I have recently reluctantly resigned from my job of 13 years. I like my job, the people I work with, the projects are interesting and the remuneration seems fair. But the company had fallen behind on industry standards and I felt I had to move in order to stay current.

My current employer wants to keep me on and promises to reform and get up-to-date. As is to be expected, there is a cost associated with that. Both monetary (new licenses) and in project delivery.

I like the idea of staying on with my current employer, but should I see through my resignation regardless? Or is there a way back?

In your experiences, will employers harbour some resentment in having their hands forced by an employee?

Is there a golden rule that says "once committed to leave, leave" ?

  • 26
    Do you feel you can trust your employer's word?
    – user83977
    Aug 9, 2021 at 22:39
  • 1
    It sounds like you need some form of commitment from them, or possibly ask if you can have some sort of position of oversight on the reformation.
    – user25730
    Aug 9, 2021 at 22:41
  • 1
    @iDriveSidewayz - I know where you are coming from and on this occasion yes; there is a lot of mutual respect, and the technical director is genuinely excited to see this reform through. Generally, I would fully endorse the caution you express for other people in similar situations.
    – iwarv
    Aug 9, 2021 at 22:50
  • 3
    @iwarv Have you signed a contract for the job you have lined up? Aug 10, 2021 at 11:02
  • 5
    My local pub has had a sign behind the bar saying "free beer tomorrow" for the past 30 years. Believe what people tell you at your own risk.
    – alephzero
    Aug 10, 2021 at 11:23

6 Answers 6


Normally, before you resign from a job you like that you've held for 13 years over something like this, you would have raised the issue with your boss and the rest of the management. Most likely several times over the years with increasing levels of urgency. Assuming that is the case, it is relatively unlikely that the resignation of a single employee is going to make a huge difference and compel the entire organization to embrace current standards. Even if people have the best of intentions today, change is hard, has both monetary and time costs, and often conflicts with tactical business needs to get things done quickly and clean them up later. If you stay, you'll most likely find in a year that not much has changed, the company is still behind the industry standards, and you're just as unhappy as you are today.

Of course, predictions are hard. Especially about the future. Although most companies that fall behind the curve stay behind the curve, there is a minority that succeed in catching up. It is certainly possible that your company is in that minority. If you believe that leadership is sincerely committed to to the change you want and you believe the plan they have has a reasonable chance of working in your particular organization, it's perfectly reasonable to set some benchmarks (i.e. in 3 months I'd want to see x, in 6 months I'd want to see y) and to stay on as long as those benchmarks are being achieved. Just be realistic about the chances of success-- if the same people in management are facing the same set of internal and external problems, the best predictor of what they're going to do is what they've done in the past.

  • 23
    And usually you would have gotten a job you do want before quitting.
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 9, 2021 at 23:21
  • 8
    @mxyzplk That depends. If one can afford a few months of vacations and is confident that they will find a new job, it may be simpler to just leave and start looking afterwards. I did that recently.
    – Frax
    Aug 10, 2021 at 11:08
  • Sometimes one quitting key employee is the final straw that triggers actual change. But I have seen this case exactly once, while I have seen many times that people got pacified with fuzzy promises that never turned into much.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 11, 2021 at 11:46

I like the idea of staying on with my current employer, but should I see through my resignation regardless? Or is there a way back?

Since your employer wants you back, you could choose to un-resign. "Should" is something only you can decide. You must feel you had good reasons for resigning. It's hard to see how those reasons could change. Promises to "reform and get up-to-date" are pretty vague.

In your experiences, will employers harbour some resentment in having their hands forced by an employee?

Usually, but not always, there will be at least be a bit of stigma attached.

Is there a golden rule that says "once committed to leave, leave" ?

There's no golden rule. Even if there was, you don't need to adhere to it.

In my experience, if you go back, the reasons driving your resignation will come back quickly. Companies simply don't change in response to one individual.

Your mileage may vary.

In your comments you indicate that you already have a new job that is current with standards. IMHO, it's time to move on.

  • 1
    "Companies simply don't change in response to one individual." - I agree. But for context, the entire team had expressed the desire to refresh several times during my tenure. Although I now appear to have forced the issue, it's not just me that wants this.
    – iwarv
    Aug 10, 2021 at 7:31
  • 1
    The technical director dropped all activities to investigate the barriers preventing reform. He's already declared that reform must now happen, and not just for my sake and keeping me. As for staying current - not many of us have such assurances from current or prospective employers I would imagine - the onus falls on us to prod them?
    – iwarv
    Aug 10, 2021 at 12:09

Been there, done that.

Seriously though, I have worked at a placed I loved. People were great, work was good.

But even though it was a very young team (no one over 40) it was way behind standards. And I told them a couple of times. When I told them I will leave they said "Oh, we didn't realized we were that behind" and they suddenly implemented the changed I asked for.

I still changed and the next job was also great. People again are really chill, and work is good. The company does already stay up to date and even beyond. Here I don't have to ask over and over again. And I feel much more at ease knowing, I don't have to beg for stuff.

Seriously best decision in my life and I still keep in touch with my old work and there are no hard feelings.

Don't stay if you have to leave every time you ask for something.


I resigned. Should I leave despite promises of reform?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Being unwilling to change to keep up with industry trends is an absolutely massive red flag. It implies that the company's management lacks the foresight to see the direction that their chosen industry is moving in. Over time the company will fail to retain employees because they, like you, are able to see the writing on the wall and will jump ship to better-managed employers. This will lead to a smaller pool of employees for this company to choose from, which means the company will have to be less picky, which means it will end up hiring lower-quality personnel, which means the company's productivity will suffer. This is effectively the beginning of a death spiral for that company.

Don't fall into the trap of believing that 13 years of employment means the company is loyal to you and by leaving you're being disloyal. They didn't keep you around for 13 years because you're a great person, they kept you around because you've done your duty and made them money. If you hadn't been doing that you'd've been out on your... ahem a long time ago.

On the flip side, a company has a duty to its employees to operate in a manner that guarantees the long-term success of that company. By ignoring industry changes, this company is violating that duty.

Their claim to change is also likely nothing more than a sop to try to keep you. Again, not because they like you, but because you make them money. Don't fall into this trap - I can almost guarantee that if you do decide to stay on, the promised changes will never be implemented.

Find a new employer and work there. If you really like your old employer that much, check back in a year to see if they've implemented the changes they promised, and if so consider talking to them about returning.

But I wouldn't hold my breath.


As some others have already pointed out, you need to use your own judgment of the situation to decide. There is no rule about whether you should definitely leave or not after handing in your resignation. But here are some important thinking points/responses:

  1. Have you already had conversations about reform with your boss and other decision-makers? What were the results of those discussions? If there was total resistance and dismissal, then that's a big deal. Or if they said they would change and did not, that's another red flag. But if it felt like they were willing but just unable to get started, then that's hopeful.

  2. Employers can certainly harbor resentment in these situations, but it largely depends on the kind of conversation you had. If you were cold or angry, dismissive, etc. toward your boss or the company, and they felt blackmailed into this decision, then your relationship has probably suffered. But if you had a heart-to-heart conversation, where you expressed your regret and how much you loved working there, then they might understand the weight of your decision and your argument and sincerely desire to change, especially if you already have a great relationship. There's definitely a way to have these kinds of conversations where you value and maintain the relationships.

  3. This kind of change is very hard. It's not just expensive and time-consuming; it's incredibly complex. The company must balance between continuing to provide value to customers while rebuilding things piece-by-piece. They need to be in it for the long haul.

But if you do stay... make sure you and the company identify specific goals and specific deadlines for those goals in writing - then hold them to it. In a very real way, you don't know for sure whether they will change (hence this question). This is a way to say "I'm here if you do, and I'm not if you don't." Again, to point 2 above, you need to communicate this in a straightforward but respectful way. But this is how healthy relationships work: promises must be kept. If they are unwilling to commit to something in writing then I think you have your answer.


Personal preference

First of all, staying 13 years with single employer is rather uncommon in modern times. Ask yourself (and answer honestly), why did you do that ? Was the pay that good, promotions, work environment, job security ... Or you were afraid you cannot find better job, tied to location (mortgage for example) or simply lazy ?

Second, what are your current cold-hearted interests ? Did you find a better job, better salary, better chances of promotion, more modern industry standards since you mentioned that as a main reason for resignation ? Leaving for the sake of leaving is a foolish thing, and so is emotionally attaching self to a company (legal entity created primarily to earn money for its owners) .

Third, is your current employer trustworthy enough, i.e. what are the chances he would fulfill (at least partially) what he promised ?

In the end, decision is yours. My advice would be to stick with the option that pays better (in the long run, not just few monthly salaries) and that would keep you relevant in your field. Do not leave just because you "gave your word" , but do not stay because of some foolish sense of loyalty (company would dumpy you if they do not need you).

  • 5
    Staying for many years might be uncommon, but that doesn't make it a wrong thing to do. I do my job because I enjoy it, getting paid for it is a nice addon to that. I could easily be earning twice as much elsewhere, doing something that's much less fun. Does that make me "simply lazy"?
    – TooTea
    Aug 10, 2021 at 14:21
  • @TooTea I never said it is a "wrong" thing to do. I said it is uncommon, and OP needs to do some soul searching on this matter. As for your case, had you actually read my answer, you would found work environment as one of motivators ;)
    – rs.29
    Aug 10, 2021 at 18:37
  • @rs.29 When the work is interesting, the people are nice, the pay is adequate/good and the commute is short, isn't falling behind then a simple matter of better the devil you know?
    – iwarv
    Aug 11, 2021 at 6:27
  • @iwarv I mentioned various motivators. But "devil you know" is actually physiological thing. OP is actually not so satisfied with current job, otherwise he would not resign. In such cases, there is often fear and laziness as factors. "Devil you know" is still a devil, and if you consider your job to be a devil, maybe there did come a time for change.
    – rs.29
    Aug 11, 2021 at 7:16
  • @rs.29 I am the OP. I don't really want to make this SE question entirely about me, but I see some context may be required. I avoided redundancy last year and learned that other employers out there all ask for later standards. So you could say that COVID19 opened my eyes, but to say I was unhappy is - in my specific case - not quite correct. I suppose I was "lazy", as you put it.
    – iwarv
    Aug 11, 2021 at 8:55

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