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Ethicalfilter: I gave a generous one month notice at my day job and they are trying to suck me in for even longer.
April 9, 2012 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Ethicalfilter: I gave a generous one month notice at my day job and they are trying to suck me in for even longer.

I have been working as a designer for a magazine for the last several years. I have been generally unhappy with the experience this entire time. I have been the magazine's only designer for this entire time. I have been overworked, underlauded, and underpaid in a job whose description and hours and duties are ever-expanding while its benefits are non-existent and it's compensation ever-shrinking. In fact with last year's pay cut, I am effectively making less than I did when I started, and now I am also our de fact web designer/webmaster.

But there is a light at the end of all this. I got myself another, better job in web design. A substantial increase in income doing a job Im much more enthused about, working for people that respect me, my talent and my time.

I could not be happier about this.

So I gave (with much horse-trading with my new job) my current bosses a month to find a replacement. Seemed pretty generous at the time, especially since Id be killing myself for the next four weeks working two jobs essentially.

Well, now they are trying to pull me in for May as well to put out the next issue since "youll be hard to replace in that time"

Now, while I can appreciate this, Im not really sure what my responsibility is to all that. I dont feel like killing myself in 2 jobs for 2 months and I certainly do not want having to work nights next month at this job to interfere in any way with my new job.

As shitty as this current job is, I do feel a bit bad for them and I have a certain friendly loyalty just from all of us being in this together for so long, but part of me wants to be all "um..not my problem" and move on down the road.

But I also dont want to get painted as the bad guy here.

So anyway, I have no idea how to play this. Help!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (51 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's business. Friends or not, one month is a huge amount of notice. Not on you if they're gonna judge you personally for that kind of courtesy.
posted by straight_razor at 5:56 PM on April 9, 2012 [30 favorites]


Im not really sure what my responsibility is to all that.

A month's notice is quite generous, and likely more than they'd give you. You've done your bit, so walk away at the end of the month.
posted by mhoye at 5:57 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


You tell them "That won't be possible." And you keep telling them that until they stop asking. If they are piling responsibilities on you AND making you take a pay cut, they feel absolutely no loyalty to you and are in fact actively screwing you. So be civil, and say no.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:57 PM on April 9, 2012 [56 favorites]


If their payroll budget was suddenly slashed by 50%, do you think that they would let "friendly loyalty" guide their decisions of who to let go and who to keep?
posted by radwolf76 at 5:57 PM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


A month is generous. You're not being the bad guy. Friendly loyalty is good, but they run a business/work at a business, and there's a reason you're leaving. I know it's tough, but--again--you're not being the bad guy. If they hassle you about it, they're being the bad guys.

Anyway, what else are you going to do? You work two jobs for two months? That's not necessary or realistic. You are not a surgeon in a two-month surgery, you're a web designer in an economy where hundreds of people want your job. Get out, don't feel bad.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 5:58 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not your problem. If they can't hire someone in this economy, chances are they need a reality check on what they're offering.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:58 PM on April 9, 2012 [25 favorites]


I do feel a bit bad for them

Do not allow their disorganization to be your problem. "I'm sorry, that won't be possible" is your new mantra.
posted by rtha at 5:59 PM on April 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


"youll be hard to replace in that time"

It's not your responsibility to run their business for them. You're hard to replace - oh well, they should have thought of that when they were thinking about your workload and pay - in the meantime you have your life to live and they have to work out their own staffing requirements.

You leave the day you said you would. You tell them it's not possible for you to extend your time there any further because of your other commitments but thanks for the offer.
posted by mleigh at 5:59 PM on April 9, 2012 [17 favorites]


If you were that important to them you wouldn't have had a pay cut. A month of notice is generous, a month of continuing to work there while unable to push off your new, more preferred job is foolish. Quit before you start messing up your new position by being tired and overworked at your old one.
posted by jacalata at 5:59 PM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


My standard answer for this is "how much notice have they given people who've been laid off?" The answer to that question is EXACTLY how much notice you owe them. Anything more than that is simply a professional courtesy. If they expect more than even that courtesy, that's on them, not you.

I am assuming, of course, that you are in the United States - things might be different elsewhere.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:00 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


"youll be hard to replace in that time"

Well, it will take some effort and work for them to interview and choose someone to replace you, but it's not like there is a dearth of skilled designers out there looking for work and ready to start yesterday.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:00 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yep, just say no. You don't want to set a precedent for them feeling like they can call on you for favors.
Congratulations on your new job!
posted by sugarbomb at 6:01 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


As shitty as this current job is, I do feel a bit bad for them and I have a certain friendly loyalty just from all of us being in this together for so long, but part of me wants to be all "um..not my problem" and move on down the road.

It is so much easier for them to guilt you into staying one more month than for them to get their shit together to hire a replacement and do whatever it takes to get the next issue out.

They're trying to make you absorb the consequences of their inertia.

Don't fall for it.
posted by jayder at 6:02 PM on April 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Based on your description, it's no surprise they'll have a hard time hiring someone new. After all, this is a job where the pay keeps shrinking while the work keeps expanding. Not many people would want a job like that. That's not your problem. It's their problem.
posted by John Cohen at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree with the other posters but you could also offer to help them "transition" for a month with a defined end date as a contractor that charges about five times what they currently pay you hourly but for only ten hours a week.
posted by saucysault at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2012 [19 favorites]


"I'm sorry, but that won't be possible."
posted by pompomtom at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The old job is your past, the new job is your future. I would be giving my time and attention to my future.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:05 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can offer contract work: maximum of x hours a week, a very high hourly rate. But that might confuse things, and I think it's better to just cut it off cleanly. "I'm sorry, I won't be able to continue to work here past April 30."
posted by jeather at 6:10 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I'm afraid I can only stay until [NOTICEDATE]. I know finding new staff can often be harrowing. Hopefully a good candidate will turn up soon, I'll also keep my eyes and ears peeled for anyone I come across that I think would be well suited for the job."
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 6:11 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


holy crap they have absolutely no respect for you. just say no.
posted by facetious at 6:12 PM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have been overworked, underlauded, and underpaid

Right, and they're still doing that. Taking advantage of your sense of responsibility and loyalty. Not giving you the respect or the pay you deserve. This attempt to get you to stay beyond your notice is just another example of the poor treatment that caused you to look for a new job in the first place.

Don't let them do that to you anymore. You already have a new job. They've had plenty of time to find a replacement for you (especially in this economy). Leave when you said you would.
posted by BlueJae at 6:13 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's no comfortable way to switch into a contractor/hourly/retainer situation here, given the trajectory of your time with them.

nthing "I'm sorry, that won't be possible."
posted by holgate at 6:14 PM on April 9, 2012


nthing all the people who say you have no responsibility to work at that place any longer. You are already being extremely helpful by giving 1 month instead of the usual 2 weeks.

especially since Id be killing myself for the next four weeks working two jobs essentially

You are a saint. Please, don't turn yourself into a martyr by extending your time.
posted by Tehhund at 6:16 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are ethically in the clear. Good karma and all.
Don't look back and put your energy into positive things and your new job.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:21 PM on April 9, 2012


You're totally a part of a textbook sick system. Leave. Get out of it as soon as you can--leave tomorrow if possible so that you can devote your time and your energy to your new job. Your old coworkers will both be a touch jealous and awed by the whole situation. Why can't they get out? The joke is that they can, and so can you. Like Dorothy, you've had it in you this whole time, but the system sets it up to look impossible.

Leave, leave, leave.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:24 PM on April 9, 2012 [23 favorites]


"I'm sorry, that won't be possible. If you respect me as a friend, you won't ask me about this again. If you do, I will take that lack of respect very personally, and I will walk out that door and I won't come back."
posted by Rock Steady at 6:34 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another vote for "I'm sorry, but that won't be possible." Giving them a full month's notice is very generous, and their failure to replace you in that time is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Stick to your guns, and move on to the new job as you promised.

If they can't find someone else in this economy & job market, considering how the low pay they offer plus the huge workload will chase off a lot of applicants, then that's purely their business --- and if they'd paid a reasonable salary in the first place for a decent workload, they'd have been able keep you and wouldn't HAVE to replace you!
posted by easily confused at 6:34 PM on April 9, 2012


I'm sorry, but if I did this I'd be jeopardizing my performance at my new job. Thanks, but I just can't, and please don't ask me anymore.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:40 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't just say no, but also walk away early (if not tomorrow). TAKE A VACATION between jobs. You're tired and burned out...and that's no way to start your next job. Just make sure you get your last paycheck mailed home and that it's all accounted for.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:46 PM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


as a side note i'd also start calling in sick a lot at the old employer.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:55 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


My standard response to this kind of thing is "Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for me."

If you are truly feeling bad and like you need to help them out, let them know that your termination date is final, but that they are welcome to hire you as a contractor for that work at an hourly rate exorbitant enough to make an 80 hour week worth it. You may find they don't need you that badly after all.
posted by looli at 6:57 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's insane that you would even consider this. You're not the bad guy here, and if they were wiling to paint you that way after giving them a month notice, they're going to do it no matter what you do. You gave them a date. Stick to it.
posted by spaltavian at 7:02 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


: "part of me wants to be all "um..not my problem" and move on down the road."

This is not your problem. Move on down the road.
posted by dg at 7:09 PM on April 9, 2012


One month is more than enough. If they can't hire someone into a publishing job in a month, then they are incompetent or are only just now realizing how much you do for them. Don't believe their guilt trip. Be nice to the people, but you should feel no loyalty to the company. Keep your word and leave when you said you would. There are lots of unemployed designers and communication majors out there who want your job. If none of them will take it, or none of them are qualified, it means you were being more exploited than you think. If some of them are qualified and will take it, then your former company has no problem. In other words, they only will have a problem replacing you if you are currently being underpaid and overworked.

Keep your word and leave. Anything else is unfair to all concerned. The consequences of you not being there to be exploited any more are, quite precisely, not your problem. Don't succumb to organizational Stockholm Syndrome. You are not the bad guy. They are for trying to pull this crap. Leave when you said you would, and don't be lured back by their stupid crap and drama. I'll say it again: they only will have a problem replacing you if you are currently being underpaid and overworked.
posted by pmb at 7:12 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Everyone's right on, but just to repeat an important point that wasn't emphasized enough (and props to JoeZydeco for it):

TAKE A VACATION BEFORE YOU START YOUR NEXT JOB.
posted by swngnmonk at 7:23 PM on April 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


"youll be hard to replace in that time"

"I imagine I will be, yes!"
posted by Greg Nog at 7:57 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Sorry, that won't be possible."

Nthing that you need a vacation before your next job. I've been there. I also going to totally, earnestly recommend that you not rule out a short stint of therapy to help re-orient your perspective. Again, speaking from experience.
posted by desuetude at 8:13 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you were valuable enough that it is hard to replace you with a month's notice they should have been compensating you more and treating you better. This is not your problem. If you were parts of some layoffs do you think they would agree to keep you on an extra month if you told them a new job would be hard to find with a month's notice?
posted by Justinian at 8:17 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


To help mitigate your guilt, you could carefully document things that you do before you go. Probably something that everyone should do, but I've worked places where nobody documents anything.

Good luck, I think you will feel so much better when you are out of there.
posted by marble at 9:19 PM on April 9, 2012


Horse trading with your next employer == "Sorry, but I'm already committed from May-on, that's why I gave you so much notice."
posted by rhizome at 10:37 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unless "it will be so difficult to replace you" was followed by "so we will double your pay for x weeks until we do," nthing the responses above. They are using you horribly, and they're so convinced they have the right to do it they are now trying to guilt you for their poor management.

Your obligation is to yourself and being ready for your new job. A month was generous indeed. If you want to be even nicer, write up a turnover report, wrap up any outstanding projects with hard end points or convenient stopping points, and then get out of there, early if you can.

Do not tell them they can call you with any questions after you're gone. Just tie up loose ends and go.

Congratulations on the new gig!
posted by OompaLoompa at 11:17 PM on April 9, 2012


just say no. and for the love of god take a week off.
posted by mwhybark at 11:23 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


just tell them (or something to this effect): i'm sorry but that won't be possible. the reason i gave a month's notice instead of 2 weeks is because it would give you plenty of time to find a replacement and time for me to train them to take over my responsibilities. if you would like help in interviewing candidates please let me know. in the meantime i will try to document my processes as best as i can to aid in the future transition.

by offering to help them interview candidates this puts you in the loop and you'll be able to see if they're putting any effort at all into finding a replacement and it will mitigate any guilt you're feeling because you offered to actively try to help them find a replacement. i don't know about the process documentation because they might hold you responsible in the future if something is missing but that would also make you feel better about cleanly severing all ties with them.

i wouldn't offer to do contract work unless you really want the cash because to me it looks like they'd try saddle you with an unreasonable workload.
posted by canned polar bear at 12:54 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh and working essentially two jobs to give your current employer a month's transition period is quite a bit of personal sacrifice. i don't think a lot of people would have done this. you have nothing to feel bad about. if your current employer knows you did this they probably see it as weakness and an opening to manipulate you into working for them longer than you should be.
posted by canned polar bear at 1:17 AM on April 10, 2012


You want to make a good impression at your new job, right? The best advice I ever got when I felt I needed to "wrap things up" before starting on a new project (within the same company no less) was to make the leap to what I wanted to do - sticking around for the old project would signal a lack of interest in the new project.

Take at least a couple days off so you can go in well-rested and clear-headed.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've done more than enough, you don't need to do any more.

You no longer work there! Hooray! Stop thinking like you do.

Good luck. I think this is going to be the best thing to happen to you in a long time :)
posted by dave99 at 7:11 AM on April 10, 2012


"If you press this issue, I'll leave tomorrow instead of in a month. You really don't own me, you know"
posted by MangyCarface at 7:18 AM on April 10, 2012


Well, now they are trying to pull me in for May as well to put out the next issue since "youll be hard to replace in that time"

May is like 3 weeks away. They have ample time to find someone else, they would just rather have you do it because you're totally used to being underpaid and underappreciated. They're trying to suck every last possible drop of energy that they can from you. Don't let them. This behavior is exactly why you want to leave.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:32 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now, while I can appreciate this, Im not really sure what my responsibility is to all that. I dont feel like killing myself in 2 jobs for 2 months and I certainly do not want having to work nights next month at this job to interfere in any way with my new job.

As shitty as this current job is, I do feel a bit bad for them and I have a certain friendly loyalty just from all of us being in this together for so long, but part of me wants to be all "um..not my problem" and move on down the road.

That just gives them another month to procrastinate. They're not going to use it to find your replacement. Cut the cord. Seriously, the work piling up at your old job is not your responsibility anymore. And your professionalism belongs to you, it's something that you bring with you no matter where you work.

The energy it will take to keep one foot in your old job is no good for your personally, and is not entirely fair to your new employer, either. Which of these makes more sense and will benefit your career more: 1) loyalty to the former job that you have already quit -- which is still treating you poorly, or 2) loyalty to your brand-new job which will be paying your bills for the immediate future -- where you're making a fresh start and already respected?

Think of it this way. When you got that pay cut last year, I bet the CEO or some other upper-ranks leadership said that they were so sorry about it, such a tough decision but the show must go on, right? Did any of them feel badly enough to make up the difference in your pay out of their own pocket? That's kind of like what you're doing -- you're giving your old job a chunk of your personal life to cover their inability to run their business fairly.
posted by desuetude at 2:45 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


A minor point to consider: you gave them a full month's notice, which was more than generous. But by now, as 23skidoo points out, May is about 3 weeks away --- so instead of trying to find your replacement, they've chosen to WASTE that extra time with trying to guilt-trip you into staying!

Makes me wonder about all their other business practices.... like, you need to be SURE they give you your last paycheck promptly, then cash that puppy IMMEDIATLY.....
posted by easily confused at 2:51 PM on April 10, 2012


Another minor point to consider: I came into this thread curious about how much extra money they were offering you, in order to induce you to keep doing work after the term of your generous month's notice was up. $10K? $20K? Was wondering how much money it'd take to get me to rescind a month's quit notice. Was wondering what kind of arguments could be mustered in the face of $20K, if it in fact had been offered.

In fact with last year's pay cut, I am effectively making less than I did when I started, and now I am also our de fact web designer/webmaster.

I am sorry to report that I laughed out loud when I read the above. No offense intended. You're still talking to these people why? Money talks. Sorry attempts at guilt-tripping a loyal employee after they cut their pay below their starting salary? That walks.

They made their bed, now let them lie in it. If you're wondering how to handle the next attempt at guilt tripping:

"Oh, I'm willing to discuss all options." Then in the ensuing discussion, you make clear that a retention bonus of $X is the option you're willing to discuss. $X should be at least five times as much money as you've lost in salary since the pay cut, and it should be payable in a lump sum the first day after the day you intended to leave their employ.

The nice thing about this is that even if they hear you out and offer what you're asking for, or a little less, you don't have to accept. But then it becomes very hard for them to badmouth you later: "Oh yeah, that guy, he gave a month's notice, then we offered him $5000 to stay on and he declined. What a terrible employee we thought he was. Really horrible."
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 9:15 PM on April 10, 2012


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