Landing a new job can be an extremely exciting event for someone. It’s a chance to meet new people, explore new opportunities, and hopefully increase one’s compensation.
But severing ties with the current employer can often be an uncomfortable situation, which can be made more uncomfortable because of the personality of the departing employee, the personality of the employer or manager, and/or the overall culture of the business and society in general.
Will You Quit for Me?
The Japanese culture is often stereotyped as rigidly hierarchical with strict social and societal expectations, and that has extended to the workplace. “For decades, Japan’s work culture revolved around the idea that people should spend their entire careers at a single employer,” says Bill Chappell of NPR. “But that sense of deep loyalty has shown cracks in recent years.”
The solution, as presented by one innovative company, is simply to have someone else do the quitting for you. “Workers in Japan who want to leave their job —but don’t want to face the stress of quitting in person—are paying a company called Exit to tell their bosses that they won’t be back,” says Chappell. “People hoping to never set foot in their workplace again pay Exit $450 to help them quit their full-time jobs; those who have had it with part-time work can pay around $360.”
Limits to What This Company Can Do
Chappell says that while Exit may save employees some of the anxiety of facing their employers in person, it isn’t able to handle more complex issues like negotiating severance payments.
Additionally, expectations in Japan around employees leaving a company–if they leave at all–are more onerous than in the United States. In fact, while it’s customary for departing employees in the United States to give 2 weeks’ notice, Chappell says it’s actually the law in Japan.
Additionally, he cites Japanese workplace etiquette website Savvy Tokyo, which says that employees should give a full month’s notice and tell their manager about their future plans in a face-to-face meeting. “Etiquette also calls for a formal letter of resignation,” he adds, “and for departing employees to dole out an assortment of small gifts on their last day, to show their appreciation to their co-workers.”
While the workplace culture in Japan and the United States clearly differs in some important respects, employees in both countries feel anxiety when it comes to leaving an organization.
In a tight labor market, where employees have a number of new opportunities opening up for them, there are likely many employees experiencing the bittersweet sensation of quitting one job and starting another.