The Resignation Process: What to Do When Employees Quit

With a record 4.3 million people resigning from their job in the first half of 2022, resignations are inevitable in every company, be it Amazon or Google.

Regardless of the job opportunity you provide, there comes a time when your employees desire to explore other areas and test their knowledge and skills.

While resignations might make you feel terrible because you have to start the entire hiring process again, remember that it’s natural for employees to resign and move on.

Being arrogant or rude or burning bridges with the employees who quit is useless. Rather focus on ending things on a positive note as it helps build strong relationships.

Therefore, planning and being prepared for when employees quit is essential. It ensures you don’t have to start from ground zero whenever an employee leaves the company.

During an employee’s resignation, ensure a smooth transition process that helps employees move into the next step of their careers.

The resignation process: What to do when employees quit

Focus on these aspects when employees quit your company:

  1. Ask for a resignation letter

First thing first, ask for a resignation letter.

When an employee quits, they must submit a resignation letter. The letter unequivocally states that employees intend to leave your company. You need a resignation letter on file so that employees can’t claim you fired or terminated them illegally.

While every employee can create their version of a resignation letter, it might defeat the purpose of communicating the intended message. This hampers the professional relationship, even if the employee likes and respects the company and its policies.

At the very basic, your employee’s resignation letter includes an employee’s intention to leave, why they quit the job, and when they intend to do so.

Many employees might want to air dirty laundry in their resignation letters out of frustration or unpleasant experience. While doing so is unprofessional, you can prevent it to some extent. 

Focus on providing different templates for letters of resignation for employees to use.

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This not only ensures professionalism but also ensures you have a standardized resignation letter format.

  1. Be gracious when dealing with outgoing employees.

Being positive and gracious is the best way to handle employee resignation. Apart from being nice to the current employees, notice how you treat outgoing employees.

How you treat your outgoing employees shows the existing employees how they might be treated if they cross the threshold and resign in the future.

If you mistreat outgoing employees, it leaves an impression that you handle such situations negatively.

This can affect and degrade the entire workplace mood.

Always remember that two negatives never make a positive. Matching a negative attitude with an aggressive or rude attitude will not make things good for existing or outgoing employees.

Being grateful to the existing employees and showing appreciation for their work is a great way to build long-term relationships with them.

Ultimately, the final goodbyes are the ones everyone remembers for a long-time. With employee retention being more challenging than pre-pandemic, being gracious to outgoing employees is essential.

  1. Plan for this day from the day employees get hired

When employees join a company, do they think they will stay forever? While it’s a dream for every employer, it’s an unlikely or unrealistic situation.

When you know something is going to happen, being prepared for it is essential. So, when the moment arrives, at least make the transition easy and less painful.

 Ensure the job offer letter includes information about an employee’s incentives, job responsibilities, details about what employees can and cannot do after they submit their resignation.

It’s better to be transparent with employees right from the first interaction, as it helps set realistic expectations.

  1. Work with managers to fill the position

Typically, when an employee resigns, it leads to disruption in the workflow. Communicate with outgoing employee managers to identify the impact the departure of employees might have on the team.

Do you need to replace employees immediately? Can you divide the work among existing employees? Can the team work effectively without replacing the outgoing employees? Should you plan on recruiting a new employee right away?

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During the resignation period, identify whether the outgoing employee needs to honor the notice period. If the employee’s presence hurts the team’s morale, you might recommend an earlier departure date.

During the employee’s remaining tenure, ensure to set up a meeting for knowledge transfer, document procedures, and teach other employees how to complete specific tasks.

  1. Negotiate with employees

If an employee is worth going that extra mile to retain, you need to understand what it might take to keep them.

When employees are unhappy because of low perks and compensations, offering promotions and hikes might help keep them.

Many employers try to match the compensation offered by the new company to the employee. This might encourage an employee to rethink their decision.

However, if the employee resigns for some other reason, supporting their decisions might be beneficial.

  1. Conduct an exit interview

Conducting an exit interview after an employee quits their job gives you valuable insights about their reason for leaving the job. For instance, if the outgoing employee leaves work because of a toxic environment, they might express this.

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It can help you focus on improving the work culture and emphasize what motivates employees to work in the company. Employee resignation due to toxic work culture cost companies $223 billion over the past five years. 

During your exit interview, ask questions such as:

  • Briefly describe your overall experience with the company.
  • What are the reasons for leaving the company?
  • What did you like and dislike about your job?
  • How was your relationship with your manager?
  • Were your goals and expectations met?
  • Did you enjoy working in the company?
  • Ask them to provide help during the training.

When an employee leaves a company, it might create a rippling effect, especially if the senior employee resigns.

Ensure their duties and responsibilities get covered by a different employee at the earliest. This makes sure there is no disruption in your workplace.

Never consider resignation to burn the bridges between you and the employee. Instead, use this opportunity to ensure a seamless transition in their career.

Showing support lifts the mood of other employees who know you are likely to provide support, even when they make such decisions.

  1. Create an employee resignation checklist

If you don’t follow a standardized resignation process, start with responsibilities for everyone involved in the resignation and transition process.

Ensure to include the responsibilities of the outgoing employee, the employee’s manager, IT professionals, and anyone else who might be involved.

Focus on creating an employee resignation checklist to outline what you need to do. A checklist ensures you create a detailed workflow for all parties involved. For instance, the checklist can include:

Tasks for employees

  • submit the resignation letter
  • finish the existing projects
  • help in knowledge transfer to other team members
  • remove their items like laptops, ID cards, and other items

Tasks for employee’s manager

  • inform the human resources (HR) manager is resigning
  • distribute the outgoing employee’s responsibility to other employees
  • make plans to complete the transition process

Tasks for HR professionals

  • work with managers to know if the employee should be replaced
  • schedule and complete the exit interview

Tasks for IT professionals

  • collect company-owned assets such as laptops
  • disable passwords and delete accounts
  • prepare the company’s assets for the replacement employee

To ensure everyone involved in the resignation process knows their duties, create a visual flowchart. These charts ensure every step gets noticed and the resignation process occurs as smoothly as possible.

Let the resignation process happen seamlessly

Every business, at some point in time, faces employee resignation. To ensure an employee’s resignation does not cause significant damage to the functioning of the team, having a comprehensive plan is a must.

Having a plan ensures that you and the employee separate on good terms.

Wish them well for their future and encourage them to keep in touch.

There’s no point spoiling the relationship with employees, as you never know when you’ll likely cross paths again.

While losing an employee who has been an integral part of your company is challenging, you have to face it eventually.

Being prepared helps you deal with every circumstance. Encourage team members to create a heartfelt card and farewell cake, which might help ease the process.

Resignations are bound to happen. The way you deal with them depends on how smooth the entire process might be.

Author’s bio (if needed):

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Priya Jain has been copywriting professionally for over eight years. She has attained an engineering degree and an MBA. She teaches math, spends her time running behind her toddler, and tries new recipes while she isn’t writing. You can find her on LinkedIn.



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