What to Do When Your Best Employee Quits

Whether your company is large or small, having your best employee submit their notice can be trying. Great employees tend to take on a lot, which can leave you feeling alone, stressed, and betrayed when they inform you that they will be leaving. You may also have difficulty seeing how you will carry on after their departure.

When your best employee quits, it can be helpful to remember the following.

Put Your Emotions Aside

Most employers’ initial internal reaction to their best employee leaving goes something like “How can you do this to me?! I thought we understood each other!” However, that’s a reaction that will make the encounter infinitely more uncomfortable. Taking a breath and putting emotions aside can help you to move forward faster and to keep a good relationship with the departing employee.

Find out why the Employee is Leaving

There are a million reasons that an employee may leave, so don’t assume that the reason is obvious or personal. Ambitious, hardworking people work on improving themselves constantly, which can cause them to “outgrow” your business. If you are tactful, you may also glean some insight into what you could do better to keep your next great employee longer.

It may be awkward for an employee to tell you all of their reasons for leaving face-to-face. Even if you speak to the person in depth, it may still be helpful to follow up with a digital exit interview. Employees may be more candid when they are on their own time and not right in front of you.

Don’t Make a Counter Offer

If an employee has gone through the thought process of leaving and made their decision, it’s generally unwise to make a counter offer. If they do stay, they may be unhappy with the position that they are now in, a job that they have already imagined themselves moving on from. If they don’t stay, it makes you look weak and unprepared.

Cover Legal Bases

It’s important to make sure that you draw up a final paycheck for the employee, disperse benefits, figure out bonuses, provide COBRA notices, and comply with any other legal obligations. In an already tumultuous time, it can be difficult to remember everything. For best results, have a checklist of obligations for terminations to help you remember and cover all of the bases.

Fill the Gaps

The first step to moving forward without your best employee is to make sure all of their duties and shifts are covered. It may be necessary to distribute their tasks among existing employees or to take on some of their tasks. Hiring a new employee or looking at existing employees for promotions is the next step.

It may be prudent to have the employee list all of the things that they do. This can help you to figure out exactly who will take on what, filling the gaps in a more organized fashion while you look for someone to replace your star.

Evaluate Your Leadership

Many employees quit because of their managers. It may be worthwhile to assess your own leadership and to survey how employees feel about your other managers. This can help you to spot leadership issues that may be contributing to turnover. If you know where your problems lie, you can work to correct them and keep future “best employees” happy.

HR software can help you to engage your employees and can assist with exit interviews. If you would like help finding HR software that works for you, check out our vendor matching page.

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