Why did my employee quit without notice?


Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

You thought you had a good relationship with this employee. As far as you’re concerned, you were a decent boss. You treated the employee fairly, were supportive of his work, addressed him respectfully, and said “please” and “thank you.” You may even have gone out of your way to provide this employee meaningful development opportunities or a bigger salary.

All that, and out of the blue your employee tells you he’s leaving in two days, or maybe tomorrow.

Or perhaps you didn’t even get that much consideration. Instead your employee left a voice message in the middle of the night that he wouldn’t be returning—thanks for the opportunity, though.

“At will” goes both ways

Most states are “at will,” meaning an employment relationship can be ended “at the will of” either party without cause and without notice, barring legal prohibitions, contractual obligations, or actions not in the best interest of public policy.

Employers exercise their rights under at will employment all the time, and some circumstances warrant abruptly letting an employee go.

But when employees quit without giving the ubiquitous two-week notice, lots of people have lots of opinions about why that’s just wrong. And, truth be told, quitting without notice has the potential to negatively impact the employee way more than the employer, which is why such behavior generally falls squarely under “cutting your nose to spite your face.”

Still, people do quit jobs without notice (sometimes quite spectacularly). Now why would anyone do that? Here’s why.

The employee wanted time off between gigs

The new job starts right away, and the only way for your employee to get a breather between positions was to shave time off on your end. In an ideal world, the employee wouldn’t have had to make this choice, but, well, it’s not an ideal world.

The employee didn’t think you’d care

In your mind, you treated this employee well. In her mind, you barely noticed her existence and rarely showed appreciation for her work or efforts. So, when it suited her to stop coming to work, she stopped coming to work. She honestly didn’t think you’d give a hoot.

Work was making the employee sick

Maybe you did your best as a boss, but your good actions couldn’t outweigh the real problems in your company—problems that were making your employee anxious, depressed, and angry. For his health’s sake, your employee had to go and the sooner the better.

The employee is a user

Sad to say, but some people don’t have much consideration for anyone but themselves. When working for you ceased to be beneficial, the employee up and quit. End of story.

The employee is angry at you

Despite your opinion of your relationship with this employee, he’s upset with you about something. Quitting without notice is his way of letting you know.

The employee took a preemptive strike

The employee knew it was only a matter of time before you terminated her employment, so she beat you to it. If that sounds a little crazy given the economy, consider the employee might have a sideline business, a part-time job, a working partner, or gumption to spare. Whatever the reason, it pleased the employee to quit before getting fired.

When employees resign without notice, it’s an inconvenience and maybe even a small blow to the ego.

Even so, an employer’s best bet is to not take the employee’s choice personally and instead look at the vacancy as a chance to bring a great new hire on board.

Compensation Best Practice Report


  1. 26 Jo Bono 15 May
    Good article, but it left off one other time that I think giving notice is a waste of your time and their time and that is when you are new or still in training and not contributing. Why would a company want to pay a new employee for two weeks notice?
  2. 25 Lisa Walters 28 Apr
    I worked as an office manager for 6 days with a horrible boss ( woman ) and I am a woman. This woman was a c***, not joking. I put a resignation in her box, before I left and never went back. Sometime it is better to leave. At least I finished out the day.
  3. 24 John 15 Apr
    @Maggie you sound like a typical self-entitled HR shill. Every problem you see is rooted in the employee and never yourself, management, or obvious low pay and hours. You deserve to live in the frustrated state you seem to be in. I assure you it is self induced. Cheers
  4. 23 joe 12 Apr
    here's another # for your list; you promised an employee a certain change, and then it did not get followed through on. IE; additional hours or a schedule change, or a raise. it's one thing not to give me something, that's no big deal, but to tell me you'll do something and then not do it, that's grounds for a midnight voicemail and a tood-e-loo so to speak.
  5. 22 S 08 Apr
    Keep in mind that even if you give 2 weeks notice, you may find yourself being walked out within 2 minutes. This happened to me after 4 years with a company. Of course, they were going to fire me anyway for not meeting the new goals they set for me (after taking away my good accounts to make sure I couldn't meet the goals). Also had a hard time getting my earned vacation pay, called HR and was told that I wouldn't get it because I was "terminated with cause". This was not the case. I had to fight and go back and forth with my manager a few times, but I did eventually get it.
  6. 21 Mj 31 Mar
    I am going to quit my job tomorrow. My current boss/ owner continuously yells and belittles his employees. I am having panic attacks and had to go on anti anxiety meds. Yesterday, I overheard the bookkeeper telling him there is not enough money to make payroll this month. He in turn screamed at her "find it"! She then spent the afternoon calling banks to see if they could get additional loans. I am seeing red flags everywhere and my gut instinct is to let it go and walk away before things get even more ugly. In the past seven weeks I have worked there, I have put in over 80 hours extra in my salary posistion. I am burned out. I do not sleep well because of worrying about work. My family is neglected. I am expected to do the job of three and can no longer do it. I am giving a simple resignation and not coming back for fear of my boss flipping out. I am a good hard working employee and would have given two weeks notice. But the bottom line is I am afraid of him.
  7. 20 jon 22 Mar
    Today is my last day. I will.quit tomorrow. I now earn minimum wage doing security and my boss ( the company owner) has been taking my lunch pay from me but charging the customer. I am willing to work 8.5 hours for 8 hours pay, but he won't do it. I only get paid 7.5 hours but am on the job 8. I am so poor, just making ends meet that I need the $100 a month my employer is stealing from me and the customer. So, I found a better paying job closer to home. (Saving gas money too!) The new employer offered me the better job only if I was willing to start immediately. So I took the job. I feel guilty quitting without notice, especially for our customer, but I have to take care of my family. Too bad, so sad!
  8. 19 kloe 23 Jan
    I was unhappy at my prior job, which I held for almost 5yrs, gained 25lbs and was very depressed. I was the best performing employee as a matter of fact, regardless of how unhappy I was. So, found a new job and gave two-week notice but did only one week. I didn't feel like finishing out the second week because of the mental abuse and harassment I got from the owner. I stayed at that stupid job for many years and suffered mentally because I needed the money and have bills to pay. Yes, the two-week notice should be abolished because employees can be let go or fired without any notice. Why should there be a two week notice for employers? I don't get it.
  9. 18 kloe 23 Jan
    I was unhappy at my prior job, which I held for almost 5yrs, gained 25lbs and was very depressed. I was the best performing employee as a matter of fact, regardless of how unhappy I was. So, found a new job and gave two-week notice but did only one week. I didn't feel like finishing out the second week because of the mental abuse and harassment I got from the owner. I stayed at that stupid job for many years and suffered mentally because I needed the money and have bills to pay. Yes, the two-week notice should be abolished because employees can be let go or fired without any notice. Why should there be a two week notice for employers? I don't get it.
  10. 17 Jeremy Scott 17 Jan
    I have left at least 5 or 6 jobs on a weeks notice. And probably will give a weeks notice if or when I feel ready to leave my current job. I would say that you should tailor your resignation for how the company treats you. If they treat you with respect and kindness give them the required two weeks notice, if they are going to cause you problems leaving then give them a weeks notice or sometimes none at all. In fact it is against the law for any employer to give any person a bad reference for fear of defamation or legal liability. If they can let you go anytime or any reason, you can let them go anytime or any reason. Called at will employment.
  11. 16 B 02 Jan
    I need to know what is the worst that can happen to me. I put in my resignation with immediate effect and that I am not returning to work at all. You need to understand that who I work for is horrible, I cannot explain the conditions that I work in everyday. I am unable to work in these conditions, they are horrible to the staff and bad mouth the staff and has no respect for the people that work for them. I practically go home crying everyday,hence the fact I resigned and not going back. What is the worst that can happen to me for not handing in a 1 month notice?
  12. 15 Trini 17 Dec
    I ended up quitting without notice recently for a call center that took orders from a large pizza chain. I worked there less than a week-- thought it was going to be a decent job since it was full-time/ eight hours a day. On my fullblown first shift, I asked if I could go on break since the calls were slowing down. Floor manager told me no, if there's no scheduled break on my timesheet, then I wouldn't have a break. This wouldn't seem like an issue but we're not allowed to eat at our computers and I was already 6.5 hours into my shift dealing with customer complaints for the last 3 hours. I needed a break. Next day I just turned over my resignation letter and went adios. The job paid $7.25/hr. I found a new job shortly after that paid more annnd-- there's breaks!
  13. 14 Dbryan 30 Sep
    I work in a retail company where we have cashiers, assistant managers, and a store manager. We are suppose to have 3 or 4 assistant managers to help run the store better. Now, I'm one of those assistant managers. We had hired a new assistant manager about a month ago and he was great! Very nice, very respectful! He did his job, we could talk, laugh and joke, and work together. All of a sudden my store manager goes on vacation, and I had to work with him one night. I walked by and asked how things were going and he just went OFF on me for absolutely no reason!! And then I ended up coming back from my break and he just quit, with no explanation! However, I heard him on the phone talking for about 15 minutes. So I really think it was personal reasons mixed with the job was just too much. You never know, wife could be yelling at him cuz he's never home, kids could be upset, you honestly never know. My best advice is don't take it personal unless you know you did something wrong. And in the end, it's there loss! More hours for me!
  14. 13 Jason 28 Jul
    The lost of a pension. That 's why!
  15. 12 Sam Ramphele 08 Jul
    There can be multiple reasons why employee tender immediate resignations. The employer can be good in all instances but only to find that the work itself sucks. Employees might be having new better offers elsewhere difficult to resist. In all manners it will be difficult for the employer to cope. The question is, since immediate resignation is bad for production, is the issue of withholding payments from such employee good for the organisation. This is just an act of retaliation not the remedy to the problem at hand. The law needs to expand and deal with this matter sufficiently. It should rest with employees that it is not good gesture just to desert your work station without giving the employer a warning upfront.
  16. 11 DaveG 29 Jun
    my problem is not the "no notice" as much as negative notice to quit, they just stop showing up for work and I have to figure it out. I know, bad employers deserve this sometimes, but, really, I am one of the good ones who pays well and treats people well, so it's very frustrating to see me get treated this way. I'm old with a good memory, I don't remember ever seeing this decades ago - interesting.
  17. 10 Hotel Hell 07 May
    If an employee quits without notice, chances are that the job and the management suck. I worked for an economy motel near Disneyland, and the management treated everyone like dirt. No surprise, since the motto there was "The customer is always right." (If you absolutey believe that mantra, you're either a terrible manager who inspires deep-seeded resentment among your staff, or a nightmare customer who the staff would rather not have return.) The long-term staff there had long since gone off the deep end; the only things you could count on from them were lies, gossip, and vindictiveness. The customers were largely vile cheapskates who wanted five star service at a two star price. During my time there, my mental and physical health suffered. I was always sick, and the anxiety was debilitating. I don't regret my choice to get the hell out of there. Ah, hell. The place was so awful, I'll name it. It was Cortona Inn and Suites in Anaheim. I hope this comment shows up when someone searches for the property online.
  18. 9 steve 23 Apr
    There are two opinions here : Those in personnel and management believe it's rude for an employee to exercise their "at will" option Those employees who felt that was a way to be heard. Like "firing" your boss. Sadly, the "at will" job offering is a lack of faith started by employers. So who is being disrespectful from day one? There was a time when employees were given a 90 period of time to demonstrate their potential. Now the same (or longer period) has become a way to delay any promised benefits. Who is demonstrating bad faith. Show us what you can do, but we can fire you regardless at any time. Exit interviews: How many employers review negative feedback and write them off as "sour grapes"? In some states, when employees are layed off, they are given two weeks severance pay. Indeed the structure of unemployment benefits included that common practice. Now it is Goodbye...but complaints how the "Employee should have provided notice?" Seriously? HR People get real. Your employees have feelings. How many managers have been fired based upon employee exit interview feedback? I suspect only those issues causing legal suits have been re examined. Poor employers.... you GET BACK WHAT YOU DISH OUT! The working world is tough, even for the employer. Too bad!
  19. 8 PaulDugas 01 Apr
    It's just as well you quit "without notice", no secret your unhappy. You've complained, have you not? No matter how important you are and no matter how good you are - you'll be replaced and forgotten about in no time. Besides, giving a notice is kinda rubbing nose in the fact you leaving. Any wonder so many people comment on how disrespected they felt after giving notice? The two week notice thing is as dead as an objective statement on a resume. Leave it out!
  20. 7 Wasabi 12 Jan
    So, i owned a small company. We all close to each other. We went out to eat together, we celebrate birthday. Just like family. I pay their hospital bills, i bought them ticket for them to see their family back home, I bought those who took 2hours by bus to reach workplace a motorbike etc. Till there is this young girl who are very polite, but she couldnt do any of our standart work and yet she keep on asking for executive salary. I told her, she just work for 1 month, do it good first proof she can do it then she can get what she want. She then quit her job without notice, ruining one of my customers orders so badly and one of my other ladies try to repair it, it took her everyday. Suddenly drama happen, my oldest employee who has been with me since we are nothing. Resigned. She cried and I cried too. She said its nothing she just wanted to quit. I said go ahead then, its her life. She is actually an orphan, 50yo,not married no kids no family. I actually almost downpayment her a house from her end of year bonus. And I even think she will live with me when she couldnt do her job anymore. One of my hardworking girl suddenly came up to me shows a text from the without notice quit girl text. She has been bitching and talking so bad about us. I couldnt even look at it. It was so mean. And she said she might do that to my oldest employee, so she doesnt feel comfortable and decided to leave. Now I only left with 2 person in my studio where I actually need 4 person. I hope the last two didnt leave. Though they said they would nevet leave unless we close our door. Sigh.
  21. 6 employmentseeker 25 Nov
    @Maggie 17 Nov Maggie, I understand where you are coming from. Unfortunately, it is a matter of poor judgment expecting that since "we go out of our way" to accommodate others, they should exchange the favor. No matter how rude you find it, it is important to understand that "people are free", that "at will" goes both way (thank the Lord for it going both ways), and I personally believe it to be selfish and arrogant to use a double standard to judge employees differently from employers when enforcing their "at will" right. Aside from the fact that in some situations it is impossible to give proper notice, as you mentioned, it is important to consider that when employers enforce their "at will" side of the deal, no warnings are given. Often, employers use pretexts to dismiss employees so not to provide them severance and unemployment, and that is why they seek the "just cause" to terminate a relationship. I find it amusing how much people are willing to let their employers get away with. The "at will" case shows one of the silliest examples of "living urban legends", and I have heard it a MILLION times that, "if you do not give them the 2 weeks notice..." something bad is going to happen to you when you look for the next occupation. Luckily, that is not the case, and if an employer is so picky to take one's use of their "at will rights" as a mean to discriminate against a potential employer, then I believe that it is about time to raise this "at will right" to the level of discrimination as much as race, gender, and religion. Perhaps that beginning to use our employees "at will right" we could prove a point to employers that if you do not provide job stability, you do not get job stability? What good is a right that cannot be used? Cheers
  22. 5 katiemac 21 Nov
    I resigned today without notice. I have never done this before but wanted to get some feedback from others. First off my employer announced the facility was closing the doors in 5 weeks, and I would be layed off( no severance except for being ably to work until the doors are closed). This sounded good until I spoke with new prospective employers who asked about my no-compete clause. At this point I asked my current employer to provide a letter making the no-compete null and void. My employer refused to do this and told me that this would be covered the last day. Because of this I figured if I told the prospective employer I was no longer employed, that this could be a marginally better situation. Therefore I resigned immediately using a very courteous letter which explained how the company would benefit since I was not busy anyway and not having to pay my salary for the next 5 weeks would benefit there cash-flow which caused the plant closing in the first place. Thoughts?
  23. 4 Maggie 17 Nov
    I think, barring health, bereavement or medical emergencies, it's rude, disrespectful and immature to leave a position with no notice. Now that I manage hiring and scheduling, it irks me to no end when someone quits by leaving a voicemail or sending me an email. I go out of my way to accommodate scheduling requests, and I am very transparent about the maximum number of hours allowed per week--as well as pay--and I encourage feedback and suggestions from employees. The problem I have is that some employees say whatever it takes to get the job ("sure, 25 hours per week is great!), then the second they get an offer with a few more hours or $1.00 more per hour, they just leave without talking to me. Furthermore, some employees hoard their negative feelings and leave abruptly without letting me know they are unhappy about something. Had they taken a bigger picture approach, we could have worked on the whatever the issue(s) to make the environment better for everyone, and by demonstrating that they were mature enough to address the issue like a professional, they would have increased their likelihood of advancement in the company. Employees need to learn how to communicate with present and future employers. First, if you do not want to work for a certain salary and need a minimum number of hours per week, you should be honest with a prospective employer. Additionally, you should be wary of any prospective employer that will not allow you to give two weeks' notice. It says quite a bit about an organization that doesn't respect you or your the organization you currently work for. Lastly, if you have an HR issue, then you need to address it. Don't let it fester until you walk out of the building and never come back, and if cannot be addressed to your satisfaction, then you should still give a formally written resignation letter stating your last date of work, which should be, at a minimum, two weeks. Assuming your are not experiencing sexual harassment or physical abuse, there's no legitimate reason not to give a minimum of two weeks' notice.
  24. 3 KMCurtis 12 Nov
    I just quit today. I walked out without saying anything to anyone. I knew there were other ways, but that was the only way to get my point across. I felt bad for the others because there werent many people working. I liked one of the managers. He was very respectful and gave good constructive criticism. The other one? I hated her. She isn't respectful. She says mean things and thinks that no one hears her. Her attitude sucks and she's a hypocrite! I also don't like the way she talks to people. She constantly disrespected me. I had no problem with her constructive criticism because I knew when I was messing up or not doing what I was supposed to do. I will respect someone for their position and do whatever they tell me. I just didn't like the way she talked to people and then whenever we decided to stick up for ourselves, she acted like we were the bad guys. I just hated the way she "tried" to run things without being respectful. And I feel like if I've worked this hard, cleaned up dirty bathrooms, worked with rude ass customers, and did everything I could to help you see that I knew what I was doing, then I deserved and earned your respect👌 I'm also not good at being assertive and I think she knew that. So Monday I snapped back at her and then today I had chest pains and troubled breathing because I didn't know what was going to happen today. So I told myself that if this job is giving me chest pains and anxiety all the time, then it's time to go.
  25. 2 sandy 20 Oct
    I quit by texting my manager.I had another job lined up and they wanted me to start asap....My old job cut every one to 13 hours a week...Who can live and pay billes on 7.85 per hour on that= NO ONE......Dollar General can kiss my ass
  26. 1 Reb 01 Aug
    I work two part time jobs. One was my newer job in a restaurant, the second was continuing working in the vet clinic I've been at for the last 4 years, a place where I am excellent at what I do and my employers and boss love me -- but the hours were few and pay not great, so I had to look for more employment. On too of all this I run a petsitting/dog walking/housesitting business and every month somebody needs me. It pays well end non taxed. My restaurant boss has been horrible to me since we started, and I 've done my damn best to grin and bare it....but today in front of the other employees she screamed at me for doing something......exactly as she trained me to do, something she never cared about how I did it before. She then yelled at me for not taking some test last Sunday, to which I explained she never showed up to give me it, and she said I should have come in a day she was there (it made no sense). All the employees said she was out of line and I did nothing wrong. Well she had no idea my clinic has been begging me for full time hours the last few weeks. So after my shift I told the clinic you bet your ass I'll work. It was payday too and I noticed I even got a substantial raise! Called the restaurant right before I knew it closed and said so quit!!!!! I hope she has fun scrambling to get people to cover my double shifts tomorrow on our busiest night. I burned no career bridges and will not have a gap in my job history so I went for the hedonist route for once in my life and just did what I want, it feels GREAT! My family who always goes there Sundays have also stopped did to the boss' behavior. Rot in Hell.


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