August 23, 2016

8 tips on handling resignation of your best employee

There is nothing more galling than your best employee handing in their notice while the less good ones show no signs of going anywhere.

But it happens. In fact, often the reasons why the employee is your brightest star – because they are ambitious, keen to experience new challenges and visibly good at their job, for example – are the very reasons why they are going to pastures new.

It is important that HR knows how to handle resignations well, particularly when it concerns resignations that you really wish weren’t happening. It is also important that HR helps other managers know how to handle such situations well.

Here are our top tips on what to do when an employee you really don’t want to lose hands in their notice.

1. Have a good, honest conversation. Find out why they are leaving. Is it because they have been offered a great job somewhere else? Because they feel their career has stalled at your organisation? Is it because they want to reduce their hours? It’s important to have these conversations to find out if there is something you an do to induce them to stay. If they are that good and it’s a work-life balance issue, you may want to reduce their hours, for example. It is also important to know if their resignation is caused by an internal issue because then HR needs to be involved in addressing that internal issue, whether the employee stays or goes.
2. Ask them if anything would change their minds. There may be a career-stretching opportunity somewhere in the organisation that you know about and they don’t. But if they really want to go, then:
3. Accept their resignation gracefully and professionally. Don’t take it personally. Even if the person is your direct hire and you have invested a lot in them and their career development, remember that they are entitled to leave. Tell them that you are really sorry to see them go and that they are a very valued member of the team. Acknowledge their successes and thank them for their contribution.
4. Pick their brains. Ask them to put together a handover, including useful contacts and insights about how their role is best done. Don’t let valuable information go to waste.
5. Leave the door open. Make it clear to the person that you would be very pleased if they decided to work for your organisation again in the future. It is not uncommon for people to return to the same company and the same department, sometimes even within the same year.
6. Keep in touch. If they were that good, then maintain an appropriate amount of contact just so that you stay on their radar. Also, if the relationship between you, them and the company has been a good one, they may make referrals to you.
7. Give them a good send off. Just as it is good to welcome new hires on board properly and make them feel welcome, it is important to give departing employees a good send off. It shows them and others that you care and that you wish them well. That send off can be anything – lunch out, an evening out for the team, or flowers are all popular choices.
8. Don’t despair. Your new recruit may be even better!