When you start a new job, you’ll sign a contract. Within that contract there will be information like your notice period. It’s important to keep your contract safe and readily available, especially when you start a new job search. This will have key information in it, like your notice period, starting salary and anything else you’ve agreed to. It’s there to remind you of the agreement you made between yourself and the employer, so make sure you’re honouring it when you decide to leave. But why might your notice period be so long? We’ll explain the point behind these long notice periods and what they’re for.
Why have a notice period?
Notice periods are usually in place to protect both you and the employer. You can’t decide to suddenly leave one day, and they can’t leave you in the same situation. If and when you decide to leave, the length of notice will be in your contract and make sure you acknowledge this in your resignation letter, letting your employer know when you’ll be leaving the business.
Your notice is there to ensure they can find reasonable cover for your position. They have time to find a new candidate that is able to do your job and not leave the team empty handed. Quite simple and fair, but why do some ask for 3 months?
Why such a long notice?
3 months may seem like a long period of time but for an employer, it can roll around really fast. From the moment they receive your resignation letter, they have to be on the lookout for your replacement and that can take longer than 3 months. In a perfect world, your employer is likely to want to find a replacement and have them trained by you, but that isn’t always the outcome. But they need to ensure that they have reasonable cover, no matter what that may look like.
What should you do in your notice period?
It’s very obvious to say but your notice period isn’t a time for you to sit there and watch the world pass by each day. You’re expected to do your job and sometimes a little extra. If you can and the time permits you to, it might be good to do a few things. Keep yourself in the employer’s good books, in case you ever want to come back to this company one day.
Keep doing your job - Your notice period may feel a bit weird at first but you’re still there to do a job. You’re being paid and it’s expected to carry on doing your job. But make sure you’re still putting it first. You want to continue doing your job to a good standard, even if your mind may be elsewhere during this time. Starting a new job can be stressful and confusing for some but being able to look back and see that you carried on in a professional manner can help you in future. Especially if you are wanting to return to that employer one day.
Work up a handover - One of the benefits of a 3-month notice period is that you have time. For some, a month can fly by in no time and before you know it, you have a really long list of tasks to do in a relatively short space of time. You have time to complete a few tasks here and there, write up a handover for the other members of your team and work with them to form a plan. Sometimes you’ll have someone ready to take your role as you leave but it’s not always 100%. Being able to write a handover, share your log-ins etc with the rest of your team can really help them handle the transition a bit better.
Notes for the next person (tips and guide) - If you’re in the situation where you don’t get to meet, work with and train your replacement, it may be a good idea to write up some notes for them. They will get staff training like you did, but no one knows your job quite like you do. If you have any handy tips and tricks for them, it would be a nice idea to pass them on. Also, if you have any ideas that may be useful, leave those as well. (If you can and can’t take them to your new role)
Train your replacement - If necessary, take the time to train your replacement to a good standard. The hiring process can be a long one and it doesn’t always get completed before you leave your role, but if it does and you have a bit of time, make the most of it. You won’t be in charge of all their training, but it’s good to show them the rope. They can learn a lot from you, and you never know, you could learn a thing or two from them as well.
Arrange an exit interview - If this isn’t organised by your line manager, it’s likely to be arranged with your HR representative. It’s a good idea to be prepared for when this comes around. You don’t need to plan anything in particular but get ready for a conversation. They may ask why you’re leaving, confirm your leaving date and discuss any other policies they may have in place for you. It’s also your time to ask questions.
A longer notice period shouldn’t affect your way of working or your new role. This length of notice will be told to you before you start the job, so when you look for a new one, no one is surprised. It shouldn’t be treated as a ‘prison sentence’ you’re there to do a job and other than your employer trying to hire for your position, everything pretty much stays the same. You can take holiday and leave during this time (unless stated otherwise) and you’re still entitled to all your colleague benefits. Keep doing your job and show the employer nothing less than professionalism. You never know when you may need your colleagues in the future.