Handle with care: Value employee exits
A resignation on their desk is every manager’s worst fear. When the employee decides to part ways and move on, it is difficult and emotional for both the employee and the employer. After all we spend most of our waking hours in the office and with our colleagues, making long lasting associations. While retention is the key focus for the organization at that time, it is also important that the exiting employee goes out with a good image of the employer. Organizations have begun to recognize this and there is a lot of focus on creating great experiences through seamless exit formalities. However, are great experiences just about smooth transactions and nice farewell speeches or is there more that matters? What role can managers play in this? Let’s take a look at some phases post resignation and how little nuances make a difference:
Making the most of the notice period
At times, organizations want to have longer notice periods in their terms of employment under the garb of criticality, lack of ability of backfill and longer transition period. The truth is that no matter how much we may increase the notice period, the actual transition of responsibilities only happens in the last few days. Most of the remaining time is either spent in coming to terms with the resignation with no communication to anyone or letting the employee continue doing the job as is while the employer searches for a backfill. This only creates anxiety both for the parting employee during the notice period as well as the rest of the team who have to take a handover in a very short span later. Unless it is a negotiation and the employee is willing to stay back for something in return, most ‘save’ conversations are intended to strike an emotional chord with the employee and are effective only in the first week after the resignation. If the employee’s decision is firm, managers should try to communicate it to those impacted as soon as possible to help them make the most of the notice period.
Saying “we are just a call away”
As clichéd as they may sound, telling a valued employee that “we want you back” ,“we are just a call away” or “if you need any help just reach out” means a lot when they are moving out. These words are as significant if not more than saying “all the best for the future”. Remember the employee is at that time losing their sense of belonging and is also anxious about the new place. It is amazing how these few last words remain in their memory. They would be more than happy to help the organization also in return if they were called upon later. This is more important than having discussions on how many transition documents they have made for we all know that no matter how much we document, there will always be some more context lost.
Making the goodbyes personalized
A lunch or dinner with a group that closely works with the parting employee is a warmer experience than doing a mass gathering with flowers and cakes. The mass farewell originated in the days when employees remained with the same employer for their entire career and the farewell was actually a celebration of their retirement. They were known to practically everyone in the office through the years they had spent there. In the present times, on their last day, individuals are typically emotional and would not want to go through the embarrassment of exposing their emotions to a large audience. It also gets awkward when in a big gathering only few people speak out. Some may want to speak but are shy of the crowd and others may actually not know the employee well enough to say something. It would be better for the manager to let the larger group know of the employee’s decision through an email with a sincere note on the employee’s contributions a few days in advance of the exit date. Most people prefer to write back to the parting employee sharing their feelings which creates a more personalised experience.
Keeping in touch post exit
Managers who value key talent should make efforts to keep in touch with them. This is not just the responsibility of the recruitment team. In a lot of cases, employees start looking at their ex-managers as mentors only after leaving that company as they do not see a conflict of interest any more. Most of the rehiring happens as a result of a great connection between the manager and employee than the employee re-applying through the recruitment routes. Other than that ex-employees are also more than happy to refer people or help out in other ways based on personal relationships they have built with their managers.
Just like a new hire is to be held with kids’ gloves, the exiting employees, especially high performers also need to be handled with care. So while employees are trying not to burn their existing bridges with their employers in their last few days, organizations can focus on building new bridges with them in that phase. After all, emotions and experiences play a key role in the war for talent.