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It’s time to say goodbye

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Whether you’re a seasoned notice-hander-in-er or nervous first-timer, deciding to jump ship and head to pastures new can be nerve-wracking, daunting, exciting or even painful, all in equal measure.

It’s a conversation that nobody really wants to have – someone is inevitably going to feel let down, disappointed, or even betrayed. Emotions can really fly if the person leaving has been in their role a long time, or is particularly useful or well-liked.

But if you’ve had a torrid time, there’s often nothing better than telling your boss that you’ve got a much better offer elsewhere, before skipping out of the door. It’s a really weird process for everyone.

So as employers, are we sure we’re getting the leaving process right? And are we missing a trick or two when we arrange those exit interviews and desperately scramble to get a job advert live? Here are some really easy tips that you can action right now to get the most out of the time

Stop being an emotional wreck

Whether it’s severe anguish that your one and only developer has accepted an offer elsewhere, or even anger that someone you trusted has gone and interviewed elsewhere, just stop it. This isn’t like a wife or husband walking out the door; your employees have freedom, and they want to exercise it.

If you respond with anger, sadness or even extreme happiness, you’re making a stressful situation more stressful for everyone.

By taking a ‘business first’ approach, you can start to establish the facts, have a conversation, build a plan of action to rectify the situation and take into account the other person’s emotions too. You can then

Ask why

Many of us are guilty of throwing our toys out of the pram and putting the person who is leaving either on light duties or gardening leave, before moving onto rehiring for the role. Wrong move.

Use this as a serious opportunity to dig into the reasons why that person has opted to go elsewhere and realise that they may not be alone in their reasoning. Ask them to be really honest so you can try and fix the problems for their colleagues, or more importantly, ask them if you can make some changes that would make them reconsider.

By having a culture where the person doesn’t feel bad for raising grievances, resulting in them simply handing their notice in, you may find that resignations become less frequent.

Don’t jump straight in with a counter offer

Guess what? If you make it all about money, then you’re fighting a losing battle. Instead, really understand if the cultural benefits at their new place outstrip yours. If the answer is yes, then spend the additional budget reserved for counter offers on investigating your cultural benefits and improving them.

If you do want to counter an offer, really understand the reasons for leaving and don’t just throw money at the problem, because, guess what, they’ll keep doing it!

Really use the exit interview to your advantage

You’ve already asked why they’ve left, so now start talking about what could have been done to keep them in the exit interview. Exit interviews are all about feedback, so make the person leaving feel comfortable and try to dispel any awkwardness. Make it all about you apologising that you couldn’t give them what they needed, and that you’re keen to make those changes, and the leaver will be much more likely to give you their time and honest feedback.

Make sure you have a structured set of questions and a formal process for reporting findings and more importantly, how you’re going to action them. Don’t be afraid to check them off with the person’s former colleagues to see if the feedback actually matches up to the real world.

Speak with the wider team and don’t hide anything

To break the third wall for a second, in my old recruitment job, leavers were locked out of the system immediately, ushered into the foyer and almost pushed out of the door never to be seen again. This was to protect not only data, but to save face in front of their colleagues. Yuck.

Realise that people leave, and that your team or company isn’t the best thing since sliced bread from time to time. Let everyone know exactly what’s going on and talk into the reasons, if the person is happy to share. If you can identify others who agree, then you could save yourself from further recognition down the line.

And even if they were useless, awful or just a little bit selfish, celebrate the work they did well and thank them for their time and commitment. A leaving gift and card are very small investments and may mean that person is more likely to recommend you in the future or write a positive review about working for you.

Don’t burn bridges

Even in the most acrimonious splits, don’t slam the door shut forever more. That person, no matter how egregious they were, could become a future client or someone to solve a problem further down the line if they can sort out their personal matters or upskill.

Also, they’ll be leaving you a negative Glassdoor review if you turn on the temper, so be as nice as you can and have those process-led conversations about what went wrong, so you can apologise. And hey presto, the review they leave may not be as bad.

Don’t bury your head in the sand and continue as usual

It’s so easy to throw all the blame on the person leaving and crack on with your new hire. But guess what? If you didn’t take away any lessons from the last person who left, and don’t take on any blame yourself, you’ll make the same mistakes with that new hire. It’s better to take one small hit on the chin rather than several hits that eventually lead to a bigger punch!

Have you left a job recently? What was your leaving experience? Do you think organisations are getting the leaving process wrong, or should the candidate be less selfish in their actions? Maybe the world of work has become too contractual?

Join in the conversation on social media or speak to us about your recruitment lifecycle if all of this sounds too familiar.

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