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Keeping the Ship Afloat: 6 Things to Do when Your Key Employee Quits

July 28, 2017

On one fine day, one of your best employees comes to your office and tells his intention to leave the team. Just imagine the shock, disappointment, anxiety, and anger mixed together upon hearing the statement. You know that it has been tough to run the business when a team member takes a short leave, let alone having them quit the team altogether. As painful as it might be, key employee turnover is something inevitable in every organisation. Then how should you handle their resignation?

When an employee is handing in his resignation paper, a series of questions invade your mind. Who will be responsible to take over their responsibilities? Can you find new talent with the same skills and quality to fill the position? How are you going to explain their resignation to the other team members? How will they react to this news?

The truth is, at some point in one’s career journey, even the most loyal employee will eventually leave the company. Be it for pursuing greener pastures, getting bored of the routine, or having other personal reasons, there are good chances that your top performers will leave you for good.

Given their central role and immense contribution for the team, letting them go could be a difficult yet unavoidable option. What makes it more daunting, their departure not only affects the ongoing project’s stability, but also impacts the entire employee morale. Owing to which, it is crucial for HR leader to prepare for such changes in the team.

Here are 6 things to do when your key employee quits, such that you can keep the ship afloat and navigate smoothly:

See: Over a Third of Employees in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong Plan to Quit Jobs in the Next Six Months

  1.    Stay calm and accept

When you hear that your employee is quitting, it is best to hold your response and stay calm. Since there is little you can do to change their decision, you should not lash out in anger and panic. All you have to do is to take a breath and accept the fact. Instead of peppering them with judging questions, you might want to ask them why they decide to leave, as well as their future plan in a composed manner.

  1.    Conduct exit interview

There are copious reasons why an employee chooses to move on, and this is a good time for you to reflect. You can gain insights to improve the organisation by conducting an exit interview before they are departing, either through face-to-face meeting or via email and written surveys. By mining information and experience from the employee, this will help you prepare a strategy to fill the gap and implement better plans.

  1.    Show your support

If your employee is leaving for better career opportunity, it is important to demonstrate positive attitude and show your support. You should feel grateful for their hard-work and efforts put in the team, by giving them good recommendation and referral if they need it.

  1.    Organise everything

When the decision is final, the next thing to do is to organise and arrange necessary documents related to the termination. There will be particular obligations that should be fulfilled before their end of employment. Hence, you should ensure that all legal documents have been documented and taken care.

  1.    Be honest and transparent

Employee churn is not only a shock for HR department, but also for the co-workers. To prevent any gossips and rumours spreading around the floor, leaders should be honest and transparent about the departure. Let the employee say his goodbye, such that they get a chance to explain the reasons to his teammates.

  1.    Arrange the transition

Finding someone to take over the responsibility should be your priority when an employee is leaving. Be it assigning the existing team member or hiring new people, you should have a backup plan when sudden resignation happens.

Read also: Trust Issues: Most Often Employees Hop Jobs or Quit Because of Stress and Distrust

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