What to say (and do) when an employee resigns

What to say (and do) when an employee resigns

Knowing what to say when an employee resigns can be challenging. However, employee resignations are inevitable at some point. Whether an employee is leaving for personal reasons, career growth, or pursuing new opportunities, it is crucial for employers to respond appropriately. This blog will explore what to say when an employee resigns, and provide an indication of next steps.

What to say when an employee resigns -5 tips


1. Create a positive atmosphere


When someone resigns, receiving this information may well prompt a mixture of emotions: being pleased for the person and hopeful that all will turn out well, disappointment that the person is leaving, concern about what this departure means for the organisation etc.

Whatever the circumstances, it is important to make the environment as positive and supportive as possible. For example, acknowledge the resignation promptly so that the person in question does not feel ignored, and provide the opportunity to discuss the situation– the importance of such a conversation is referred to below.

Effort should be taken to maintain this positive approach throughout the entire process rather than a single aspect of it. A basic example of such an approach would be to acknowledge the contribution made by that individual.

2. Discuss the resignation at an early stage


It may be tempting to ignore the resignation and carry on as normal, but that is not the answer. It is important to understand the situation from the outset. Perhaps, the person concerned resigned in the heat of the moment and wishes that it never happened. In such a situation, would the organisation wish the employee to stay? If a resignation is expressed verbally, what steps have been taken to confirm that the person has actually resigned? Having such a discussion at the outset is likely to remove any such uncertainty.

Such a conversation may provide useful insights regarding why the person is leaving. Depending on the circumstances, it may be better to arrange a separate exit interview to discuss the reasons for the departure. The importance of exit interviews will be referred to later in this blog.

3. Discuss next steps


The departure of an employee has the potential to cause chaos if thought and care is not taken to organise next steps and achieve a smooth transition. For example, will the employee be expected to work their notice? If not, have any requirements been explained? What is the process for returning any items belonging to the organisation?

It is important that the individual is able to participate fully in the process, rather than it appearing to be a tick box exercise.


4. Act consistently


Whilst everyone is different, it is important to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and consistently. An inconsistent approach to responding to a resignation letter (or to discussing it) may prompt the individual to feel disappointment, to be distressed, and to believe that the organisation does not care, or that they are being treated differently than others. This is likely to make the process more difficult than would otherwise have been the case.

In addition, there may also be issues to address such as whether the employee would be required to work their notice, or whether garden leave would be appropriate. For more information on garden leave, read our blog When would you be put on garden leave?

Similarly, the employee may be subject to post employment restrictions which affect the options available on departure. Given the impact on an employee, it is particularly important that any decisions made are fair, consistent and transparent.


5. Consider an exit interview


Knowing why employees leave can provide an organisation with invaluable insights, which can then be used to improve the way in which things are done in future. A basic example is to discover that the rate of pay is the reason given by the majority of those leaving the organisation recently.

It may well be that the situation is more complicated than that, and the decision to go was due to several reasons. In such a situation it is likely to be useful to know what those reasons are. Perhaps, the exercise reveals persistent issues with particular colleagues, or highlights the demands of the job.

The quality of the information obtained depends to a significant extent on the process that is used to secure it. Similarly, positive change will only come about if the information is acted upon to bring about improvement. To find out more about exit interviews, and the value that such interviews can bring to both employees and employers, read our blog what to say in an exit interview

Plotkin & Chandler works exclusively in the areas of HR and employment law and assists both employees and employers.

If you are an organisation, we have expertise in delivering HR consultancy and HR training on the topics included in this blog, such as managing departures. In addition to our HR services, we support clients with Defending an Employment Tribunal Claim.

If you are an employee, and feel that you have been unfairly treated, or you would like to discuss bringing an Employment Tribunal Claim, we would be pleased to hear from you.

Please contact us on 020 3923 8616 or via email on info@plotkinandchandler.com to discuss your needs and the ways in which we can help.









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