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I will soon be resigning from my position at a company I’ve been with for 5 years. In the past, I have seen some (not all) employees who resigned from the company immediately get escorted out the building or be asked by HR/management not to share the news of their separation with any other employees. One of my previous colleagues with whom I was friendly resigned a few months ago and I only heard about her departure after she was gone. I have since tried to text and call her to wish her luck at her new job and let her know I’m here if she needs me, but never heard from her again (we were friends). I’ve developed close relationships with many of my coworkers over the years and cannot imagine just leaving and not letting them know that A) I wasn’t fired. I’m leaving on my own will; and B) I am grateful for my time spent with them and hope to stay in touch.

I’m trying to get ahead of this before I officially resign. My plan is to email my letter of resignation and 2 weeks’ notice to my boss and HR, and then a few hours later email my close colleagues to tell them I will be resigning. I worry that if I don’t tell my coworkers the news right away (and they hear from me) that HR/management will make me sign something that says I cannot let other employees know I am leaving for another job. Can they do this? Is this advisable?

  • What country is this job in? Laws vary. – BryanH Jul 20 '18 at 20:31
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    This question is almost identical to one that was closed last week for being too broad. Is it possible to narrow it to an answerable question? – shoover Jul 20 '18 at 21:36
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    So, what's your company going to do if you tell your coworkers? Fire you? – Abigail Jul 20 '18 at 21:40
  • What's stopping your from telling your coworkers first? That's what I did at my previous employer: tell my team members first, then my manager, and only then I dropped off my resignation at HR. (But this was in Europe, your use of "two weeks' notice" does me make assume you're in the USA) – Abigail Jul 20 '18 at 21:48
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I worry that if I don’t tell my coworkers the news right away (and they hear from me) that HR/management will make me sign something that says I cannot let other employees know I am leaving for another job. Can they do this?

The time for your employer to have you sign anything like that would have been when you started working for them.

Once you have resigned, there's no compelling reason for you to enter into an agreement with your former employer, and they certainly cannot force you to sign anything.

Unless you have some kind of preexisting contract that prevents you from telling your coworkers about your new employment, you have every right to share those details.

  • Agreed, but if management / HR think Workerbee123 has agreed not to tell other staff, it would be useful to let them know before doing that. One way is legitimate disagreement with what's been proposed (and don't ask them - tell them), the other is not keeping a promise. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Jul 21 '18 at 9:49
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I have a number of associates and semi colleagues at large companies like Microsoft. We may have been on a project together, or spoken at the same conference, that sort of thing.

Reasonably often, I'll suddenly get a linked in request from one of them. This is someone I've known for years and emailed back and forth with, or have on Skype, or whatnot. So I used to be puzzled when these requests came in. Why are you connecting with me now?

But now I get it. Because within a few days or weeks there will be an email, or a tweet, or whatever that they are leaving BigCorp and starting a new adventure. The linked in connection means they can stay in touch even when they lose their BigCorp email address and giant mound of "emails I sent and received" that most of us use as an address book.

So, you can use this same approach. If you have people's contact info only in a format you will lose when you quit (and especially if you might be walked out) take some time to record it in another format, such as a paper book, before you tell your bosses anything. (If you signed a nondisclosure or non compete, make sure that information such as your coworker's email addresses is something you are allowed to take away when you leave. Client contact info almost certainly will be forbidden.) Add people on linked in. Add them on facebook if that's appropriate (you're really friends.) Ask for their phone number and text them so they have yours. Don't explain yourself, don't say "I'll be quitting soon so I'm adding you now", just add them. Some will understand and say nothing, some won't understand but will accept anyway, and some might come back to the invitation and accept it after you're gone.

Once you tell your bosses, you may be walked out, you may be asked not to tell anyone (so much for your plan to send a big email hours after telling the bosses), or you may be free to talk about it. But by creating the connections in advance, you will have less need to tell people during your notice period, and are more likely to be able to talk to them after it.

  • You may be asked not to tell anyone. Doesn't mean you have to agree. – Martin Bonner Jan 28 at 15:22
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Did you ever sign a contract or (verbally) promise anything preventing you to apprise third parties about a contract termination or to make HR the very first to be informed?

Read your contract(s) carefully.

If in doubt consult a lawyer. I highly recommend to do that anyways.

Also try to find out if there are laws in your country regarding this matter in connection with your line of work and employer, especially if the contract(s) don't mention this.

Pay special attention to the law if you work in the government, military, intelligence, security, public service or finance fields. If so, your contract probably will regulate it anyways, but better safe than sorry.

In case there is nothing prohibiting you to tell your coworkers you may simply do that before you hand in your resignation.

This way, if they would try to make you sign anything or order you not to share this it is already done according to your preference. (Be aware, this might anger your employer and may burn bridges)

You could also tell your coworkers that it is in confidence and they should not disclose this until you informed HR. Very shortly thereafter make your direct superior and HR aware of your decision. Be prepared for getting swiftly escorted from the premises as it seems to be practice.

It does strike me as odd that your coworker stopped communicating with you right after she left the company.

It might not be related to that but if indeed the company compels people to this behavior it might very well not be legal in your country, especially if there is nothing in your contract about this (mind you it might have been in hers).

In future contact attempts you might want to mention your research results and experience to her.

Oh and DON'T sign anything you're uncomfortable with once you handed in your resignation.

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