Resolving Workplace Conflict Before Quitting: 6 Tips for a Graceful Exit

Published: May 16, 2023 | Last Updated: April 23, 2024by Jeremy Pollack

Over 50.5 million people quit their jobs in 2022, besting 2021 and earning the title of the ‘year of the great resignation’. The post-pandemic era is seeing a lot more voluntary departures. You’d want to maintain good relations with your company as you quit, leaving the door open for potential work opportunities of varying capacities in the future. Here are some tips to help you craft a graceful exit from your workplace that build bridges, not burn them. However, quitting jobs is part and parcel of corporate work. People join companies and leave them for a plethora of reasons. The most important thing both the company and employees want is to make the departure seamless.

Resolving workplace conflict before quitting: 6 tips for a graceful exit

As a considerable portion of the workforce considers quitting their jobs, it becomes important to understand why you need graceful exits from a company. SOme of the primary reasons for people quitting their jobs include:

  • No growth opportunities
  • The work may not be satisfying
  • Abundance of workplace conflicts
  • They don’t feel they fit well within the culture
  • For personal reasons such as relocating to a different place or choosing a different life path.

Whatever the reason may be for your exit, you need to make sure that you leave your company without conflicts, even if you had a less-than-ideal experience with it or you don’t plan to work with them again or work at all. This is because you need to keep opportunities for yourself open for the future. You may need work again or work/association opportunities with the company may present themselves in the future. The company can better itself and provide ideal job roles for you in the future, overcoming the issues you currently had with it. In that case, you’d want to work with it, and having a positive relationship with it will help you with it. Here are some winning tips to construct a graceful exit from your company:

1. Ace the resignation letter

Your resignation letter is the most important aspect of your exit from your company. Since your departure is your decision and not theirs, you need to make sure you introduce it to your supervisors and the people concerned in the most favorable way possible. Writing a simple, concise, and positive resignation letter will be a starting point.

Here are some excellent resignation letter examples that will act as templates, guides, starting points, and inspiration for your letter. You will find examples with and without reason to choose from, making it easy to begin that conversation with your company. The key to writing a resignation letter is clearly communicating the reason for your quitting. This is what will remain with your employers as they document your departure for furniture analysis. Even if you have a seemingly innocuous reason such as you want to quit working for a while and explore yourself, express that frankly. The second important aspect to remember when writing a resignation letter is to be grateful to your company for the learning and rewarding experience it gave you. It may seem ingenuine to say if the reason you’re leaving is workplace conflicts itself. In that case, remember the good times you had with your colleagues and the friends you made there. Remember that the company did give you employment and work experience that will pave the way for the future.

What to include in your resignation letter?

Given below are the key elements to include in your resignation letter. You may skip some and add something to them as your situation requires. This list is only meant to be a guideline to make sure you don’t skip any important details.

i) Announce your resignation — Make sure it’s the first thing you say, along with a clear reason. Many employees make the mistake of giving gratitude before they announce their resignation, hoping it will soften the blow, so to speak. But it will only confuse the reader. The ideal way is to announce it first and foremost and then show gratitude, making it easier for the reader to follow.

ii) Gratitude toward your employee experience — As discussed above, this is the place to show sincere thankfulness toward your employers for giving you the employee experience that you will take forward with you on your journey.

iii) Details around departure — Elaborate on the details of your departure such as the day you leave, how long of a notice period you’re serving, your contact details after you leave, etc.

iv) Ask for a letter of reference — You may ask for a letter of reference if you wish to. This is entirely optional. Ask for it politely and toward the end of the letter.

2. Notify the concerned people

Submitting a resignation letter is a formality for legal, administrative, and convenience purposes. It’s not an announcement of you leaving. Moreover, the letter is only sent to the concerned supervisors and not your coworkers. This is why it’s important to inform the concerned people in your office about your leaving personally. People, in general, prefer face-to-face communication over written/digital, especially for sensitive information. Informing them personally will come across as thoughtful on your part. You will get to control the way they react and explain yourself if need be. Additionally, you need to decide the people who need to be informed. This will of course include your direct supervisor, team leader, and any other higher-ups that you engage with. When it comes to your coworkers, you can choose who to tell. It’s advisable that you tell your immediate team. These are the people you work with on a day-to-day basis. Letting them know will help them accommodate the way they work concerning your departure and a new person replacing you. Other than them, you may tell your other coworkers you interact with only occasionally only when the topic comes up.

3. Depersonalize your space

Another important aspect in constructing a positive departure is respectfully depersonalizing your space to leave it as neutral as possible for the next person to use with ease. You don’t know what the company will do with that space once you leave. It may leave it as is, assign it to the person who replaces you as a coworker. Your goal should be to rid it of any personal touches. This way, whoever uses it next will be able to get started right away. They will not have to spend time ridding it of your personal touches and then adding theirs. They can simply add their touches and get started, saving them time and effort. This gesture of yours will surely add positivity to your relationship with your company as you leave. Furthermore, cleaning out your personal information from company servers will help you protect it and prevent it from getting misused. There are three major ways you can depersonalize your space with ease. They are:

  • Take personal items home — Take back any personal items you brought from your home such as your favorite coffee mug or headphones.
  • Return company items — Company items such as writing pads, highlighters, etc shall be returned to the company.
  • Set the systems to default — Clear all the systems used by you such as computers, laptops, or tablets of your personal information and set them back to default. Leave them as new to be used by the next user.

4. Stay neutral during your notice period

No matter how short or long your notice period is, make sure to stay neutral during it. This is an admittedly tricky time as it’s clear that you’re leaving in some time and someone will replace you. Work on your job as you normally would. Many employees make the mistake of working less or being careless through their notice period as they believe they’re no longer liable for their mistakes in their current job. This attitude not only creates a negative image, but can even cause damage to your company’s operations, especially if you hold a highly respectable position. To make things during your notice period, you may consider the following tips:

    • Avoid taking sides in conflicts or office politics.
    • Remain professional and courteous in your interactions with colleagues and supervisors.
    • Focus on completing your work and meeting your commitments.
    • Refrain from engaging in gossip or spreading negativity.
    • Offer support and assistance during the transition process.
    • Seek guidance from HR or management if faced with challenging situations.

5. Maintain positive communication

Many employees take to being negative about their companies as they leave. They know there will be no consequences for this behavior. This is a wrong and unethical approach to take as it will dent your relationship with both your company and your colleagues. The best way to end a working relationship is to maintain positive communication with everyone. Don’t tell secrets about your company to your coworkers or complain about your supervisors. It will only end up sullying your image in front of others. If you’re probed by coworkers or superiors about your new job or why you’re leaving this one, keep your answer succinct and neutral. Don’t bad mouth this job and praise the next one. If possible, limit conversations about your new job entirely.

6. Ask for a reference letter

A reference letter is an excellent addition to your occupational accolades. It is both a testament to your positive work relationship with your previous company and an endorsement of your skills and capabilities. Other than requesting it in your resignation letter, make sure to request it personally either when you let your employer know for the first time or later when they have processed the news. Be polite in asking for it and be patient as the employer might need some time to prepare one.

Proactively plan and prepare for a graceful exit

Joining and quitting your job to start a new one  is simply the circle of a corporate life. But your departure from a company doesn’t have to be messy and negative. Before you resign, think about how you can leverage your departure as an opportunity for personal growth, reflection, and learning to set yourself up for success in your future endeavors. Also, ensure to work with your manager and peers for a seamless transition of your responsibilities. Be clear and polite in your resignation to maintain a positive relationship with your company as you leave. Remember, a graceful exit not only benefits you, but also leaves a positive impression on your colleagues and the organization. By approaching your exit with professionalism and respect, you can build a strong foundation for your future endeavors and open doors to new opportunities.

Jeremy Pollack

Jeremy Pollack is the Founder and CEO of Pollack Peacebuilding Systems.