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Voluntary Resignation: What Is It And Why It Happens

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Voluntary Resignation: What Is It And Why It Happens

There are a lot of reasons employees might leave their employer. They might quit, be laid off, or in some instances they might even be terminated by the businesses. But when they resign on their own accord, this is called voluntary resignation.

Voluntary resignation is just one type of separation between an employee and employer. But what qualifies as voluntary resignation. And what situations can cause an employee to resign voluntarily?

Keep reading as we break down everything you need to know about voluntary resignation. ‘

What is voluntary resignation?

Voluntary resignation is when an employee chooses to terminate their own employment with their employer. The final decision to resign is decided by employee themselves. Depending on the circumstances, pressure from the employer could change whether the resignation is considered truly voluntary.

Voluntary resignation is typically formalized when an employee submits a resignation letter. Or informs their company of their departure by other means. This is typically agreed upon at the start of employment.

When an employee is terminated for reasons outside of their own control, it’s no longer considered a voluntary resignation–for example, being laid off.

Categories of voluntary resignation

While voluntary resignation typically refers to an employee making the official decision to part ways with their employer, there are a few different ways this can happen.

Unprompted voluntary resignation

When most people think of voluntary resignation, they most likely are thinking of a voluntary resignation that is unprompted or un-encouraged. It’s a decision that an employee has come to on their own. The employer hasn’t formally (or informally) given the employee a reason to make the decision to leave.

This can be due to positive factors such as getting a better job or changing career paths. But it can also be due to negative factors such as burnout, low job satisfaction, or a poor employee experience.

In most situations, an unprompted or un-encouraged voluntary resignation does not entitle the employee to any sort of separation benefits or severance.

When an employee voluntarily resigns unprompted, it’s usually best to conduct an exit interview. It can help your organization understand the reasons behind the resignation and reduce employee turnover in the future.

Encouraged voluntary resignation

This type of voluntary resignation typically stems from some sort of suggestion from a manager or the employer that it’s time for an employee to resign.

For example, an employer may let the employee know that their position is no longer needed. Therefore, their position will be eliminated in the near or immediate future. Or perhaps, they’ve recommended to the employee that they’re underperforming and their skills aren’t fit for the role.

Sometimes this is a formal piece of communication. However, in some instances, it’s simply a hint that helps guide the employee to the door.

While the reasoning could be similar to being laid off or fired, this gives the employee an alternative where they can make the decision themselves. Otherwise, they risk being fired or laid off in the future.

However, if this causes the employer to breach the original employment contract,  this may be considered constructive dismissal in the eyes of the law. In which case, the employee may be entitled to some sort of compensation or severance package.

Common reasons for voluntary resignation

An employee may choose to voluntarily tender their resignation. But here are some common reasons that organizations see voluntary resignations:

  • Better job opportunities: This is one of the most common reasons for unprompted or discouraged voluntary resignation. The employee has decided to move on to a different organization or role. In some situations, this can be avoided by offering growth opportunities and making sure an employee is engaged with their role. However, sometimes the employee-employer relationship has naturally run its course.
  • Retirement: Reaching the age of retirement is another common reason for voluntary resignation.
  • Job satisfaction: Employees who aren’t happy in their current roles or with their current employers may choose to resign–whether to take time off or explore other opportunities. Whether it’s poor work environments or differences with management, this type of regrettable attrition something that can often be managed over time by improving company culture and employee experience.
  • Skills mismatch: Whether an employee is overqualified for their job or failing to meet expectations, this discrepancy in skillset can cause employees to be encouraged to resign or even resign without the suggestion of their employer.
  • Personal reasons: Sometimes employees have health or family issues outside of work that require their attention. It may require them to take time off work or switch career paths in order to accommodate. Offering flexible working arrangements can often help dissuade employees from voluntarily resigning for personal reasons.
  • Moving or relocation: With jobs that are tied to specific locations or offices, a move may require an employee to resign and seek new employment elsewhere. Sometimes this type of resignation can be avoided by moving employees to different offices or allowing for telecommuting.

Regardless why an employee is voluntarily leaving your organization, it’s best to take a look at the cause. This can help you understand if there is anything you could have done differently as an employer to retain your talent.

Reduce voluntary resignations by improving the employee experience

Losing top employees can be extremely difficult for organizations. High levels of employee turnover can be expensive and time consuming.

Where possible, companies should aim to reduce voluntary resignations. One of the best ways to do this? By improving the employee experience and setting your team up for success from day one.

Qualee is a cloud-based employee onboarding and engagement platform. With everything from employee surveys to onboarding journeys, Qualee provides all the tools you need to improve employee retention and reduce employee turnover.

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