How to Handle a Good Employee Leaving

We recently had a really good employee leave us for a better opportunity. I think most businesses botch almost all aspects of an employee leaving, to the detriment of the employee, other employees, and the company in general. This was our first opportunity to show that isn’t the case with us, and I think overall we did a pretty good job.

It seems like the last few weeks of a job often suck for the employee leaving. Their boss and co-workers resent the person for leaving (often due to jealousy). Sometimes their boss will overwhelm them with work, sort of a punishment, but also as an expression of their frustration for having to pick up the slack for a while. This is unfair and counterproductive (and a little immature and petty, in my opinion).

Assuming the employee is in good standing and they’re moving on to a better opportunity (as was the case with us), it can absolutely be a positive experience for everyone involved. This is something that my partners and I all felt very strongly about. Here’s some of the things we believe in doing:

  • Start by congratulating them! It’s a big deal for them.
  • Realize it’s not personal – everyone is trying to do what’s best for themselves and their families.
  • Get them the necessary info for transitioning out of health insurance, retirement, etc as fast as possible. Be exceptionally responsive when they have questions or need assistance.
  • Realize that you probably played a role in them getting that new job! You improved their skills and likely gave them something good to talk about in an interview.
  • Offer to be a reference in the future.
  • Do an exit interview and learn as much as you can.
  • Make sure to thank them for their hard work.
  • Keep the door open to working together in the future.

While this can be a lot of work, and no one wants to see a good employee leave, it behooves everyone involved to keep a positive attitude. If you handle this well you earn a lot of cred with your current employees. They see your true colors, how you treat people when you have nothing to gain from them, and it 100% will inform how they perceive you as an employer.