Handling Employee Resignations the Right Way

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2021 has been marked by what is known as The Great Resignation. More employees than ever before are leaving their jobs to pursue other opportunities. So the odds are good that you are probably facing at least a few resignations. The situation can feel awkward for everyone, but it’s up to you to handle employee resignations in a legal, ethical, and professional way.

Get It in Writing

Most employees will first tell you verbally that they plan to resign. You’ll need to ask them to write a formal letter of resignation, including their final work date, and submit it to HR. This covers you legally against future accusations or unemployment claims.

Resist the urge to make a counteroffer, no matter how valuable the employee. That person has already moved on, and trying to convince them to stay will only result in awkwardness.

Help Them Transition

You may be frustrated or even angry about losing a good employee. But it’s important not to let it show. While carefully following your company’s written procedures and any instructions from HR, help the employee make a smooth transition. They’ll need to wrap up any outstanding work, let others know of their plans, and give you the details of any projects that won’t be completed by their final day. Assign someone else to take over those responsibilities, and facilitate conversations between the employee who is leaving and the person who is taking over their projects.

On the last day, don’t forget to collect keys and other materials from the departing employee. Ideally, you will have a written checkout procedure to ensure that nothing is missed. This is where you don’t want to burn bridges, be professional, take the “high road” and make the most out of employee resignations.

Notify Team Members and Customers

Talk to the departing employee about how to handle letting coworkers and customers know about the departure. Some workers prefer to send out notifications themselves, while others would rather the company handle it. If you allow the employee to manage this task, set a clear expectation that they will do it within a day or two, and follow up to make sure. Everyone else in the office needs to know as soon as possible what to expect.

Follow Up With the Team

Employee resignations affect everyone. After the employee leaves, your team will likely have numerous questions. Don’t gossip or reveal anything that your former worker asked you to keep confidential. Instead, focus on the future. What does the resignation mean for the rest of the team? Will they need to work longer hours or take on additional duties? Are you planning to hire a replacement right away? Let team members know how the change will personally impact them.

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