Given cutbacks, not all employees are playing nice when they quit

By Eve Tahmincioglu

msnbc.com contributor

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Richard Laermer, CEO of New York-based RLM PR, has noticed a disturbing trend lately. Employees who quit aren’t giving the customary two weeks’ notice, and some are even breaking noncompete agreements they signed.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” he says. “After 19 years of doing this job, as a CEO no less, I find myself shocked at how people are doing this.”

Laermer suspects it all started after he announced layoffs in November and then canceled the Christmas party.

Many of the employees felt angry and nervous, and they wondered if the axe might fall on them, he surmises. And despite his efforts to quell employees’ fears, saying he’d borrow money if he had to before he made another job cut, some workers bolted for new jobs — without any concern about burning bridges.

At a time when so many companies are laying off workers, slashing wages and benefits, and instituting furloughs, it’s not surprising that some employees feel no obligation to be nice when they head out the door, says David Kaplan, management professor for Saint Louis University. “It’s understandable,” he adds, “because they feel the employer has violated the psychological contract with employees, and they don’t feel they owe them anything.”

S.T.G, an employee for a Chicago-based general contractor who did not want his full name used because he didn’t want to jeopardize his job, says his employer instituted a array of cutbacks about a month ago — including reductions in pay, vehicle allowance and sick days — and announced a mandatory one-week furlough for the end of the summer.

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