I Quit! The Changing Risks of the Jerry Maguire Moment

bridge burning employees HR Jerry Maguire Recruiting workplace issues

Work can be stressful, and colleagues and bosses can be boorish, abrasive, and disrespectful. When mistreated employees—or at least those who believe they’ve been mistreated—sever their employment, it can be tempting to go out with a bang, a la Jerry Maguire or Jennifer Aniston’s character in Office Space.

But the age-old advice from most career mentors, parents, and other confidants has consistently been “Don’t burn bridges!”

employee quitting

The Negative Potential of ‘Bridge Burning’

Even when the employer or certain colleagues really seem to have it coming, it’s best to avoid making enemies unnecessarily. You never know when your situation may change and you need to come crawling back to that employer.

Or, maybe some colleague you couldn’t stand at your last job has now joined your new employer in a position of importance. Is the long-term career damage worth a few minutes of vindictive glory?

While it’s probably never a great trade-off, some observers believe the risks of quitting with passion or raising a stink on the job aren’t what they once were.

Common Wisdom Evolving

“Professional ‘bridge burning’ can happen in several ways,” says Leah Carroll in an article for BBC Worklife. “For some … it can mean stoking tension while still in a job; for others, it can mean quitting without notice, publicly disparaging an employer or any other act that permanently destroys a professional relationship.”

While acknowledging that bridge burning has long been considered a career killer, “an act that could wreck a worker’s reputation, and make it difficult to find employment down the line, especially in competitive industries,” sometimes it simply must be done.

Workplace priorities are shifting, making burning bridges perhaps not as much of a risk as it once was. “As workers become increasingly vocal about workplace issues and toxic job environments, open discussions about the negative aspects of work are becoming more normalised and less professionally damaging,” Carroll writes. In some cases, she says, “actions that were formerly seen as career killers may be necessary to change the workplace for the better.”

Different Situations Demand Different Approaches

Of course, this post shouldn’t be taken as a call to employees to break out their best Jerry Maguire impressions. Whether and how to leave a job or take a stand at work is a very personal decision. A potential shift in attitudes doesn’t mean the risks of burning bridges have simply evaporated. Nevertheless, for those with a penchant for the dramatic, some experts believe the risks aren’t as daunting as they once were.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

The post I Quit! The Changing Risks of the Jerry Maguire Moment appeared first on HR Daily Advisor.