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Is it wrong to expect two weeks' notice?

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Question:

One of my employees left me high and dry with no notice. Isn’t two weeks’ notice the industry standard?

– Abby Singh, Owner, Canteen 900

Answer:

Like most problems, it comes down to a disconnect between expectations and reality.  You expect employees to resign with at least two weeks notice; the employee feels she or he can leave whenever.

We know it is a bad practice for employees to leave without notice, hurting them from a potential reference in the future and leaving you scrambling. But too often that lesson is learned at your expense, especially employees who may not know the expectations or disgruntled employees who are committed to never return.

Paul O’Neill, service instructor at Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management and service manager at Vetri restaurants says, “[Two weeks] should be a restaurant standard. I see the opposite [of Ms. Singh’s experience]—almost a month’s notice at some places. There’s been more of a sense of pride and responsibility or stability that’s been instilled in most workers.”

If someone leaves without notice, it is often a kneejerk reaction attributable to stress, an argument, harassment, or a general sense of not being able to take it anymore. For those problems, the main thing you can do is to create a positive work environment. Otherwise, your problem may be as simple as a lack of knowledge and expectations, especially among inexperienced workers, workers new to the country, or those new to the industry. Try adding a policy on proper resignations—or even a form or sample resignation letter—to your employee manual and introduce the idea at orientations. O’Neill says, “It’s the collapse of our society in general—there’s no dialogue anymore.”

More on restaurant resignations here.

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