Employee success is a major topic of discussion in today’s professional work culture. It has been found that employee success relates to a variety of other important business metrics, like employee engagement, daily productivity rates, role ownership, and continual improvement. By providing employees pathways for success within your organization, you will also naturally obtain a higher rate of employee retention.
However, no organization is perfect, and not every opportunity is a life-long one. As such, it is inevitable that even good employees may come to a point in their career where better opportunities lie elsewhere. As a business owner, manager, or leader, you can’t take this personally, especially if you’ve worked to prioritize employee success within your organization, and have offered the individual available advancement opportunities as they came about.
Regardless, you can still be an employee advocate even to someone who is parting ways with your business or organization. Leaving things off on a good note with parting employees can come back to pay dividends in the future.
“There isn’t just one right way to respond when someone quits their job. In many ways, what you should say will vary based on the specifics of the situation and your company’s policies and procedures. No matter what, it’s important to respond in a civil and professional manner.”
– Mary Gormandy White, HR & Communications Specialist –
Provide Positive Referrals
One of the best ways you can support an employee departing your business while also remaining an active advocate for that individual is to provide a positive referral. A positive referral from a prior employer can go a long way in the eyes of future employers or clients.
If your employee is leaving on their own accord, it’s likely that you’ll have plenty of good things to say about them anyway. Writing some of these comments down about how they are to work with and what made them so valuable to your team can help pave their way to future success.
Even if the person is making a career pivot or going into business for themselves, having your endorsement as their prior employer or boss will give them a sort of seal of approval regarding their capabilities and healthy work habits. Individuals who venture out on their own without any form of previous employer referral will typically find it much more difficult to garner the interest of potential employers or future clients.
“Most hiring managers ask for referrals nowadays. That old saying, ‘it’s about who you know, not what you know,’ still holds quite a bit of truth. Having a previous employer vouch for you is huge.”
– Ann McFerran, CEO, Glamnetic –
If you truly want to see employees find success even after parting ways with your company, you should make referral-writing a routine habit among all leaders in the organization. This will help ensure that it’s a culture practice, in turn, helping all exiting employees find future success in their endeavors.
“Written communication is a skill to prioritize in any organization. Who wouldn’t want to hear about a past employee finding success and fulfillment in their own right? A powerful referral process helps at least a little in that regard.”
– Bryan Jones, CEO, Truckbase –
Keep in Touch Beyond “Goodbye”
As busy working professionals in the modern era, it can be relatively easy to lose sight and fall out of touch with someone the moment they’ve stopped being a typical presence in your daily atmosphere. At the same time, we live in an era that is hyper-connected through various social media networks and smart technologies, which are designed to help us stay in touch with one another.
By taking the time to stay in touch with employees even after they’ve departed from your organization, you will be able to remain a supportive presence in their personal and professional life.
“You never realize how beneficial it can be to stay in touch with past employees until you do. It can make a huge difference in the number of opportunities that come your way, simply because you nurture a network of past-employees.”
– Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager, Patriot Coolers –
Staying in touch with employees beyond the date and time of their actual departure is also a good way for you to bolster your own reputation as a boss and employer. This can happen in a multitude of ways, but by being supportive of employees after they leave and staying in touch, you will almost guarantee you’re remembered and referred to as one of their greatest mentors and employers.
“If an employee leaves and you’re unkind about it, when they turn around and make it elsewhere, they likely won’t paint you in a good light if they’re asked about their past experience. Why be remembered in a negative way when you can simply act graciously upon someone leaving?”
– Bradley Hall, CEO, SONU Sleep –
Send Them Away With Something
A great way to truly stand out in the eyes and hearts of your employees after they depart is to send them away with something meaningful. This could be something to represent their time with you and your organization, or it could commemorate and celebrate them and their career accomplishments thus far.
“It can be an easy, kind gesture to extend to exiting employees. There’s no harm in leaving them with something that commemorates their time with you that they can look back on with fond memories. It could be something simple like a gift card or more personal like a piece of art.”
– Susan K. Shaffer, President, Pneuma Nitric Oxide –
Giving an employee a parting gift is a symbolic gesture that allows them the freedom to move on in their career without harboring any guilt or feeling like they’ve put you in a difficult position. Additionally, a thoughtful and well-chosen gift from an employer can be a special piece of memorabilia that reminds an individual of where they started.
“You could even go so far as to ask them what they like, what they do on the weekends, or what their favorite restaurant is before getting them a gift. The more personalized you make it, the more likely it is they’ll resonate with it and appreciate the time they spent with you.”
– Max Ade, CEO, Pickleheads –
Remind Them They’re Welcome Back
Good talent is hard to come back these days, so even while you’re keeping your composure and handling the employee exit with grace and gratitude; don’t be afraid to let your leaving employees know that they’re welcome back in the future. This is another good way to offer them support without being pushy or trying to hinder their pursuit of individual success.
“Offering someone the chance to come back if they need to is just a good way to say ‘I’ve got your back, and you’re appreciated here.’ They may not ever take you up on it, but it’s still nice to have that type of support system.”
– Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing North America, Optimeal –
Additionally, letting employees know that they’re welcome back after a departure is a good way for you to leave things on a cordial note, rather than a hostile one.
“No one wants an employee exit to be any more awkward or difficult than it already is; this is the case on both sides. Leaders, bosses, and managers have the power to make these transitions more smooth and supportive. There’s no reason to become hostile or get angry with someone for pursuing their own definition of success.”
– Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy, MPOWER Financing –
Refrain From Overloading Them Before They Depart
One of the last things you want to do to an employee who just announced they’re leaving is to overwhelm them with additional work or responsibilities. Rather, you should focus on productively transitioning them and their responsibilities to other workers and employees so that you aren’t left with a gap after the employees final day.
“A transition plan is vital when an employee is leaving a company. If you have the luxury of a few weeks before their last day, you can utilize them in training and delegating and ensure that everyone on the team experiences a smooth transition.”
– Mary Kay Bitton, Head of Product Innovation, FLO Vitamins –
Not only does a transition plan help everyone feel like the exit goes a lot smoother, but it will keep the exiting employee engaged throughout the rest of their time with your company. Overloading them with work, on the other hand, may accelerate their departure and leave you grasping for solutions.
“The worst thing you can do to an exiting employee is make them leave faster. The only people this truly hurts in the exchange is you, the team, and the company. The individual leaving was going to be gone in a couple of weeks either way.”
– Den Montero, Marketing Director, Moeflavor –
Wrapping up on Parting Ways With Good Employees
Good employees and hard workers are hard to come by. That said, every manager is going to have a good employee announce their departure at one time or another. Sending them off on a good note is a great way to maintain your company’s reputation and foster a strong working relationship with a wide network of professionals. You never know what opportunities might come back your way because you acted with grace.
“The stark reality of any business is that employees come and go. They resign for various reasons, from better job opportunities to moving because of family reasons, and sometimes the grass is just greener somewhere else. How your company handles this transition is the important part.”
– Cornelia de Villiers, Author, Kotive –