Exiting an Employee – What Do You Need to Do?


One of your employees has just handed in their notice – right at the worst possible time for your business. What should you do?

When an employee gets to the point of handing in their notice, they have already psychologically left your business. Avoid asking “What would it take to make you stay”, or offering to give them a raise if they stay.

It is never just about the money when someone looks for alternate work. Unless all of the underpinning issues that triggered the person to leave are addressed, even if the person remains with you, you will only have them for a short time longer before they resign again.

As hard as it is, you need to let them go with dignity and grace.

When someone hands you their notice, start by genuinely thanking them for their work and effort in your business, before wishing them every success in their new role.

Be supportive and professional. Why? People form friendships in the workplace. The details of how you respond will be shared amongst your team. If you are angry and abusive, then the rest of the team’s performance and morale will suffer (and you are likely to lose more of the team as a result).

We are also seeing an increased trend in boomerang employees – employees who leave and then return after a time with another business. By keeping your relationship professional, you leave the door open for star performers to return with even greater skills than before.

Things to do when someone resigns:

Payroll: Start by talking with your Payroll team so they can calculate final pays, finalise expense claims and check details for forwarding end of year statements.

IT: Notify the IT team so they can plan for mail redirects, and de-activation of passwords.

Assets: Put together a detailed list of any company assets that the person may have allocated to them such as company cars, phones, laptops/tablets, uniforms, name badges, keys, security codes, company credit cards, supplier/client contact lists, and business cards. Discuss with the employee how these will be handed back to the business.

Resourcing: Consider the staffing implications both short and longer term. Someone leaving gives you the opportunity to reconsider roles and responsibilities for the broader team.

Should roles within the team be adjusted? Can someone be promoted into the role? Could you hire a temp for a few weeks to give you breathing space for more detailed consideration of your staffing structure, and to undertake a thorough recruitment process?

Handover: Arrange a number of detailed meetings with the person who is leaving, in order to get a thorough briefing of all their projects, cases, files etc. This could be directly with you, or it could be with the person taking over the role and their supervisor.

Exit Interview: Consider holding an exit interview with the person leaving to find out what they liked about your business, and areas that could be improved.

Client/Supplier Handover: If the employee worked closely with your clients or suppliers, consider how to arrange a seamless handover to the new person that will be handling client accounts. Ideally, have the employee that is leaving personally make the introductions to the client/supplier.  Staff turnover often can trigger client turnover unless managed carefully and seamlessly.

Team Management: When someone leaves a business, it raises questions in remaining employees’ minds about if the grass could be greener for them in another role. Your job is to steady the ship during transition and to create a positive vision for the future. Never speak ill of the person who has left – keep it positive and supportive.

Someone leaving means more than simply holding a morning tea and handing over a gift. The more actively you manage the transition, the smoother it will be for everyone.

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