Be ready to back up your threat to quit your job

James Harrison, the Pro bowl linebacker from the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, was quoted in 2010 as saying he would consider retiring from the NFL because of a fine he received for a particular tackle he made on an opponent. Most people didn't take his statement seriously, but this threat to quit football was newsworthy enough that the entire football world was talking about it.

Threatening to quit your job is a very serious matter. Such threats often come during highly emotional times and can lead to further unappealing consequences if not portrayed and planned properly. Once a threat to quit your job is made, the possibility of losing income involuntary is on the table. Losing your income can be a devastating blow to your standard of living and carry a residual effect on your personal financial standing, even years after finding new work. I'm not sure what kind of emergency fund James Harrison keeps, but for most of us losing our income would hurt.

There are employees who make demands or threaten to quit their jobs for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they're trying to bring attention to a particular issue they're not happy with. Maybe they believe leaving their job will bring negative attention to a boss they don’t like. Perhaps the reason for quitting is that there hasn't been any advancement or pay increases. Regardless of the reason, the person making the threat needs to be sure of a couple things prior to making any statements.

Consider the word “threaten”. There's always the chance, that when faced with an ultimatum, an employer may believe it's in their best interest to just let you go. Also, it would be wise to make sure you have a guaranteed source of income to fall back on before making such statements. Additionally, even if you decide to stay, how will your threat be viewed in the future? Will your loyalties be questioned? How will your statements change the dynamic between you and your employer? Will your employer continue to look at you with favor?

Be especially careful about falling into the trap of thinking you are irreplaceable. Even James Harrison can be replaced. That is why the Steelers have second and third string players suited up on the sidelines. Just about anyone can be replaced with a substitute, temporary worker, or contractor very quickly, especially considering the state of our economy.

Whatever the issue at work is, the bottom line is that safeguarding your income should be your primary concern throughout the entire issue. Make sure that if tomorrow morning your employer decides to go ahead and take you up on the threat, and either fire you or agree you should go, make sure that the next day you'll have a paycheck. Don't threaten your standard of living by making an offhand remark in the heat of the moment. Take some time to assess your situation and make the move that is best for your income.

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