5 Steps to Take When an Employee Resigns
You don’t usually hire someone and plan for their resignation. But employees resign from their jobs every day. It’s a natural step in the growth of a company and the trajectory of all workers’ careers.
Most resignations don’t come due to sudden, dramatic conflict. They’re bittersweet partings in which the employee, having learned a great deal at the company, makes a brave choice to venture into the uncharted seas of new opportunities.
Employee resignations also mean you gain an opportunity to bring in fresh perspectives with new employees. In other words, you needn’t view employee resignations with fear or resentment.
Instead, be prepared with these five easy steps. From developing transition plans, conducting an exit interview, and incorporating the departing employee into new employee training, you can ensure a smooth transition in the wake of a stellar employee’s departure.
1. Develop Preemptive Transition Plans
A 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the employee turnover rate within six months of hire is a staggering 57%. That number drops to 25% when you look just at voluntary turnover, but the takeaway is the same: You need to have turnover and transition action plans in place even as you’re hiring.
Don’t wait for that employee of three weeks, let alone three years, to quit on you without extending you the courtesy of a two weeks notice. Instead, institute an official turnover policy.
This policy should outline when and how to submit a two-week notice and your expectations for the exit interview and replacement training.
You can’t hold everyone to those expectations, but setting them will increase the amount of exiting employees who leave on good terms. Each resignation will be different, and that requires specific transition plans. But having a template in place will help you avoid scrambling.
2. Request the Return of Essential Information
Employees gather lots of important information and materials while working at a company. Some of that information is sensitive, and you don’t want former employees carrying it back into the world.
Create a spreadsheet that tracks things to ask for at the time of an employee’s resignation. This list may include:
- Keys to doors and safes
- Passwords to computers and files
- Alarm system key codes
- Company credit cards
- Soft skills like software expertise or a client Rolodex (you can’t take these back from employees, but you can ask them to leave you detailed notes to fill the gap when they leave).
3. Conduct an Exit Interview
One of the leading causes of voluntary resignation is a culture of miscommunication in workplaces. One study found a 16% decrease in retention rates when employees don’t feel comfortable giving their superiors upward feedback.
The exit interview is a crucial place to begin practicing open and healthy communication.
Conducting a compassionate, thorough exit interview can benefit your company enormously. But it also leaves the exiting employee feeling good as they re-enter the workforce. Ending on a note of positive communication will increase the likelihood they’ll speak well about the company to others and even refer new candidates.
4. De-Brief Their Team
When an employee resigns from their position, it doesn’t just affect management. It affects the entire team.
If an employee resigns and no formal announcement comes from management, employees may speculate. Show that you have nothing to hide by showcasing the positive note on which you ended the employer-employee relationship.
Ironically, if employees know you’re a supportive employer through the resignation process, it will make them feel more supported in their working position and less inclined to resign themselves.
5. Recruit the Resigning Employee for Replacement Training
It’s good to always have an eye out for potential candidates to fill any given position of importance. The worst thing that can happen in the event of an unforeseen resignation is for a company to be left in the lurch with no one to pick up the slack.
Keep your ear to the ground, and consider working the exiting employee into hiring interviews and replacement training. No one knows the duties and workflow of their position like they did. Take advantage of that institutional knowledge when recruiting new employees.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Don’t let the fear of employee resignations rule you. They’re a natural part of doing business, and if you develop suitable transition plans, you’re going to land on your feet.
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