On Notice Periods

My thoughts on revamping notice periods in companies.

Notice Period by definition is the time period between the resignation date and last working day of an employee.

Most companies in their legal agreements with employees decide a-priori the duration of notice periods which can range from 30-90 days.

Notice periods more than 60 days are heavily biased towards an employer. Employees, in most cases, have no option but to serve the time.

On the other hand, no employer likes to wait for 2 or 3 months for anyone to join and yet they themselves may have a policy of 2 to 3 months of notice period.

Superficially, it seems very hippo-critical.


Proposal to revamp notice periods.

Notice Period = Opportunities Period

We should rename Notice Periods to Opportunities Periods and make following a mandate for an employer. Under this Opportunities Period program:

  • Companies have an opportunity to resolve employees issues which weren’t obvious or could not be communicated earlier and have reached a stage where she/he has to look for opportunities elsewhere.
  • Employees have an opportunity to discuss their issues and companies are obliged to work in a time bound opportunities period to resolve the problem or at-least put forward a proposal to eventually resolve the problems. (Sometimes, it’s likely that problems are long term culture issues which when pointed out need prolonged time period for resolution).

The culture in the industry around notice periods is extremely toxic, rather switching jobs in general. Employees secretly start searching for newer opportunities, lie about their leaves when interviewing at other places during weekdays( some companies do allow anonymous leaves with no explanations required but one may have to give reasons for their leaves (another sign of a bad culture) at some smaller or tightly knit companies)).

It’s understandable that companies want to keep attrition rate as low as possible. Therefore, going an extra mile to retain an employee can vastly affect the economics of hiring and retention simultaneously.

However, a great amount of psychological safety environment should prevail a priori in a company for such an Opportunities Period program to work.

Talk to them, understand them.

When one resigns, employers should understand true reasons. Such an examination can either be conducted by the HR department or could be the immediate manager. If the employer can truly understand the reasons behind one’s resignation, then there’s no notice period altogether. The catch here is that most employees either can’t or don’t want to reveal true reasons perhaps due to cultural or personal reasons.

If the company concludes that they can’t really do anything about resolving the issues, then help them look for a right company which can solve their problems in a company’s network.

Some of these ideas may sound a little optimistic or idealistic. I don’t think there is a secret sauce to hiring and retention. All one can really do is experiment and figure out what works for you, your company or your industry at large.

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