How to Handle an Employee Departure the Smart Way

employee departure

25% of employees are considering quitting their jobs in 2022. Even if you’re the best employer, it’s possible that at least one of your employees is ready to seek a change. You’ll need to learn how to handle an employee departure.

It’s not going to be easy. If you don’t handle it correctly, you can ruin your reputation as an employer and build bad blood between yourself and your current employees.

We’re here with a few tips for what to do and what not to do when an employee is ready to leave. Read on to learn more.

What Not to Do

Before we talk about what to do when an employee announces that they’re no longer going to be working with you, it’s helpful to know what you shouldn’t do. Even the smallest missteps in how you handle the initial conversation with them can ruin your reputation and your relationship with the employee (and the rest of your staff).

Here’s what not to do.

Be Overly Enthusiastic

You’re going to want to congratulate your employee, or at least show support, but overdoing it comes off as disingenuous. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a small party, but don’t jump right into making big going-away plans.

You should also resist the urge to announce your excitement to other employees. Your other employees know that one person’s departure is going to lead to potential problems for the rest of them. They want to see that you have plans for moving forward.

Be Passive Aggressive

Employees know if someone is displaying passive aggression toward them. If you think you’re hiding it well, you likely aren’t.

You might want to start self-deprecating by talking about how it makes sense that they’d want to leave because of how hard the work is. This also tells them that you think that they’re incapable of doing the work.

This is manipulative behavior, and your other employees will notice.

Trash Talk the Employee

When the employee finally departs, don’t use your employee departure announcement to trash them to everyone else. Remember that there are infinite reasons that someone may quit. Your workplace isn’t their responsibility.

This is super unprofessional behavior, and it will tell your other employees that you’re willing to do the same to them. Your reputation as an employer will plummet.

What to Do

So what should you do when an employee decides to depart if you want to preserve your reputation and positive work culture? It’s all about being tactful and planning! Here’s a brief employee departure checklist.

Offer Congratulations and Support

You should always show support to your employee who’s decided to leave. Remember, an employee giving you time to find a new employee by announcing their departure ahead of time is doing you a favor. They are not required to do that.

Congratulate them on their next venture, regardless of what it is. Whether it’s a competing company, a new home far away, or starting a family, let them know that you support their decision even if it conveniences you.

Offer to be a reference for your employee if they’re seeking new employment elsewhere. Many employers feel too bitter to do this, but it’s in everyone’s best interest.

Discuss Next Steps

Talk with your employee about what you need to do next. Your employee isn’t obligated to stick around while you find someone new or to train the new person, but if you’re tactful, they can help.

Ask them for what you need from them but be willing to work within their restrictions. They may have to start their new position before you’re finished with the transition, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be willing to help in the meantime.

Have an Exit Interview

Exit interviews aren’t necessary, but they can be helpful for your business.

Ask your employee about their experience at your workplace. Ask for feedback, even if it won’t help them personally. You can even ask if there were any specific events or problems that triggered their departure.

The exit interview shouldn’t be too dissimilar from a standard interview or even an employee review, but it’s more like the employee is reviewing you instead of vice versa.

Helpful employee communication software can make these interactions easier. Look here for more information.

Discuss With Other Employees

You will, at some point, have to announce an employee departure to the rest of your team. We recommend planning out what you’re going to say ahead of time, so you don’t stumble through the announcement or forget anything.

Explain what the transition process is going to look like for your other employees. Assure them that you have a plan and that they won’t have to make any extra contributions or pick up any slack in the meantime.

Try to keep the employee’s reasoning private unless they consent to you sharing it.

Offer a Kind “Goodbye”

Give your employee time to say goodbye if they want it. Setting aside time for a small going-away party is nice. Consider offering your employee a small parting gift, like a gift card.

This makes a huge difference in how your other employees will view you as a better and more compassionate employer.

Handle an Employee Departure the Right Way

Employee departures can be difficult for everyone involved. It’s tempting to overreact, panic, and even get aggressive with the departing employee. Remember that there are plenty of reasons that an employee may need to leave, and all of them are okay!

Use these tips to make the next employee departure easy.

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