are in the short end of the stick for sure.

  35. Hermione Danger*

    I’m reminded of–but can’t find–the person who resigned with 2 hours’ notice in retaliation for their employer giving them 2 hours’ notice of a demotion.

    1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

      I was actually tempted to resign on the spot with a “Yep, that’s it. I’m out of here.” But my sense of self-preservation was (thankfully) too strong. Consoled myself with writing up this question instead :)

      1. anecdata*

        I definitely understand the impulse

        If it helps, you’re being scrupulously professional and giving notice if you do leave preserves your reputation for good judgement which a) makes it more likely they take what you say in an exit interview seriously and b) maintains your reputation in the field so you can give compelling references to your peers who maybe should also be looking

      2. Bruce*

        Back in 1984 my boss’s boss hired a new guy, brought him in on a Monday, and was told that the offer was cancelled and the new guy was not going to be hired because of a big layoff that day. Boss’s boss resigned, then spent a week finding another job for the new guy who had been shafted. On his way out he told me and my boss that we might have been on the list, but that with him gone we might be kept on… and we were. That was a case where resigning on the spot was a stand-up thing to do. I hung on for a couple more years, then went to another company that was toxic in different ways :-)

      3. Hermione Danger*

        That makes complete sense. As nice as revenge quitting fantasies are, paychecks are nicer.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      The letter you’re thinking of is “I burned a bridge in a spectacular way — how do I deal with everyone talking about it?” from October 2, 2019. Definitely worth a read for anyone who hasn’t seen it before!

  36. anon_sighing*

    This is frustration pouring over. I get it. All these changes and decisions are happening above your head because the people who get to make these decisions have their own process that doesn’t involve the people below them. However, I do wonder how this process was handled in the past and are you noticing this as a change of policy or just because it’s happening at a frustrating time? Because many people are saying “there is good reason for them to do this” but I don’t see anyone asking if this is how it’s always done. This is why I think taking a week or two away from the place might be helpful and also documenting to Monica and whoever that there needs to be a way to do these layoffs without losing critical project material that’s a waste of time and money to re-create.

    As an aside, the most annoying thing in this letter (to ME!) is really Monica putting meetings on your calendar with 0-15 min notice — I don’t really care how “normal” someone will reply that is, the only people I’ve seen do this are very senior and think everyone’s time is malleable because they’re “so busy.”

    1. (OP) Friend (still) with benefits*

      Yes, thanks for asking that question, anon_sighing.

      There are a couple of reasons I reacted so strongly to this one, and part of it was that it happened at a particularly frustrating time. But a lot of it is because this is a completely different business culture than we had before acquisition.

  37. I AM a Lawyer*

    “And really, I think your point would be missed! Your employer isn’t going to think, “Oh, this is what happens when we lay people off with no notice. Lesson learned.” They’re just going to think, “Wow, Phoebe is unprofessional” and then move on. Again, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. But it’s probably not going to send the message you want.”

    I wish more people understood this.

    1. Cee Es*


      Even if the company determined that they sent the wrong folks in the layoff list, they’d just move on as well instead of “Oops, can you come back?”

  38. Mia*

    I know it’s not new, but I really really really hate the move to offshore. Speaking as a tech lead who is onshore it is exhausting.

  39. Grenelda Thurber*

    I’ve been told unofficially that my employer (large corporation) counts on people resigning after big layoffs, which reduces the number of employees they have to lay off to meet their “goals” and also reduces the amount of severance the company has to provide. I assume it’s just human psychology that the company has noticed and takes advantage of, but still feels a bit cold-blooded.

  40. Dris*

    I get that the fact of it is, you’ll be seen as unprofessional if you quit without notice, so that’s something I agree OP needs to take into account for strategic reasons. But I have never understood *why* it’s unprofessional, beyond it simply being about the power imbalance between workers and employers. Because jobs that are “at will” are contracts that can be terminated at any time and for any reason (barring discrimination). Workers often don’t get notice or severance, so why on earth should it be the norm to think workers *owe* any notice to employers? Even concern about coworkers is somewhat misplaced, because owners/upper management should hire and train adequately to compensate for turnover anyways, so it’s fully on them if one person leaving is disastrous. I know that’s not how it works now, but I genuinely think it would be a good idea to let go of expectations that workers give more to their employers than they can expect in return. I’ll never judge anyone for giving no notice.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I genuinely think it would be a good idea to let go of expectations that workers give more to their employers than they can expect in return

      Louder for the ~people in the back~ WHITE GUYS WHO RUN THIS PLANET!

    2. Random manager*

      Yep. All of this.

      It’s one of the many reasons why I hate the entire reference checking process, too, and its in-built assumption that people in management roles are inherently honest, objective, in possession of a 100% accurate memory, and will provide nothing but useful, accurate, unbiased information that should be considered.

      Placing all the burden on those with the least amount of power in a situation (that is, workers) while the powerful parties who benefit from the structures they created to suit themselves is both absurd and unfair.

      Those managers and employers who complain the loudest about “professionalism” and that workers always have to give employers and management notice also tend to be the ones who screw workers over the hardest when ending employment. They also tend to lay off and fire all the wrong people, which is so confusing. Is it arrogance or just stupidity or incompetence?

      Just like remote and flexible work, this is almost entirely about power.

    3. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      Yep. Smacks of “it’s unprofessional to discuss your salary with colleagues” and “it’s unprofessional to leave on time.”

      Until there’s sufficient pushback across many industries, this constraint will stay in place. Let’s keep asking why and talking about alternatives, though. Maybe point out that it’s unprofessional to eliminate paid lunch breaks and pensions. It’s unprofessional to give employees less than 4 weeks paid vacation per year or 16 months parental leave. It’s unprofessional to sue for the right to dictate what healthcare employees can use their insurance to access.

  41. Penguino*

    Hiring manager here. I always ask how much notice someone gave when leaving. I take the additional step of asking about their general performance and attitude during their notice period.

    We’ve had people who left without notice, or their productivity noticeably slumps after they give notice. A lot of the time these same people caused problems in other ways throughout their employment. People who care about their professional reputation and have decent work ethics will also care about leaving on a good note and tidying things up for their coworkers. If someone leaves badly, that is a big red flag for me and I generally wouldn’t hire.

    1. Happily Retired*

      I’m curious – do you always believe what the previous company said? – specifically in terms of work performance during the notice period. I think I would take any reports in this category with a 5-lb bag of salt. (1) HR is talking, and they have no idea how the employee behaved during the notice period. (2) Former manager is talking, and they never bothered to supervise the employee who has left, or supervised badly. (3) Anyone at former company is talking, and they’re malicious for whatever ridiculous reason.

      I thought that this type of possible scenario was why so many companies will only confirm dates of hire and (possibly) whether they’d rehire the former employee. I would think that it’s impossible to either prove or disprove a description of behavior.

      1. Random manager*

        Yep. All of this.

        I’m a manager and I hire people. Even after many years, I’m yet to actually see the point in reference checks and blindly trusting what a complete stranger is telling you about a candidate is accurate, objective, useful, or free from some sort of motive or vendetta that will rob you of a good candidate, and a good candidate of a job.

        The fact that they happen to be a manager is irrelevant, as anyone who reads this website should know, even if they’ve been lucky enough to avoid bad managers themselves.

        Back door references are even more of an issue, as there’s even less transparency and culpability, and contacting someone cold without warning is a recipe for inaccurate information.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I want to agree, but this is entirely situational.

      If someone leaves a great position for an even greater position and spends their last two weeks setting up everyone else for success, then that’s definitely a great thing.

      But someone who left a dumpster fire because they found a better paying job delivering figurative not literal pizza? I like someone who is willing to take a risk to get out of a bad situation.

      We’ve had people who left without notice, or their productivity noticeably slumps after they give notice. A lot of the time these same people caused problems in other ways throughout their employment.

      If this is a pattern, I would be concerned about the working conditions here. And why isn’t somebody addressing these issues they are causing and either making this a better place to work or (assuming these aren’t related to the working conditions) weeding these people out.

      People who care about their professional reputation and have decent work ethics will also care about leaving on a good note and tidying things up for their coworkers.

      I 100% agree here, but as we’ve learned, this depends a lot on the employer and the working conditions and work culture they’ve established. Not everybody can swim uphill.

      If someone leaves badly, that is a big red flag for me and I generally wouldn’t hire.

      If you are asking their former employer (who may have an axe to grind) if someone left badly, then you are only hearing half (or less) of the story. (Ask me how I know.)

      I don’t know, maybe I’m reading this wrong, but it seems you focus a lot on what happens when someone gives notice. Maybe that indicates that you have issues with retention more than your candidates have with giving notice. Something seems off to me here.

  42. Bruce*

    In my decades of work in tech, zero-notice layoffs are the norm. Only one time did a company give people notice, and that was because they wanted to avoid paying severance because it was a big layoff. I think they had a bad experience with that time and did not do it again. HOWEVER… management often shoots themselves in the foot, and what the LW describes sounds like bad management… for example, yanking people out who are critical team members in the middle of a project. Or firing someone and replacing them immediately with completely new overseas staff who have no background (and I work with overseas staff a LOT, we plan for how to ramp them up and so far have not been replacing existing staff with them). So I understand the frustration. Still better to give notice and not tell anyone until you give notice.

    1. Bruce*

      To be clear, in my experience zero-notice layoffs included severance pay. I realize that is not a rule. I’m extremely lucky that I’ve never had to lay off anyone, I’ve had a project cancelled but everyone had other projects to work on. I’ve come _this_close_ to being layed off myself, and I’ve seen it happen several times. In the last 20 years most of the time it has been more of a quiet pruning than a mass lay0ff, the exception being when my current employer acquired my former employer and gave severance to most of the Sales and Admin staff.

  43. Here’s a story*

    My husband used to work for a boss at a company who was petty, spiteful, domineering, micromanaging…..really all the qualities that make horrible managers (he was, eventually, demoted, but years too late). He had a reputation for letting people go on the spot when they put in notice. He mostly made this a game, I think, because the company had “unlimited PTO” so there was no payout. So if you put in two weeks notice you got nothing when he dismissed you that day. When my husband was offered a new job he negotiated a start date a month off. My son already had a surgery during the time period, so that was pre-approved leave (not that stopped crazy boss from demanding things while my child was in the operating room, but I digress) and of course my husband didn’t want to go weeks with no salary (or unemployment, which is a fraction of what he made). So he decided to go for a single week notice. Unfortunately, crazy boss found out my husband was leaving through the grapevine. My husband managed to get his leave in before getting “fired.” But as expected, crazy boss immediately terminated his employment. It worked out fine to not have a salary for a week, but the whole situation leading up to it was so stressful because it’s not in my husband’s nature to not provide a lot of notice (he have a month’s notice at his prior employer), but he was in this psychotic situation and did what he felt he had to do. So I think OP should consider what would happen if they were dismissed immediately- is there a payout of unused leave? Would you be salary less? People have to do what they have to do. I think some kind of notice – even if it’s a week – would be good. Yes, in a perfect world two is the minimum. But not everyone works for clinically sane individuals.

  44. Raisin*

    Just quit. They have shown they don’t care and will keep showing it. The only way to start making change is if we hit companies where it hurts: money. Until then they’ll keep running around like there are no consequences to their actions.

Comments are closed.