What to do when someone resigns

We’re now seeing resignations on a much larger scale; people are reassessing what is important to them and, if their employer is not meeting these needs, are voting with their feet

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Management Today

When Microsoft surveyed over 30,000 global workers, their findings revealed that 41% were considering quitting or changing professions this year.  Dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’, it’s become one of the biggest consequences of the pandemic. But fear not, employers; this can lead to tremendous opportunities in understanding your workforce, helping you to create life-long brand ambassadors and maintain relationships with your future talent.

Listening to your employees

Resignations should never come as a surprise; we look to our people managers to have a real pulse on the engagement, needs and motivations of their teams. They should be the first to identify any flight risks among key talent and be able to have these difficult conversations with them – not just about how they might help them to stay, but also about creating a positive leaving experience for them. 

Exit interviews tend to be tick-box exercises and can sometimes feel very disengaging for the employee; however, done well, they can provide a real opportunity to create a brand ambassador for your company. Creating the right exit experience requires an understanding of your culture and organisational strategy, and listening with purpose to the individual. This way, the exit interview will help pinpoint the areas your organisation can improve on.

This should be supported by strong analytics to enable organisations to delve into the root causes of talent leaving, identifying key themes and areas of improvement in order to focus future employee listening sessions on what is really important.

Thank them for their contribution

Leaving an organisation is a big moment in someone’s life. A budget should be allocated to managers for a celebration aligned to your brand and culture. When Apple store employees leave the team gathers to applaud and cheer them – reinforcing Apple’s social and relationship-centred culture. Meanwhile, at Hubspot, employees are treated to a ‘graduation party’, recognising the contribution and value they have delivered.

It is also important to put the individual at the centre of your approach in a way that makes the employee feel appreciated but, more importantly, recognised. Don’t arrange big leaving drinks for an employee who is introverted; instead you could allocate a budget for a ‘leaving bonus’ – giving individuals a private celebration of their achievements. 

Ultimately, this helps organisations to engage with employees in a personalised way right up to the end of their tenure and is more likely to result in a long-term connection forming once they leave the organisation.

Leave them feeling good

With platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn giving past employees the opportunity to rate and review an organisation, creating an exceptional leaving experience has never been more important – especially when research shows that 70% of candidates will research company reviews before they make career decisions. Organisations which have invested in their employee experience are seeing the benefits of this, with companies like O2 even promoting their employee reviews to prospective employees. 

Also, as 15% of new hires come from alumni rehires and referrals, firms could continue social interaction with departing employees. Management consultancies have recognised the power of the brand ambassador for years – for example, Deloitte invites all leavers into their alumni programme through which they receive the latest company updates and are invited to events and roundtable discussions. 

By sustaining a positive relationship former staff can sometimes find themselves returning to the organisation and this is massively beneficial; they already understand company culture, processes and expectations and this type of recruitment doesn’t have to become a sales pitch. When people proactively want to come back to your firm, that’s great for reputation; positive word of mouth is invaluable.

In short, staff leaving isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Investing in the whole end-to-end employee journey results in valuable opportunities to understand why your employees want to leave, to celebrate their contribution to your organisation and to mould them into brand ambassadors who can point others in your direction, or return themselves. 

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