How to tender your resignation - Be sure of your decision.
There are many reasons why you might want to change employers – and obviously one of those might simply be that you want to pursue a hospitality career abroad.
There might come a time, however, when you want to change jobs again and when that day dawns it’s worth sitting down and thinking hard about why you need to leave - is it money, lack of opportunity, a missed promotion, the need for a change of location, or something more personal? If any of those seem to be driving your need to move on, it’s probably worth talking it through with your boss or the HR department to see if they can help before making a final decision.
It will also help to consolidate your feelings if you can discuss things with friends and family. But remember, it’s your life and your decision, so trust your instincts.
The first step
Once you’ve decided to go, check your contract and company handbook to see if there are any procedures you need to follow. Beware that your contract may have financial penalties in place if you leave within a certain time period – particularly if the company has invested in your relocation and any training.
Other points to check include the length of the notice period you are required to work. This usually varies depending on your time at the company and your seniority. Some companies have a policy of very long notice periods to stop key staff from leaving the hotel or restaurant in the lurch. But it works both ways in that should the company ever want you to leave, it must give you notice – and therefore the chance to find another job.
If you don’t have a notice period, it is courteous to give at least a fortnight’s notice.
What to do:
- Write a brief official resignation letter including a sentence saying how sorry you are to leave
- Before you hand over your letter, speak to your boss in person about your intentions to leave. They will want to know your reasons, so be prepared and don’t go into negative detail
- Think in advance how you would respond if your employer offers an inducement to stay (after all, recruiting staff is an expensive business). If you are tempted, give them a deadline of when you would need their counter-offer by
- Consider the offer carefully - it may be a salary-hike, a promotion, or a move to another location, but does it really improve your standing in the company?
- If your resignation takes your boss by surprise and he reacts badly or aggressively try to stay composed. One way to calm the atmosphere is by offering to help in the handover process and promising to tidy up loose ends before you go
Always be positive about your time at the company – hospitality is a surprisingly small world and your paths could easily cross again
Making the most of your notice period
You may be offered a shorter notice period in return for fewer benefits, or be offered a pay-off to leave quickly. Either could be worth consideration, depending on when your next employer needs you to start.
Alternatively, if you are moving to a direct competitor or you are a senior executive with access to strategic information you might be offered “gardening leave”. This is definitely a boon as you work out your notice on holiday, at home or wherever you fancy other than work. The only restraint is that you are prevented from working for anyone else during that time.
It inevitably unsettles the team when anyone leaves so your employer may ask you to refrain from telling your colleagues, regular guests and suppliers for a while. What’s crucial is that when you do tell them, you are positive about the company and clear about your reasons for leaving so there is no scope for gossip.
It’s not rocket science - the contacts you make in any job will be useful throughout your career so you want colleagues, suppliers and even guests to remember you on a high note. Remember, you will almost certainly be bumping into them at industry events and they will be useful when you need advice, support, references and so on.
It’s also important that you don’t become sloppy and let your professionalism slip. It’s more than likely that your colleagues have friends and family in senior positions at other hotels or restaurants so as bad news travels fast you could be putting you whole career in jeopardy.
If you are a chef, you could build on relationships with suppliers by telling them that you will contact them once you’ve settled in at your new workplace.
Tying up loose ends
You need to make sure you get any outstanding bonuses, commission, holiday pay, time off in lieu, or other benefits you’re due. Liaise with your HR department and discuss any discrepancies as soon as they arise.
It’s worth noting that if you work your notice, you should get all that you are due, but if you break the terms of your notice period, you put everything at risk.
· Don’t burn your bridges – you never know when you might need a good reference or a job with the company a few years down the line
· If you’re leaving because you are being treated unfairly and are considering legal action, don’t discuss it publicly - gather your evidence and look for a solicitor
· Ask a colleague in the company to act as a referee
· Keep in touch with your business contacts and mentors, not just your friends
· Respect any request to keep your resignation quiet to maintain morale
Taking your leave
If there’s a farewell party and you are asked to say a few words you can probably get away with a short “thank you” speech. You should also thank any helpful colleagues personally, too.
No doubt the party will gather momentum, but don’t lose sight of the fact you are still “at work”. This is a great opportunity to cement friendships and hone business relationships so don’t blow it by getting drunk and being indiscreet.
It might sound a bit calculating, but you should think about who might be able to help your future career. Thank your boss for the opportunities they gave you - whether it’s true or not – and let other managers and key staff around the company know that you valued working for the company.
Whatever you do, don’t start bragging about where you are going or how much you are going to earn – try to think of the feelings of those you are leaving behind. In fact, never give anyone an excuse to resent you if you can help it.
Last but not least, send a short email to your colleagues with contact details so that they can get hold of you if they want to.
Help your successor
Don’t be tempted to leave your successor with half-finished business. The only person that will look bad is you, so tie up any loose ends, pay those suppliers, get the accounts up to date and finish that appraisal for the trainee sommelier.
Even better, create a handover document with details of where things are kept, notes on important guests, computer passwords, any quirks about a supplier and notes to help in forthcoming meetings. They will also need important contact phone numbers and email addresses.
Once you’ve left, never criticise your old company or disclose secrets. Not only could it backfire, but your new employer will doubt your powers of discretion and integrity.