5 Tips to Follow When an Employee Resigns

Yesterday, I wrote about 5 things to consider before resigning. I gave tips for employees to follow when they are putting in their notice and what they can expect when they tell their boss. Now I want to address some logical approaches companies should take when an employee resigns. Let’s face it, it’s the end of the year and some of your employees are tired and looking for a change. They know when that bonus pays out and they are just waiting to put in their notice. When that happens, how you react will play an important role in how others view you as a leader and view the company overall. The following are 5 tips to follow when an employee resigns.

1. Thank them

Regardless of the circumstances, genuinely thank the employee for their service. While you invested time and money into them, they invested a lot in your organization. They contributed to the bottom line and hopefully made your life a little easier. And congratulate them on landing a new job. Chances are, their role with your organization helped them land the new role.

2. Work on a communications plan with them

Your first reaction may not be the best reaction. You may have feelings of stress or betrayal from this person and you may want to lash out. First, breathe. Take a walk around the block. Then ask the employee how they’d like to communicate their resignation. Work with them, within your company’s protocol, to craft a message for multiple channels. Think about the message to internal stakeholders as well as external customers and clients.

3. Have them leave when they have completed their transition

Employees should give at least a 2-week notice. This is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended. As an organization, you are under no obligation to honor this 2-week period, unless there are certain contractual circumstances. Also, check with your trusty HR person to make sure you are following local laws and statutes. Work with the employee to figure out a reasonable transition time and then politely ask them to wrap up and enjoy some time before their next job starts.

The second they give notice, they are checked out. There’s a 94% chance that they have been checked out for a long time. Having them hang around for another few days is not productive for them or for you and your team. Whether you choose to pay out the 2 weeks is totally up to you and your organization.

4. Be thoughtful on the transition

When an employee resigns, managers hastily contact their recruiter, dust off the job description, and immediately post the position for the same exact role. Don’t. Take some time to breathe. See #1.

This is a good time to take inventory of your team and processes and see what is actually needed. Why did the employee leave? Were they dissatisfied with the work or certain processes? Don’t just dismiss their reasons because you’re bitter. Take this opportunity to reassess your team and what skills are needed. And look for a chance to promote and elevate others in the organization.

5. Celebrate the employee

Your employees are watching. How you off-board someone is just as important as how you on-board them. Put your ego aside and take a moment to honor the person for the work they’ve done. Take them to lunch or bring in some donuts or have your HR guy make whip up some pancakes for their last day. Whatever you do, send them off on a high note. How you off-board them could be the difference between a glowing or not-so-favorable Glassdoor review.

Employees will come and go through your organization. They want to grow and develop just as much as you do and there are times when they’ve peaked at your company. Ideally, you’ve built a trusting relationship and you saw this coming because you know the priorities and goals of each of your team members. When an employee does resign, take some time to honor them.


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