Jason Azocar April 12 5 min read

How to React When Your Employee Gives Their Notice

You don’t exactly get the “warm and fuzzies” when one of your team members decides to leave the company. It may feel like more of a slap in the face, a disappointment, a surprise, or a shock that you weren’t expecting. The knowledge that this situation is all too common doesn’t calm any of the lingering reverberations from the event. 

Nevertheless, this is a time for you to live up to your company culture and say farewell to your team member with grace and respect. It’s a learning experience for both of you on how to acknowledge one another’s goals and boundaries. Not to mention, this is an opportunity to sharpen your hiring contingency plan for future team member departures.

So chin up! Understand how you can meet your former employee with gratitude, and turn it into a positive and beneficial experience for your business.

Discover the Reason for the Notice

If they didn’t tell you already when they handed in their resignation, know that it is your right to ask why one of your own is leaving. This is someone who you and the rest of your team got to know and developed a professional working relationship with, so it’s understandable for you to inquire. Be prepared for their answer, and don’t attack them for their honesty. Their response may or may not pertain to their comfortability and satisfaction with their job role, or it could be something more personal.  

However, if their answer is directly related to an aspect of your business that caused them hardship, or was difficult to cope with, then this is where you need to take note. Maybe the workplace environment was too harsh, maybe there was no room for upward mobility, or maybe there was too much pressure and expectations from upper level management. Accept their opinion and apologize for any wrongdoing or inconveniences, and then do something about it. 

Make any Changes to your Business Practices 

If you truly care about the rest of your team, make sure they aren’t feeling the same way as your former employee. So if you need to work on unifying company culture, weeding out harassment, loosening the reins on deadlines and fierce expectations, then do so with the intention of bettering your company and the people that work for you. 

No business can perform perfectly in their financial success, operations, and team morale, but you can continue to improve from experiences like these. 

If this former employee gave you suggestions or pointed out flaws in the execution of business deals or work flow, then this is your moment to rewrite these procedures the way you see fit. 

Don’t discount the chance for a valuable learning lesson that comes from this experience as it is your chance to grow as a company. You have never reached a point of “perfection” because there is always something to be tweaked or adjusted.

Set the Tone for your Team

Now that this person is no longer a part of your company, it’s time to address the elephant in the room when you're with the rest of your team. Depending on legalities, the wishes of your former employee, or your right to privacy, you may not wish to disclose why that person has left. Nevertheless, you need to notify your team that this person has departed, while showing gratitude and respect for their service. Assure everyone that you are still a work family, everyone is doing a good job in their role, and this is a chance to understand the ebbs and flows of the work environment. The goal is to instill and maintain unity within your team, and in doing so, you set a positive attitude for work going forward.

The bottom line is, handle employee resignations with care and discretion. Depending on the situation, these instances may pose a challenge for your business, but by adhering to your company culture, mission, and vision, you can emerge with a new perspective. Remember to thank this employee for all their hard work and service in helping create achievements for your company, and wish them luck on their future endeavors.