Many employers have policies stating that employees must provide at least two weeks’ notice of resignation. The reason, of course, is to give the employer time to hire a replacement or otherwise staff the position. Even when not required by policy, two weeks’ notice often is taken for granted as a professional courtesy.
But more and more frequently, statistics say, employees are quitting their jobs without giving advance notice. Even worse, more workers are now “ghosting” their jobs—they just stop showing up without telling anyone.
What’s behind this trend? For starters, the job market has been white hot for a long time. And, the stigma once associated with resigning without two weeks’ notice is waning, particularly among younger workers.
So what can you do to keep employees from quitting without notice?
First, don’t overreact. Most employers practice employment at will, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, without cause, and without notice. So, while you could enter into an agreement that requires the parties to provide each other with two weeks’ (or some other) advance notice of termination, most employers simply don’t want to impose such restrictions on themselves. Thus, you need to take the bad with the good.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways—both carrots and sticks—to incentivize employees to give two weeks’ notice. For example, if your company pays out accrued but unused paid time off upon separation of employment, you could condition such payments, in the event of voluntary resignation, on giving two weeks’ notice. (Any such policy should be reviewed by a lawyer to ensure compliance with the Kansas Wage Payment Act.) Another option is to adopt a policy stating that employees who resign without two weeks’ notice will be deemed ineligible for rehire.
In addition, don’t take actions that discourage employees from giving notice. For instance, if your policy states that employees are requested to provide two weeks’ notice of resignation as a courtesy, when an employee gives you notice don’t respond by discharging her immediately (unless you pay her out for the notice period). While you would have the legal right to do that (absent a contract or policy to the contrary), when other employees find out what you did—and they will find out—they might be reluctant to provide two weeks’ notice when they resign.
And, perhaps above all else, treat your employees with dignity and respect. Employees who feel they have been treated fairly are more likely to honor a policy requesting two weeks’ notice.
One final consideration. If an employee quits without notice, and you want to mention that when you receive a reference request, don’t forget about the Kansas reference immunity law. Under that law an employer has absolute immunity for disclosing only four things: date of employment; pay level; job description and duties; and wage history information. But when an employer responds in writing, to a written request from a prospective employer, it also has absolute immunity for disclosing the following information: written employee evaluations conducted prior to separation, and the reasons for separation and whether separation was voluntary or involuntary.