Storming out of your job might be a very bad idea. Many put-upon employees dream of telling their boss where to stick their job before storming out in a blaze of glory, but very few actually have the guts to manage it.
According to a national workplace law consultancy Protecting.co.uk, while most workplaces have stories of famous flounces, they are rare beasts indeed in the real world, and usually very bad news for both employer and employee. This is because workplace relations need to reach devastatingly low levels before someone is tempted to walk out, and by then irreparable damage can be done to a company’s reputation, the Yorkshire-based Protecting.co.uk company says. “Nevertheless, we’ve been allowed to tell these impressive tales of people single-handedly destroying their careers,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. “Despite the damage a spectacular resignation does to your CV, some see it as a badge of honour.” With permission, Protecting.co.uk has collected these impressive tales of workers sticking it to ‘The Man’:
Neil, 48: “I was a drone at a world-leading retail company, but got into an argument with the managing director (a familiar face on TV at the time) over what I saw as deliberately misleading statements in a report. The long and the short of it was that I passed him coming down while I was on the way up at another company. Very satisfying.”
Evan, 32: “It’s a long time ago now, but I quit my teenage paper round in a proper blaze of glory. One old bloke on my round routinely used to complain that I deliberately ripped his Daily Telegraph because I hated walking up his long driveway – I think so he’d get a discount on his bill. One day I happened to be in the shop when he complained, and I shouted ‘How would you like it if I flipping pushed it up your bum, you fat liar?’ That was the end of my paper round job.”
Katherine, 36: “Our company laid a load of people off for what a lot of us saw as no reason except to keep the boss rich. I was one of a number of people who quit in protest to set up another company doing the same sort of thing. I’d like to say we succeeded, but both companies folded horribly soon after. Not exactly my finest life choice.” Gita, 29: “They kept extending my trial period again and again and again, and it turned out they did that so I wouldn’t be paid the market rate. Not long after I found somebody willing to pay me said market rate, and I strutted – yes, strutted – out of the boss’s office after slapping my resignation on her desk.”
Michael, 32: “I’m a journalist. My editor refused to stand by me when we were accused of libelling a local politician. We won, but I told him there and then I wasn’t prepared to work with that lack of trust hanging over me. I won’t lie, I was out of work for six months after that.” Trudy, 33: “They wouldn’t let me have the week off work to go to my own sister’s wedding in the Bahamas, so I called the boss a terrible person to his face and left. It was a great wedding, but I’m still unemployed because people who promised me work let me down.”
Veronica, 22: “I worked in a convenience store as a student, and it was a health and safety nightmare. I walked out and went straight to the council after they asked me to pick my colleague’s severed finger off the floor when she lost it in the deli meat slicer.” Mo, 19: “I worked at a famous fast food place, and I know people get messed about by rude customers trying to get a free meal all the time. But when my supervisor wouldn’t stand up for me when someone accused me of deliberately sneezing on his burger, I just saw red and poured a whole milkshake over his head. People cheered.”
Protecting.co.uk’s Mark Hall says there are various issues swimming around in that list which explain how these dramatic resignations happened, but the most telling is the lack of trust between worker and manager. “Some employers have a default position where the low-level workers aren’t trusted at all, and that’s how you end up with a high staff turnover, or – worse – accusations of constructive or unfair dismissal,” he says. “That’s a huge expense no manager was to see on their balance sheet. Bosses should never let workplace relations get so bad that people are so disgusted that they walk out on you.”
There’s also the massive danger for employees of walking away from your job – no matter how justified you feel at the time. You might find that you have no job to go to, have no chance of claiming benefits, and have no way back after burning your bridges. “Storming out can be a nightmare for the employee,” says Hall. “Your flounce may go down in workplace history as something to gossip over during tea breaks, but that’s hardly going to get you into another job. And there’s no way you’re going to get a reference, either.” The message is clear for bosses and workers: Winning the Golden Flounce Award may seem funny and heroic at the time, but it opens an unwanted can of worms for all involved.