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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Community - May 2010

Are You Short-timing It?
Avoid Common Pitfalls that Come with Employment Transitions

"Some people bring joy and happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go." - Anonymous

Once you set a date to leave your current employer, it's not uncommon for your work habits and attitudes to change.Whether you are retiring or leaving your current job to take another, once you set a date to leave your current employer, it's not uncommon for your work habits and attitudes to change. You may find it difficult, or even unappealing to concentrate on tasks. You may find yourself irritated by little things you used to accept as "part of the job," or, the flip side, you may adopt a flippant attitude about things you used to feel were important. These are symptoms of a condition casually known as "short timer's syndrome."

Short-timer's syndrome, or STS, has been studied and documented since the early 20th century. Basically, it refers to a shift in morale, rise in anxiety and withdrawal from commitment that may accompany change. Change can be difficult, scary and even liberating, so it is natural that your actions and attitudes change in anticipation. But, your last impressions can be just as important as first impressions, so you need to be aware of the image you project, even if your time with your colleagues is winding down.

Many companies may ask a resigning or retiring employee to leave within a day or two of the individual giving the customary two weeks' notice to avoid some of the negative impact of STS on remaining staff, productivity and the company's bottom line. While they probably don't mean to, short-timers may poison the morale of colleagues they are leaving behind, especially if they openly gloat about leaving or shirk their regular duties, leaving others to pick up the slack. Other concerns about short-timers from the employer's perspective may include theft, sabotage and corporate espionage.

Here are some things you can do to avoid being seen as a "lame duck" and remain productive in your final days or weeks with an employer, courtesy of the job search technology guide at About.com:

  • Give ample notice. Two weeks is the general rule of thumb, but take into account if you are leaving at a particularly busy time or if your department or company is already shorthanded. If you can give more notice, do so, but keep in mind the employer can, and may, opt to let you go sooner. No matter how much notice you offer, be sure not to mentally check out earlier than you promised.
  • Communicate. Your instinct may be to start severing ties, or your colleagues may start to shut you out. Take the time to talk with your boss, coworkers and direct reports and stay connected to the end. If the subject of why you are leaving comes up, be positive and light. Avoid expressing too much regret, as it may not appear sincere. Express appreciation and tell them that you will miss working with them.
  • Be helpful, but realistic. Do what you can to help ease the transition for your employer, but don't let your employer exploit your guilt to get you to do more in your final days than you reasonably are able to. Consider offering to help find and interview your replacement, help out on an on-call basis until your replacement is on board or stay on part-time to help train the new staff.
  • Don't change your habits. Conduct business as usual, clear up unfinished business and try to leave things in the same shape you'd like them if you were inheriting the responsibility.

It sometimes can be very easy to slip into a short-timer's attitude in your final days with a company. To help avoid letting stress lead you down that path, take care of yourself. Sleep regular hours and stay on a regular schedule to fight apathy and laziness, and maintain a healthy diet that allows you to stay energized and focused on your work.

While it can be a struggle to care about your job when you have one foot out the door, doing so can make the transition easier for those you leave behind, and can leave a positive impression of you that may come in handy down the road.