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  • Lokajit Tikayatray

Should You Stop Working During Your Notice Period

When Rob, a valued member of our software engineering team, submitted his resignation, the team atmosphere shifted almost instantly.

Known for his proactive and sincere approach to work, Rob had always been someone we could count on.

But as he entered his four-week notice period, it was as if he became a different person altogether. A lackadaisical attitude replaced the commitment and enthusiasm he once displayed.

It was a bit disheartening to see the change in attitude.

I have a lot of experience in the industry, so I know this kind of change happens often.

But is it acceptable to let your performance slide during your notice period?

After all, you’re leaving the company soon, so why put in the extra effort? But on the other hand, you are drawing the same salary as the previous month. So, why change how you contribute?

These questions are more divisive than one might think.

Let’s look at this problem from a software engineer’s perspective. Is it justified to slack off during your notice period? Or if there’s merit in maintaining your performance.

The Diverse Behaviors Observed

Throughout the notice period, a spectrum of behaviors emerged. He seemed aloof and detached most days, doing the bare minimum to avoid potential conflicts with HR.

It was almost as if his mind had already checked out, leaving behind a physical presence that merely went through the motions.

Although not unusual for someone in a notice period, Rob’s approach surprised the team. It made their job more difficult. They had to work harder to keep the project on track.

Rob’s behavior during this period was in stark contrast to the proactive and sincere engineer we had known. His lack of effort and indifference affected the team’s morale and productivity. The deviation was clear and raised questions about conduct during a notice period.

The Justification Dilemma

The notice period often presents a unique psychological dilemma. On one hand, there’s the natural inclination to relax one’s efforts. On the other hand, there is professional ethics to perform based on your role and salary.

After all, with the end of their tenure in sight, an employee might feel detached from their current role. They are so focused on starting fresh somewhere else that they neglect their duties. They don’t see the point of putting effort into a place that won’t affect their future hikes or promotions.

But here’s the compelling part of this dilemma — while the individual mentally transitions to their next chapter, their current role still demands attention. The projects and responsibilities they leave behind don’t pause or diminish in importance.

This creates a conflict between the natural human tendency to look forward and the professional obligation to honor current commitments.

So, the question arises — Is it okay to let this shift in focus and effort happen? Does the excitement and anticipation of a new job make it alright to be less committed to the current one?

This is the crux of the dilemma faced during the notice period, where natural human behavior and professional ethics intersect, often leading to a challenging balancing act.

The Right Approach: A Balance of Professionalism and Preparation

Based on my experience, here’s a list of practical suggestions for software engineers navigating their notice period.

  1. Maintain Professionalism: Continue to deliver quality work. Your remaining time in the company should be a reflection of your contribution and professionalism. The Recency Bias makes people remember how you behaved before you left the company. And you don’t want to ruin your years of good work for a few weeks of poor behavior. Remember, the reputation you build will follow you throughout your career.

  2. Be Considerate: Your departure will impact your team. Make sure to leave your projects in good condition. Include thorough documentation and clear guidelines for the next person.

  3. Engage Actively: Don’t withdraw from team activities or discussions. Your insights are still valuable, and your active participation can help a smoother transition. Take pride in your excellent work and make it a reason people remember you after you leave the company.

  4. Prepare for the Next Chapter: While it’s essential to maintain your work standards, it’s also crucial to prepare for your next role. Use this time to wrap up your tasks and start planning for your upcoming position. This way, you are not leaving your current teammates high and dry. And simultaneously, make sure you are prepared for the next endeavor.

Benefits of Doing the Right Thing

  1. Positive Reputation: Maintaining a strong work ethic until the end ensures you don’t burn bridges. A good reputation can open doors to future opportunities in the interconnected world of software engineering. Colleagues and industry peers often know each other, and a good impression can lead to future recommendations and new career paths.

  2. Strong References: Just like well-documented code speaks for itself, strong references from your current job can be a testament to your professionalism. When you consistently perform well, even during your notice period, your managers and teammates are likelier to vouch for your skills and work ethic, which can be invaluable for future job prospects.

  3. Personal Growth: Staying engaged during your notice period is like adding the final touches to a well-designed software project. It is a chance to improve your skills and show you can handle transitions well. This not only prepares you for future challenges in your new job but also helps your career development.

  4. Peace of Mind: Knowing you always put your best foot forward gives a sense of accomplishment. This peace of mind helps you transition to your new role without worries. It lets you focus fully and be your best in your professional journey.

Conclusion: Work During Notice Period

Navigating the notice period is a journey filled with mixed emotions and uncertainties. However, maintaining a balance of professionalism and preparation for the next chapter is the hallmark of an exceptional software engineer.

How you handle your exit speaks volumes about your character and professional integrity.

So, make it count.


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