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Chris Holmes worked days for the Border Force at Stansted Airport and baked cakes in his spare time. After three years of moonlighting, Mr. Holmes decided it was time to pursue his cake business full-time. This left the matter of announcing his decision to his employer. How better for a baker to resign than on a cake!
Mr. Holmes carefully scripted the text of his full resignation letter on the top of one of his custom crafted cakes and by delivering it, thereby tendered his resignation, perhaps giving new meaning to the expression “parting is such sweet sorrow”.
So often, as employment lawyers, we hear about resignations gone bad: those done in haste and anger, or those done publicly and in a manner intended to embarrass and humiliate the former employer. Mr. Holmes’ delicious submission turned my mind to the value of a “good” resignation. The text of Mr. Holmes’ cake resignation speaks to the reasoning behind his decision, in this case his personal decision to pursue his passion. So often employees use their exit as an opportunity to vent to the employer about everything they disliked about working there in an unproductive, critical and often highly emotional manner. There may in fact be an appropriate way in which to communicate constructive feedback to an employer if there was a work-related reason for an employee’s departure, such as in the context of an exit interview, but this should be offered up in an objective and constructive way.
Mr. Holmes also clearly communicated the fact of the resignation and gave his official “notice”. Although the amount of the notice in his case was not specified, it is important for employees to give thought to what amount of notice is required or appropriate. Employees should check the terms of any hire letter, employment contract or applicable policy, for requirements regarding the length of notice of resignation. In the absence of any language, the employee should give thought to how much time the employer will reasonably need to recruit, find and train a replacement when considering the amount of notice. Nothing sours a departure more than an employer being caught off guard about the employee’s departure and then having to scramble in the absence of adequate transition time.
Finally, Mr. Holmes wished his employer well and, in doing so, was even able to go so far as to insert a plug for his new business (“I remind you that, if you enjoy this cake, you can order more at…”). I’m sure that many of Mr. Holmes’ former colleagues did indeed enjoy the cake, and I bet that they will not hesitate to direct business his way in the future as a result. So often this gets lost in the exit process. For many, the opportunity to take a kick at the can on the way out can be too tempting to resist. However, in doing so, many employees forget that the momentary elation they may feel in the parting shot can be quickly drowned out by the wave of potential future business opportunities that are lost by that one swift action.
Mr. Holmes truly figured out the way to have his cake and eat it too.