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How do you help employees leave on a good note?

An employee is on the way out. How do you make this parting a productive one?

4 min read




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Q. What is the best way to make sure an employee who is on his or her way out leaves on a positive, productive note?

1. Give them several forums/channels to be heard

Let them know you’d value their thoughts on how the company could be doing better for those in similar roles, should they feel up for sharing honest feedback. Give them several opportunities to have these conversations before their last day so that the last few weeks you have with them are used to help improve your organization from an employee relations standpoint. Thank them for sharing. — Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

2. Let them take it easy the last few days

You may be tempted to keep their responsibilities tapped out so that you get your money’s worth, but it’s easier and happier for everyone involved if you let them have a little ‘senior fever’ the last days. They might have less to do anyway if you’re trying to teach someone their duties. It’s important that you use this period to try to have other people learning. — Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

3. Express gratitude and capture knowledge

When I say goodbye to a good team member, I feel sad to lose them, nervous about finding an equally good replacement, and excited for their next opportunity. (My business is to help people find great jobs, so I can’t help but celebrate a bit). I always say thank you and let them know that I will miss them. I also do my best to get their help documenting any methods that we haven’t noted already. — Alan Carniol, Interview Success Formula

4. Sit down with them

Just be normal. There’s no need to take it out on someone who’s leaving. Invite them for a friendly conversation on their decision to depart. You might learn something about yourself or the company that can lead in a positive direction. Always be willing to lend them a hand if they ask for you to be their reference or for a recommendation letter. — Volkan Okay Yazici, Stonexchange

5. Modify the workload

When a person informs you of their intent to leave the company, allow them to work normally for a week to finish up any remaining projects they are working on. For the employee’s last week, be conscious of the fact that the employee is leaving and structure their tasks so that it will ease the transition. This will keep the employee motivated in their last week and help their replacement. — Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc.

6. Show you still care

Barring extreme circumstances, I like to remove myself from the management role to take on a friendlier one. Asking questions like how I can help, who can I introduce you to, and what can I do to make the transition easier helps the employee understand that just because they’re leaving the company doesn’t mean I don’t care about their future success. — Hongwei Liu, mappedin

7. Keep lines of communication open

Make sure they know they can always come back and talk to you or consult with you on anything by keeping those lines of communication open. Offer your personal cell phone or email address and make sure they are on sites like LinkedIn so you can stay in contact and network. You never know when and if you might work together again on a project or through another company. — Andrew O’Connor, American Addiction Centers

8. Conduct a positive exit interview

An employee leaving, either by their own volition or due to termination or layoffs, is almost always a difficult and challenging scenario. Instead of getting hung up in the negative, turn the leaf yourself and provide a positive, reinforcing exit interview that leaves your team member feeling like this is simply a transition in their career, and that you support them. — Blair Thomas, First American Merchant

9. Acknowledge their strengths

There’s probably a good reason they’ve chosen to leave. The position may not have been right for them. Perhaps they didn’t get much of an opportunity to utilize all of their talents and strengths. It’s easy to see someone’s weaknesses. Avoid the temptation to comment on them, and instead focus on their strengths so they can find a more suitable role in the future. — Ismael Wrixen, FE International