What Not to Do When an Employee Gives Their Notice

The reality of running any team or business is that at some point people in your team will decide to leave. Depending on how long the person has been with your company and what the quality of their work is, it is likely that you could find yourself surprised and disappointed by a resignation, particularly if they have not dropped any hints that they are planning on departing. Despite the fact that resignations are normally unpredictable, there are certain strategies employers should keep in mind in order to help prevent the repercussions of an unexpected change or loss in staff.

No matter how you feel about the employee’s departure, it is important to remain professional throughout the remainder of their time with your company (and during the exit interview, if your business chooses to conduct one). There is still the potential for employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) claims to arise, even though the individual is leaving your employment. When one of your team members gives you their two weeks notice, it is advised to avoid the following pitfalls.

Don’t Take it Personally

Maybe the employee is leaving because they dislike their working environment. Or maybe it’s family issues, salary, learning opportunities, or just needing a breath of fresh air. Whatever it is, you’ll find out in the exit interview. Becoming immediately defensive or taking it personally when your employee is trying to get through an already nerve-wracking conversation about quitting will leave a negative image in the employee’s mind. If you find yourself becoming defensive, take a deep breath and remember that employees come and go as part of business life. It’s easy to think back to what you could have done differently, but there may not have been anything you could do.

Don’t Show Anger

Giving notice is almost always nerve-wracking for the employee no matter the circumstances. If you immediately lash out or say you’re happy to see them go, you have just made every “bad boss” nightmare come true. If you’re prone to outbursts, coach yourself to take a deep breath when you’re confronted with the situation and have a positive response prepared. Even if the employee is rude or unprofessional when they tell you that they give their notice, that is not an invitation for you to engage in aggressive or harassing behavior.

Don’t Express Relief

Never immediately tell other employees how relieved you are that the departing employee is departing. Doing so will look unprofessional and will make the other employees wonder whether you’re harboring similar thoughts about them and their performance. Even if you are very excited that the departing employee is leaving, wait until you’re with a non-work friend to show your relief.

Don’t Play Politics

Telling the employee not to say anything to anyone until you can figure out how to spin the situation seems spineless and ridiculous. Most likely, the employee has already told their friends, and by playing politics, you’ll just look unprofessional. If you do need to handle the situation carefully, say, “Let me check and see exactly the process for handling this; I’ll get back to you ASAP.”

Don’t Do Nothing

Whatever the next steps are, you should never just say, “Okay; thank you” and go right back to work. Your employee likely has no idea what comes next. Talk them through the next steps and questions. You may have to admit to not knowing all the answers and get back to them.

Proper acknowledgment and response to an employee who gives notice will smooth out his or her experience and leave him or her feeling positive about you and your company. If the employee has a good experience with you on the way out, your other employees will know about it. This will build your reputation as a boss, and impacts how you have this conversation in the future.

As a manager, you are exposed to employment practices lawsuits in all areas of your business, even when employees are on their way out the door. The last thing you want is to make an already difficult situation even more complicated by inviting an EPLI claim. In addition to understanding the above advice, make sure to protect your operation with a comprehensive New Jersey Business Insurance program that includes EPLI coverage.


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