Sunday, May 04, 2014
How much do we owe our bosses before we move on?
A reader from the Midwest is looking to move on from the first job she took after completing her education. She describes the managers at her current job as wonderful for hiring her fresh out of school and training her.
But since the beginning of the year, she's been considering a move, mostly because she's no longer happy in the position, partly due to the fact that some of the skills she brought to the job have been ignored "to the extent where I must turn away and shut my mouth in situations where I could potentially be of use."
She also believes it's simply time to experience other aspects of her profession in different areas of the country.
No one at the company (to her knowledge) knows she's considering a move. She hopes to leave on good terms by giving appropriate notice once she finds a new job. However, her search "pretty much ground to a halt" when she learned a co-worker was pregnant.
"What are the ethics of finding a new job and leaving as the company is now starting to develop a plan to cover six to eight weeks of maternity leave, including possible overtime opportunities?" she asks.
Giving notice and then forcing her employers to hire someone new who'd need to be trained and ready to work independently by the time the co-worker started maternity leave was not the way she wanted to end her relationship with the company.
"We don't have a large pool of staff from which to pull when someone is out, and even a week-long vacation almost inevitably results in overtime and mild burnout for some people due to the long hours we maintain," she writes.
She's now looking at job postings only halfheartedly, since "I know it's decidedly not the right thing to saddle my employers with this burden."
Now, she wonders if she's obligated to continue working in a place where she believes she's overstayed her welcome until her co-worker returns from maternity leave.
While the reader shows a great deal of appreciation and loyalty for the job and training her employers gave her, she's under no obligation to cut her own job-hunting plans short based on the effect her co-worker's leave will have on the business. For one thing, she has no idea if other situations will arise that place pressure on her employers before the co-worker returns. For another, as long as she's worked hard and well at her current position and treated co-workers with respect, she can leave knowing she gave the current job her all.
The right thing, if the reader is ready to move on to new challenges, is to continue her job search, find a new position, and give her employers a reasonable amount of notice so they can prepare to hire a replacement. When she gives notice, the right thing for her employers to do is to congratulate her, thank her for her good work, and wish her well.
Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is a lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin