Before changes in economic policy in the 1980’s it used to be incredibly common for employees to spend pretty much their entire career with one company. But in the 1980s there was a shift to businesses letting employees go to increase profits, predominantly driven by the need to provide greater shareholder value. This in turn led to significant erosion of the loyalty employees give to their employers. After all, if their organisation won’t think twice about shutting down their division to bump the share price by a couple of percentage points, why would they be loyal to the company?
This has meant that resignations are now to be expected, and if a business can get 3-4 years out of an employee this can be considered a good length of tenure. But this means that the resignation process is now a critical part of employee experience. There are businesses that do this well and businesses that do not. But how an employee leaves an organisation usually shapes how they feel about the organisation and what they perceive their experience to have been. It is important this experience is positive as it is shown former employees are more likely to recommend the business and services of their former employer if they had a good experience while working there. So how do you ensure a positive experience when an employee resigns?
Ok let’s start with a simple principle, if an employee is leaving your organisation, the first thing to do is congratulate them on receiving a great opportunity. No one likes to lose a high performer, or even a solid performer for that matter, but if they are leaving, it is highly likely it is because they have received something better that your firm cannot or have not offered them, so congratulate them. Put ego and selfishness to one side, sure it may hurt your team or organisation, but there is no reason to take it out on the employee who has received a better offer. Professionalism is a two-way street; you cannot expect it from employees and not give it to them in return.
There are literally millions of resignation horror stories due to employers behaving awfully when an employee hands in their resignation. These stories relate to all types of individuals. It could be the hiring manager gives an awful reference to try and sabotage their move elsewhere. There are countless stories of HR bending policy rules to ensure an employee does not get paid all that they are entitled to. Even CEOs who have fired employees just so they can say the employee did not resign. This is not how you run a professional business and not only does it create an awful experience for the leaver, other employees see this and then think they need to also leave quickly as their company is run by terrible human beings.
Instead everyone should bend over backwards to make the process as simple as possible and ensure everything is as transparent as possible. For example, most employees make the mistake of forgetting pay and benefits are pro-rata, so if someone has 24 days annual leave, and they leave at the end of June, they only actually get 12 days annual leave. So, if they took 13 days of holiday at the start of the year, they are actually going to be docked one day’s pay when they receive their final pay cheque. It is incredibly important to ensure that all of this is clearly communicated so that an employee and their colleagues see that the company manages everything in the correct way. In fact, paying the extra annual leave even though not technically the policy, would be a great thing to do.
Communicate to the team
Finally, its incredibly important to communicate the resignation to the team as soon as possible. People resign, this is a fact of life. But far too many organisations act like a resignation should be top secret and treated as such. This is ridiculous and often makes the employee very uncomfortable. They have to keep a secret and lie to colleagues until they leave. By being open about the person resigning, and congratulating them publicly on the new role, you remove any stigma or distrust. The employee is going to be more relaxed and the team members will also see this as a positive. It also ensures there is a better handover of information, as everyone is aware the person will be leaving and has time to ensure a smooth handover.