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Handling employee exit


Employers have to contend with employee turnover at different stages of business life. Sometimes employees decide to leave work for reasons beyond their control. For most employers, losing an integral and valued team member is sad. Studies show that this will happen even in the happiest work environment. No matter the reason for resignation, it is imperative for a leader to act with dignity, grace and professionalism.

Why employees leave

Susan Heathfield of The Balance Career notes; employees resign when they receive irresistible job offers that will catapult their careers, when growth opportunities are lacking, heading back to school or resign to leave bad bosses.  A 2015 Gallup study shows; 50 per cent of the respondents said they quit their job to get away from their manager.

Leigh Branham, an employee-retention expert and author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave blames high employee turnover on; a mismatch between a job and the person, too little coaching and feedback, too few growth and advancement opportunities, feeling devalued and unrecognised, stress from overwork and work-life imbalance, and loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders.

Harvard Business Review conducted research of correlation between job dissatisfaction and turnover. Their simple and brief answer was “inertia.” HBR juxtaposed this finding to the concept of inertia in physics; a body will remain at a state of rest until acted upon by an external force. Employees tend to remain with a company until some force causes them to leave. As such, employees will just remain with the company for as long as there is job satisfaction, pleasant company environment and employee comfort.

So, when an employee is finally outbound, the employer should commence the off-boarding process;

Talk them to stay

Hold a conversation and understand the reasons for resignation. Persuade the person to stay. If the employee is extremely valuable, you may consider making a counter-offer. If they decline, wish them well and make the transition pleasant for everyone.

Congratulate them

No matter how unwelcome the news is, it’s important to congratulate your exiting employee and celebrate their accomplishments with the company. Wish them well in their new venture and let them know they are always welcome back.

Assess security risks

A 2003 Computer Crime and Security Survey by The Computer Security Institute shows that “theft of proprietary information caused the greatest financial loss to companies.” Sixty-two per cent of those who responded to the survey reported that an insider was involved in a security incident.

Forensicon Inc. explains that, “that statistic alone should provide the impetus for companies to take precautionary steps when employees leave the company to prevent incidents of deliberate sabotage to company data (destruction, alteration or removal of proprietary information).”

Conduct an exit interview

Exit interviews help the company collect vital feedback that can help reduce employee turnover. It is also an opportune time to remind the employees that company information is confidential and should not be revealed to an outsider as per the non-disclosure agreement they signed in the initial employment stages.

Derrick Vikiru is the Sub Editor Management Magazine. Email:

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