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When you quit a job, you typically give two weeks’ notice. But at KIND Healthy Snacks they do things differently.
Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky asks employees, whom he calls “team members,” for at least two months, and in some cases two years’ notice.
In return, Lubetzky focuses on their professional growth with “unremitting loyalty and trust” until the day they leave.
It may sound extreme, unrealistic even, to ask for two months’ notice — or two years’ notice from those who work with him directly — but his reasoning makes perfect sense.
“We call the KIND team a ‘family,’ so major life transitions [like changing jobs] aren’t meant to be concealed until the last minute,” Lubetzky tells Business Insider. “No one should be scared to talk about what’s next for them.
“I would rather a team member come to me months in advance letting me know what they have going on in their life,” he says, “whether it be a baby on the way, a relocation for personal reasons, or a plan to go back to school.”
Lubetzky doesn’t expect his employees to accept a job elsewhere and ask the new employer to delay their start date by two months or two years. He simply wants anyone who is exploring new opportunities to be open about it.
“Asking for two months’ notice is a small piece reflective of the larger KIND culture of open communication,” he says. “We strive for a culture of constant communication. Team members know in real time if there are performance issues. Team leaders know in real time if a team member is unhappy.”
As a result, team leaders are rarely surprised by a team member’s decision to leave. “Instead, these ‘transitions’ are collaboratively worked through and next steps are often determined in collaboration,” Lubetzky says.
Plus, he says, it helps ease the transition from old team members to new ones, and ensures that the recruitment and hiring process isn’t rushed. “When someone gives 60 days’ notice, they’re able to play an active role in identifying and training their replacement.”
After notice is given, a team member’s priority quickly becomes finding the right person to fill their position — who better to know what type of candidate would excel in a role than the person in it?
Ideally, Lubetzky says, the old team member and new team member overlap, which helps prevent things from slipping through the cracks: “The new team member is given an opportunity to pick the old team member’s brain, ask questions, and gain unique perspective on the role.”
This policy may seem risky for those employees who make it known that they’re dissatisfied and then ultimately decide to stay, but, according to Lubetzky, it isn’t. “Ideally, a team member wouldn’t start looking for a new job until they, together with their team [leader], had explored other options at the company.”
For example, if an employee went to their boss and said, “I am unhappy here,” together they would discuss the source of that discontentment and determine if there were other areas within the company where that employee might find greater satisfaction. Then, that team member would either transition to a new role within KIND or, together with their team leader, would agree it was the best decision for them to move on and begin exploring other job opportunities. “This would be an ongoing dialogue, not a one-and-done conversation,” he says.
Lubetzky first implemented this policy when he founded the company in 2003.
“When we were smaller, roles were less defined, and team members wore many hats,” he tells us. “They sometimes performed tasks outside the realm of their job description. Transitioning those varied responsibilities to new team members or divvying them up as new departments were formed required time, and two weeks was often not enough.”
He says the policy is evolving, because he realises that the ability to give two months’ notice is dependent on circumstance, and because it’s getting harder to enforce as the company grows (its products are now sold in over 80,000 stores). “But the frame of thinking remains the same: We’re all owners and with ownership comes a deeper level of responsibility and loyalty to one another.”
If you’re wondering whether employees actually oblige, the answer is yes, most do.
Lubetzky says plenty of team members have given two months’ notice, or more, over the years.
KIND had one staffer who left because she was starting a family and wanted to focus on motherhood. “She told me this was her plan more than a year in advance. This allowed us to fully onboard her replacement and prepare the team members who worked with her directly,” he says. “As a result, the transition was smoother than it might have been.”
In another case, there was an employee who, after many years at KIND, let the company know she was planning to go back to graduate school full-time. “She was my assistant,” he says. “And she told us more than a year in advance so that we could help transfer her responsibilities to others. In exchange, not only was I able to be a reference for her and write letters of recommendation to every school, but I was also able to give her the opportunity to interview, hire, and train her replacement, which was a new experience for her.”
Being asked to give two months’ (or two years’) notice is a shift in thinking, but that’s because people have been taught that two weeks’ notice is the norm. “As an isolated piece of information, two months’ notice might shock some,” Lubetzky says. “But when understood in the greater context of KIND’s culture of open communication, it makes sense and is appreciated.”
When employees decide to leave, which he says is rare at KIND, Lubetzky says he trusts they have made a decision that’s right for them, and so KIND team members do their best to offer support throughout the process and even after the departing member has moved on.
“At its core, it’s about humanity,” Lubetzky says. “We’re all human, and part of being human is showing respect and support for other’s life choices. We want to instill a commitment to each other’s humanity in every team member.”
And this is a two-way street: “The standard policy of showing people the door in a cold way should be reserved for very rare incidents of serious misconduct.” In the vast majority of cases, KIND works with team members to ensure that, if something is not working out, they have a chance to improve things. Or if a particular job is not suited for them, they have a chance to explore a better fit within the company.
“If we conclude that things won’t work out, we work to ensure their departure is dignified and smooth and respectful, including giving them the chance to interview for other positions while still employed at KIND and organising their own transition,” Lubetzky says. “That doesn’t work perfectly, as it is such a different model from the traditional corporate model, but it is a much better model for both sides when it is implemented.”