Time to exit: Negotiating a notice period
The prospect of ‘handing in your notice’ and formally resigning from a position can be a daunting one. This is only worsened if you are contractually obliged to work a long notice period. Around the world the average notice period can vary dramatically. In the US, most professionals are contracted to work a two week notice period, and in the UK, it is common for notice periods to sit around the one month mark. In Germany, this rises to three months.
You’ve found a new role you’d love to do, and the company love you too. You’ve been offered the job and you’d like to accept. They want you to start ASAP, so you need to negotiate your notice period. How do you do it?
KNOW YOUR CONTRACT
The first thing to do is to find a copy of your contract. In the first instance, you should confirm what your official notice period is, and any caveats of terminating your employment. Some companies require you to go on ‘gardening leave’ should your new company be a competitor, others will include covenants prohibiting you from working for certain organisations for a time period after you leave your role. It’s important for you to understand what your contract states if you are going to be able to negotiate your notice to a more workable length.
EMPATHISE WITH YOUR BOSS
Though you will have your reasons for moving on, it’s also important to consider what you are leaving behind. Your boss will now have the difficult task of filling your role, and may also have feelings of anger and betrayal around your resignation. It’s therefore important to be realistic in terms of what length of notice period you are looking to achieve. Leaving your company in a difficult situation is not a positive outcome; you never know when you may need them again. In advance of your resignation meeting, take some time to consider what you would need to handover, and realistically how long this will take you. Suggest people who are able to fulfil these elements of your role short-term once you have exited, and advise how long it may take to train up new staff. The easier you make your handover, the more likely your company are to let you go. In addition, it will show you in a positive professional light to not only your boss, but all of your colleagues too.
FIND A REPLACEMENT
This will be easier in certain circumstances than others, but a great way to help negotiate down your notice period, is by helping to source a replacement for the role. If you are able to find someone to take over before you are due to leave, your boss is much more likely to let you go – knowing that they are not being left behind and disregarded. Also advising you can be contactable on mobile with any queries after you’ve left is another way to negotiate down your notice period. If your role is not quite filled before you leave, at least your employer can be confident that you will be available should your eventual replacement have any problems.
Handing in your notice at your place of work is always difficult to do; regardless of your relationship with the company, or your tenure. There are many factors to consider, but the main thing is to remain professional and compassionate throughout negotiation to ensure both parties get the best deal. Whilst leaving a few days or weeks earlier than expected is exciting, and you are keen to get started on your new challenge, it should not be at the cost of jeopardising your relationship with your old company.
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