Planning to quit? How much notice will you give?

More than 4 million Americans have quit their jobs every month for the last six months, presumably to take another one or on confidence they will find one.

In December, Virginia ranked second among states for the quit rate, at 3.3% of employed residents. That’s behind only Alaska, at 5.5%, according to the Labor Department.

When it comes to quitting, there is a certain professional courtesy that is expected. But, it is no longer always the case.

“Most people don’t give two weeks’ notice anymore. They don’t have to do that, but it is a professional courtesy. Actually, a lot of people — nearly half — gave one weeks’ notice or less,” said Jamie Seale, a data analyst at national real estate agent-to-consumer brokerage Clever Real Estate, which surveyed about 1,000 U.S. adults who have quit their job in the last year.

Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said they gave the standard two weeks’ notice, but 10% said they left right after resigning, and 13% said they ghosted the company.

“They just left without telling anyone — and didn’t respond to any attempts by their employer to try to communicate with them,” Seale said.

There are all sorts of reasons gainfully employed Americans quit a job, and the pandemic has added new wrinkles.

But the top reason for quitting isn’t because of pay or wanting the freedom to work from home. It is because of a toxic work environment, which was cited by 31% as the reason why they quit.

“A toxic work culture is an environment in the workplace that is characterized by discrimination, verbal abuse, sexual harassment and poor work-life boundaries,” Seale said.

A toxic work environment also includes cutthroat competition between employees and poor communication between managers and their staffs.

It is not confined to office settings. Consumer-facing roles have the highest rates of attrition, partly caused by rude customer behavior that has sometimes spiraled into screaming and physical aggression.

A toxic work culture was cited by 31% of those surveyed as why they quit, topping the list.

Changing career goals was second, at 30%, followed by burnout, at 29%, and lower pay and bad benefits, at 28%.

Of recent quitters, 80% say their employer did make a counter offer to keep them, but they still decided to leave. In fact, the survey found 53% who left for another job in the last year took a pay cut to find better working conditions or more job satisfaction.

Clever Real Estate’s entire survey of recent job quitters is online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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