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One of the responsibilities that comes with being a manager is managing the resignation of an employee. Regardless of if that resignation is welcomed or is the last thing you want to happen, there are a number of decisions you need to make as the manager to handle the situation. In last week’s blog, my colleague Gen shared her advice on how to handle a resignation professionally. One of the questions I am frequently asked is should you finish the employee up upon receiving their resignation (of course you need to pay out their notice period) or should you let the employee work out their notice period. It’s a tricky question as so many elements come into consideration when deciding what to do. Whatever decision you make, there are repercussions that you should consider or be prepared to manage.
I have seen many employees marched from the building the minute they hand over that resignation letter. When I resigned from a previous role I was finished up the next day. When I came into the office the day after I resigned, I was made to sit in reception and wasn’t allowed in to the rest of the office (who knows what I might have been able to steal!). I met in a meeting room with my manager who collected my work items and then I was asked to leave. After many years of service to that business it felt like a poor way to be exited. I understand there were reasons for their actions but I think it could have been handled more professionally.
When deciding if to exit an employee immediately or let them work out their notice period here are a few things for you to consider:
Risk to the business
The number one thing in my opinion is about managing the potential risk to the business. This often depends on the individual circumstances of the resignation and the nature of the business or the department in which the employee works. Where the employee is now going to work also comes in to play however you may not know this at the point of resignation. People will argue that if a departing employee was going to take any business intelligence (which is illegal and should be clearly covered in an employment contract) that they would have done it long before they hand in their resignation. However, there is still a lot of risk associated with a departing employee. Considering the information/data the employee has access to, the clients/customers they will be communicating with during their notice period, the other employees they may be influencing, are all critical in managing the risk.
This is the element sometimes most overlooked when weighing up managing a resignation. Again, this will depend a little on the individual employee and the circumstances for the employee’s resignation. Chances are that the departing employee is going to be pretty excited about their new job. They’ll be keen to boast about all the new perks of their new role, how much better the role / company / work etc will be – the grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it? Basically they have one foot out the door so you need to consider what impact keeping that team member in your work environment will have on your culture. How will it impact the rest of your team and could keeping the departing employee in the business for their notice period negatively impact your culture? Equally so, marching an employee from the business the minute they resign can also negatively impact your culture so before you decide, take the time to consider the relationships the employee has with other team members and the potential impact on the culture.
Naturally your departing employee isn’t going to be at their most productive during their notice period. As I said, they have one foot out the door and you are no longer their priority. While they still might get the work done that is required, they are typically not going to be going over and above and their productivity will dwindle. This can impact the rest of the team and it can be frustrating so if the employee is working out their notice period you need to be prepared for this. It’s important to set clear expectations with the employee around what you expect them to achieve and this may be related to handing over work / knowledge or training up another team member to take over their work.
The other element to consider is the loss of business knowledge. This ties back in with managing the risk. Depending on the role the departing employee has played in the business and the systems and processes you have in place, exiting an employee on the spot may result in business knowledge being lost and negatively impacting the business. This also goes for the client/customer relationships the departing employee may have and communicating to those clients/customers the resignation of the team member becomes critical. Are you better to involve the exiting employee in handing over the relationship to another team member or are you better to cut ties with the employee and have a new team member work hard on re-establishing those relationships.
Often the shock of a resignation can result in a knee jerk reaction to managing the situation, which very rarely achieves the best outcome for all involved. While as the manager you may want to take a particular course of action, stepping back and weighing up the options is a much better approach for all involved. Navigating a resignation can be tricky but it doesn’t have to end with bridges being burnt.
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.