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How to Properly Handle an Employee’s Resignation

Posted on 5th April 2018 by Parker Bridge

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Most Managers have had to deal with an employee’s resignation throughout their careers and if you haven’t, you likely will have to at some point. However if you, like many leaders, approach someone’s decision to leave with a ‘by-the-book’ response, you’re placing your ability to attract and retain the best people in jeopardy.

The journey an employee goes through as they leave the business is just as important as their experience when they first came on board. It can have a direct impact on your company’s reputation, external brand and position within the market, and the worst case scenario is that it leads to the ‘domino effect’ where more employees decide to make for the door.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to go above and beyond a ‘by-the-book’ approach to an employee’s resignation. Read on to find out what you can do to ensure anyone who leaves your team does so on great terms.

Why Go Above & Beyond?

Before we go into how you can ensure your employees part ways on the best terms, you first need to understand the importance of going above and beyond. The first reason is your company’s reputation.

Protecting Your Business’s Reputation

Before the age of computers, word of mouth was the most powerful method of influencing others, but the way people communicate today has rapidly evolved.

Employees have a myriad of methods to publish their opinions on their current and past employers. Websites, such as Glassdoor, and job boards such as Seek and Indeed have changed the way people review businesses they currently work for, or have worked for previously. Even if an employee leaving the review doesn’t intend it, their opinion can have an impact on that business’s external brand. 

An employee who has had a bad experience will be more likely to leave a negative review and even go as far as voicing their opinion on social media for the world to see. The key to avoiding this is to ensure your employee has nothing but positive things to say after a smooth transition and leaving the door open for them to return later in their career.

Recognising the Rise of Boomerang Employees

‘Boomerang employees’ are on the rise and more employers are opening up to re-hiring former staff. In fact, keeping the door open for ex-employees can be incredibly valuable for your business. Not only can it take less time to train them, previous staff are already familiar with your company culture and internal processes and, depending on how long they’ve been away for, would have developed on existing and new skills and expertise that they can now bring to your organisation. However, the opinion that person had when they left your business can, of course, define whether they would want to return.

The Best Way to Approach Someone’s Resignation

To start with, Employment New Zealand has created a great checklist for what an employer needs to do when an employee resigns but this is just the basics. Here’s what else you can do to go above and beyond and ensure those who leave your business remain ambassadors for your company.

Don’t Overreact

Whilst it may seem obvious, Managers are people and people overreact. In the heat of the moment, when you and your team are facing pressure, someone’s resignation could often be a tipping point but you should always approach it with professionalism and composure. Unless you have a legitimate reason to put your employee on ‘garden leave’, don’t show them the door straight away. Instead, use their transition period to allow them to continue performing at their best and transferring crucial knowledge to their replacement.

Wish Them the Best

Although you may be disappointed in someone’s decision to leave, don’t forget to wish them the best and mean it. You can also spend some time with your employee and get to know their reasons for leaving. You can choose to do this in a formal exit interview if your company holds one or over a quick coffee away from the team. The insight you can gain from departing staff can help you to identify and address underlining cultural or operational issues and prevent more people from leaving for the same reasons. 

Think Before You Counter-Offer

After you’ve had the chance to talk to your employee and find out what led them to resign, you can then think about a counter-offer. However, it’s important to note that a counter-offer is rarely in the best interests of the employee or your business unless it truly addresses the root cause of why someone decided to quit. If your employee accepted a counter-offer that did not address such issues, they may find themselves unhappy several weeks later and back in the market for a new job.

If your employee declines your counter-offer, avoid resorting to desperate measures. Instead, use the remaining time to leave a lasting impression by focusing on supporting your employee through the transition.

Let Everyone Say Goodbye

Whether it’s a leaving party or a meal, be sure to provide your team with the time to appropriately say goodbye. This can be a simple and easy way to ensure your departing employee leaves your business on a high note and shows your remaining team that you care. On the other hand, you should make sure you’re consistent in the way you say goodbye to former employees or you may risk sending the message of favouritism.

Final Thoughts

Letting a valuable employee go can be a tough experience for any Manager, but the way you react to someone’s resignation can have a lasting impression on their opinion of you and your business and alter its ability to attract and retain excellent people.

If you’re looking to replace a departing employee with a great Accounting, Finance or Business Support professional then get in touch. Otherwise, check our blog for more recruitment advice.