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Tips for Handling an Employee's Departure

An employee's resignation usually is seen as a single event rather than a process, but employers suffer if they don't manage the stream of changes carefully, say two management professors. Christy L. De Vader of Loyola College and Allan G. Bateson of Towson State University, both in the Baltimore area, make these recommendations in the professional publication SAM Advanced Management Journal:
Accept, expect, and plan for an employee's exit. Start when interviewing prospective and new employees. Acknowledge the possibility of their leaving the firm eventually, and let them know the firm has a policy to make it easier on all. Supervisors should not take resignations personally.



Treat the departing employee fairly. This will keep the employee motivated until his or her last day. Also, if other employees see you treating the employee unfairly, they may choose to give inadequate notice when they decide to leave. Make the departure timely. There are likely to be a number of constraints on timing. The employee may consider the timing's effects on his or her company benefits. All the same, the employer won't want staff morale lowered by a poorly performing lame duck. Compromise is necessary. And let the person resigning know he or she is needed until the end. Keep your remaining staff in mind. Inform other employees of the departure as soon as you can, and watch for "changes in cohesiveness, group norms, and communication patterns." Lend support where you must.

Ask for a "to-do" list. Have the resigning employee list all of his or her job functions—past and current. In addition, have the worker write all of his or her contacts in the community, the profession, and with clientele to let them know of the departure. Ask for an index and passwords to paper and computer files, as well as details on schedules and deadlines. At the end, before thanking the employee for his or her contributions, review with the departing employee your policy on providing reference information on former employees, and notify your firm's mail handlers of that employee's new address.

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