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Every employer loses team members, but despite the inevitability of this situation, it can still be a stressful time. All the usual thoughts will run through your head:

  • How could they leave at such a critical time?
  • They seemed to be so happy
  • Will they stay if I offer them more money?

Once you’ve processed the news and accepted that there’s nothing you can do, damage limitation should become your priority. But so many companies make the situation worse by not handling their leavers in the right way.

So what should you do?

Give their team as much notice as possible

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is reducing the impact on the rest of the team. Your plan will depend on the size and the structure of the organisation, but it’s almost always beneficial to tell the leaver’s team as early as possible. Transparency is the key as there’s nothing worse than hearing a colleague or manager is leaving the company through the grapevine.

Sharing the news as early as possible will give everyone involved additional time to search for a replacement if necessary and consider how their responsibilities will be distributed in the interim. As a simple rule, the sooner you are able to prepare for their departure, the less stressful the process will be.

Take the time to understand why they are leaving

As a manager, there is nothing to gain by not respecting the leaver’s decision. Instead, you should take the time to understand why they are leaving as this may prevent further departures in the future. It could be something you can do nothing about, such as a relocation or a return to education, but equally, they may have been unhappy in their role. If they were, you need to know why. This could reveal a lot about the rest of the team.

Conduct an official exit interview

Carrying out an official exit interview with the leaver, their manager and another senior member of staff is extremely important. This can reveal much about how the staff are feeling and help to improve employee retention in the future. You need to find out:

  • Why they are leaving
  • Whether there’s a specific issue they are unhappy about
  • If they have a positive relationship with their manager and other team members
  • Whether there’s an issue with their salary
  • If there’s anything you can do to keep them (if you want to keep them)
  • Whether they would reconsider their decision if particular issues were resolved

Make sure they’re still part of the team

A leaver can still be a valuable part of the team. Accepting their resignation gracefully and professionally will help you keep the relationship on good terms. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for their assistance in preparing co-workers or a replacement to take over their job. This will set the company up for a smooth transition and is certainly preferable to an employee who sits around spreading negativity throughout the team.

Treat the leaver as you’d expect to be treated yourself

Most important is to ensure the leaver is respected throughout their notice period and made to feel part of the team until the last day. You should organise a leaving lunch or evening out if they have been with the company for a considerable time and make sure the emotion of the incident does not cause you to act in a way you will regret.

Of course, there are times when leavers are not respectful to their employers, and in that case, you should work closely with HR to resolve the situation in the right way.

How can we help?

At DB Charles Recruitment, as part of our aftercare service, we can put plans in place to help improve staff retention, offer professional mediation and conduct exit interviews on your behalf. For more information, please get in touch with our team.