How to Handle an Employee’s Resignation the Right Way 

How to handle employee resignationEmployee resignations are a regular occurrence in the workplace. In fact, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during his or her career. As an entrepreneur and a leader, it’s always wise to know and have a process in place to properly handle employee resignations. This helps reduce or prevent any negative impacts resignations might have to your business and to your professional relationships with your colleagues and past and current employees. To help you out, we’ve come up with several key pieces of advice on dealing with employee resignations the right way.

Consider the Emotional Impact of Resignations 

Resignations can be emotional and hard on all parties. However, it’s important to never take it personally. Getting angry or feeling guilty will only make the situation worse. Some employees become very emotional and, as we all know, unchecked emotions can trigger conflict. If it happens in the case of a resigning employee, the effect could be anything from a professional misunderstanding to low morale in the workplace since the other employees will most likely be curious about how the situation was handled. You also risk burning bridges if you let your emotions take over, which is something you don’t want especially if the resigning employee did his or her tasks really well.

Dealing with employee turnover is part of being in business. Sometimes, even your best employees will leave, and many times it has nothing to do with you. If it’s time for them to move on and there’s nothing wrong with their reasons or intentions, be supportive and keep communication open. This could lead to future opportunities to work with that former employee in another situation that’s beneficial for your business. For example, he or she could get a new job at an organisation that either currently is or could be a potential customer.

Counter-offers Don’t Always Fix the Issue 

Managers sometimes give counter-offers to convince employees to not leave the company. However, take note that counter-offers may not fix the issue. Most of the time, they just offer an increase in salary or added benefits not found in the original employee contract. If an employee’s main issue is the compensation package and your business has the capacity to offer a bit more as justified by his or her performance, then don’t wait for them to resign before offering an increase in salary.

However, if the issue is not about the salary or benefits, a counter-offer won’t be the remedy. Sure, the employee might stay for a bit longer but, ultimately, you’ll just be masking the issue and he or she will still resign, probably more disappointed if you weren’t able to address the real issue. Be careful also of how you present a counter-offer; it won’t sit well with your employees if you always look at things from a monetary perspective and without recognising their true value beyond money.

Encourage the Four-week Notice 

Ask a resigning employee to work with the standard four-week notice. Some businesses immediately dismiss someone after a resignation request, which shouldn’t be the case. When that employee leaves, he or she does so with all their knowledge. Including a four-week notice or adjustment period allows for a smoother transition and helps ensure pending tasks are taken cared of (or at least delegated the right way).

The resigning employee may play a critical role in your business’ operations. With a four-week notice, you’ll have the time to delegate duties, and that employee can spend time with co-employees who will be covering for him or her in the meantime, for an effective handover. You can also ask the resigning employee to assist you or the people and culture in fine tuning the job description for his or her replacement.

Think of Resignation as a Fresh Start

Be open to the opportunities a resignation can bring. The resigning employee may have been a model worker, but maybe he or she was lacking innovation or initiative. Often, when someone is in a position for a long time, complacency can become an issue. Bringing in a fresh perspective through hiring a new employee with a different but still effective take on doing the needed tasks could be advantageous in terms of evolving the vacated job position and your business as a whole.

Reflect on How You Can Improve and Reduce Turnover Costs 

Review how you interact with and manage others. Look at turnover rates for your business or department. How do they compare to industry averages? An Australian Human Resource Institute survey found that in 2015, the average staff turnover rate was 16-percent. This is a good baseline to start with.

Employee turnover can be expensive, thanks to direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include payouts due to the leaving employee and recruitment costs. Indirect costs can involve lost productivity and training. Depending on the position and the resources needed to maximise it, you could end up with a very expensive resignation that could really cost your business if it’s not filled soon or if it’s frequently being vacated. This is especially important for SMEs since they usually have smaller budgets and less resources to handle frequent resignations.

Research on ways to reduce this attrition by changing some of your approaches or policies to increase employee retention. These costs can also be minimised by having that employee work out his or her four-weeks’ notice so that the rest of your team is prepared to complete tasks or effect handover to the new employee. Take these situations as a means to learn as a businesswoman and to improve your business to become one which truly values workplace satisfaction.

Let Others Know Sooner Rather Than Later 

Once your employee submits his or her notice, you have to communicate that effectively to all those who will be impacted by the move. Be transparent in your communication. Call a quick meeting with all those who need to know and lay out a plan for transition. Be positive in sending off the employee. Handling things in this manner shows your confidence and professionalism, and other employees will appreciate this as well, knowing that you reacted and handled the situation in a constructive fashion.

Develop a Resignation Checklist 

It’s a great idea to have a resignation plan in place when employees leave. This could be a checklist of all the things that need to occur and the items you should have to ensure proper communication and transition. The checklist could include things such as returning company property, transitioning the current work load, handling benefits, and conducting an exit interview.

Established companies usually have this checklist supplied people and culture. For new businesses and SMEs, it’s important to have it to reduce disruption of daily operations which will result in losses—something that smaller companies should proactively avoid to ensure sustainability.

Being able to properly handle employee resignations is a characteristic of an effective leader. However, with the different attitudes and factors involved, it could prove tricky without proper guidance and experience. At Behind Closed Doors, we drive the professional development of women through networking, peer mentorship, and other tools and resources. As a leading network of businesswomen, we can guide you in your business and professional career and prepare you for any eventualities, paving a clearer path towards success.


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