Resignations: What are the real reasons?

by Lauren Acurantes19 Sep 2016
A recent study found that the manner in which an employee resigns is indicative of how well or how badly they felt treated by their direct superior. 

Anthony C. Klotz, associate professor of management at Oregon State University, and Mark C. Bolino, professor of management at University of Oklahoma, conducted a survey on “nearly 300 recently resigned employees, and over 200 managers of employees who had recently resigned” and came up with seven different resignation styles:

1)    By the book
2)    Perfunctory
3)    Grateful goodbye
4)    In the loop
5)    Avoidant
6)    Bridge burning
7)    Impulsive

Of the seven listed, Klotz and Bolino consider the first four to be on the lighter side of the resignation spectrum.

In both ‘by the book’ and ‘perfunctory’, resigning employees hand in their resignation personally and abide by the company’s standard notice period, except the latter does not offer a reason for leaving.  

A ‘grateful goodbye’ approach focuses on the employee’s gratitude and help is offered during the transition period. 

An ‘in the loop’ resignation, on the other hand, means that the employee had already informed their managers that they were leaving beforehand, removing the element of surprise.  

‘Avoidant’ resigning employees tell everyone else except their direct superior that they are leaving, while the authors described ‘bridge burning’ as employees seeking to do harm to the organisation, “often through verbal assaults”.

The final style, ‘impulsive’, they said, can arguably be described as not being a resignation at all as the employee simply walks away, without any notice whatsoever.

How a resigning employee chooses one style over another was dependent on how they felt about their direct superior as some employees saw their resignation as a way to get back at their employers, said Klotz and Bolino.

“When a company experiences a rash of ugly resignations, rather than blaming those harmful departures on employees’ character, organisations should instead consider the possibility that their employees feel mistreated and explore whether the managers involved need to learn to supervise employees more adeptly,” they concluded.

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