Being able to hand in your two weeks notice letter after months or years of feeling frustrated in your job, can be so liberating. And now what you worry about is how to survive two weeks notice.
You may feel tempted to let all that pent-up anger out and tell your manager or an obnoxious coworker exactly what you think of them. Or, the idea of calling in sick four days in a row may also sound very appealing.
However, you should refrain from acting unprofessionally during your notice period since you don’t want to burn any bridges. That said, getting through a two-week notice period in a toxic work environment can be tough.
To help you navigate this challenging time like a pro, I have compiled a short guide on how to survive two weeks’ notice.
What Is the Purpose of a Notice Period?
Knowing the purpose of a notice period may make it easier for you to get through this time.
The idea behind asking employees to work a notice period is to ensure that they finish pending projects and tasks and to provide adequate time for knowledge transfer and the possible training of a successor.
The notice period also gives the company time to find an adequate replacement to take over your duties.
The amount of time needed to wrap things up will differ depending on the position and the policies of a company.
While junior staff may be required to work a short, or even no notice period, senior and executive staff are likely to work longer notice periods because of the important roles they have in a business.
Staff members who have worked for a company for an extended period of time may also be required to work a longer notice period.
Do I Have To Work My Last 2 Weeks?
Whether you’re legally bound to work a notice period depends on the terms stipulated in your work contract. It also depends on whether you have a contract to start off with.
In the U.S., many people are at-will employees, which means that they’re under no legal obligation to give notice. On the flip side, an employer is also free to let an at-will employee go without any notice.
Despite the fact that they’re not legally obliged to do so, many at-will employees choose to give their employers at least two weeks’ notice to provide both sides with some time to wrap things up.
Whether you want to act in a courteous way and work a notice period despite the fact that you’re an at-will employee, is up to you.
In my opinion, if you don’t have to start your new job right away, it may be a good idea to work a short notice period. Doing so will ensure that you leave on good terms and that there are no loose ends to worry about after you’ve left.
Employees Under Contract
If you’ve signed a contract, however, the terms of your employment will be outlined in the document, including how long your notice period is. In such an instance, you are legally obliged to comply with the terms of your contract and should work your full notice period.
Since prospective employers may call your past employers to learn more about you, you want to keep your side clean. Remember, it’s a good idea to not burn your bridges since you never know when you might need to cross those bridges again.
What To Expect When You Give Notice
Typically, when you give two weeks’ notice, an HR staff member will walk you through the necessary next steps. They will also provide you with the relevant information on outstanding issues such as your pension fund, unpaid leave, the equipment you need to return, and if and when training of your successor will take place.
The HR department may also request an exit interview with you. Many companies conduct this type of interview with departing employees to gain information regarding why they chose to leave the company. They will also ask for general feedback on the company.
Since an exit interview is not compulsory, you can opt not to participate. If you do, it’s best to stick to positive feedback where possible, in case criticism of a manager, for instance, reaches their ears and negatively affects your future references. However, if you have serious grievances with the company, an exit interview is the correct platform to air these.
In the event that you mean a lot to the company, they may try to retain you by offering you more benefits or a higher salary. In such an instance, you’ll need to weigh the pros and the cons of staying as opposed to taking on a new position.
How To Survive Two Weeks’ Notice
Many employees enter their notice period with some measure of trepidation. Apart from having to train a replacement and deal with a manager that may be angry because you chose to resign, you may also be scared that you’ll be treated differently after 2 weeks’ notice.
Unfortunately, this may indeed turn out to be the case. To ensure that your notice period runs smoothly and that you leave with your reputation intact, you need to think about how to act and react during this time.
Here are some tips on how to survive work after giving notice:
1. Act in Your Own Best Interests
Even if you’ve been working for the devil him/herself and you actually hated your job, it will be of no use to you to express your anger or walk around with vengeance in your heart for the next two weeks.
You should act in a way that’s in your own best interest and will reap the most benefits for you in the long run.
In the end, you ideally want a good reference from the company, and you also don’t want to give your enemies any reasons to badmouth you after you’ve left the company.
You don’t know what will happen in the future, or who the people you don’t get along with in the office are acquainted with or related to. So, force a smile and a friendly word when you need to.
2. Keep Busy
The surest way of sailing through your two-week notice period without any hiccups is to stay busy. Perhaps you have so many loose ends to tie up and training to do that you’ll be run off your feet anyway.
Even if you’re a junior employee who doesn’t have any major projects to complete or knowledge sharing to do, you still need to take care of administrative tasks. Making sure that you’ve copied all relevant data from your work computer, for one, should keep you busy for a while.
Apart from copying all relevant documents from the computer’s hard drive, you’ll also need to export important emails from your work email address to your private email address.
Other tasks you’ll need to take care of include ensuring that all paperwork is neatly filed, that your desk area and drawers are clean, and that you’ve updated colleagues and managers regarding outstanding tasks.
3. Keep Perspective
Just because you are putting your best foot forward, doesn’t mean that others will act in a professional manner. Jealous colleagues or spiteful managers may try to make your last two weeks as unpleasant as they possibly can.
Rather than reacting to their unprofessional behavior, it’s best to remember that this is the last two weeks that you’ll ever have to work with them, or even see their faces. You want to keep your mind focused on the new chapter of your life that lies ahead.
Instead of wasting your energy trying to deal with the toxic people around you, you can spend your time finalizing outstanding tasks and making sure that your affairs are in order. If there’s time to spare, you can start preparing yourself for your new job by enrolling in a short online course or reading relevant literature.
4. Say Thank You
Not all work environments are toxic, and even in a toxic work environment you’re bound to find kind and professional employees.
Your two-week notice period is the perfect time to give thanks where thanks is due. Remember to also thank members of staff who are more junior than you, including cleaners. A thank you will often mean much more to them than senior or executive staff.
You can express your gratitude verbally, through an email, or a thank-you card. In the event that a fellow worker or manager helped you a lot during your tenure at the company, you can thank them with a gift or by taking them for a nice lunch.
Apart from thanking those who meant a lot to you, you should aim to leave on good footing with as many people as possible. Besides the obvious reasons such as ensuring good future references and wanting to keep a good reputation, leaving on a good note will be beneficial for your overall well-being.