Employee Retention: My Employee is Leaving— Now What?

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)


Employee Retention: How to Act With Class and Style When an Employee Is Leaving

Employee retention is hard. When an employee is leaving your business, as the proprietor, there is an instinct to feel rejected and think “I must have done something to make them leave."  When people leave my business, I have these thoughts as well. An employee moving on is never easy, but having good employees ultimately means opportunities will come knocking. With that said, here are a few tips I have used over the years when an employee is about to leave.

Do Whatever You Can to Get Them to Stay. If you like the employee, make them a counter offer. Money, time off, training, theme park tickets, and other incentives can convince someone to stay. Look at your resources and make the offer as good as you can, but also realize that it may not work. The last time someone left my company, the employee told me that they wanted to try a new opportunity and that they knew I would try to keep them. This employee left on very good terms, and throughout the process it became clear to both the employee and the rest of my staff that I am committed to keeping good people.

Don't Be a Jerk. We have all seen poor behavior from management when an employee is leaving a job. The company calls security, shuts down their computer, proceeds to cuss them out, or worse, just gives the employee the silent treatment.

This type of conduct doesn’t get you anywhere. Being an asshole when an employee decides to leave not only alienates you from the employee, it also alienates you from the rest of your staff. If you are an asshole when one employee is leaving, your staff may infer that you’ll likely be a jerk when others leave as well. In the heat of the moment, this behavior will not convince anyone to stay.

If your employee is leaving, there is nothing you can do except be positive about it. Make a positive fuss. Bring a bottle of good champagne; get some cupcakes and a gift. Do something fun that gets your whole office involved.

Talk to Your Staff. When an employee decides to leave, be open about it and have a conversation with your staff. This is a vulnerable time for your company and should be a time for reflection.

Be public about the exit by congratulating the employee on social media. Go over what you will say about the employee and make sure to post it quickly.

Take the employee out to dinner and thank them for their work. Let them know there is a place for them in the future, should they decided to come back. All of this takes some finesse, and you don't want to seem desperate, but it is important that you show your appreciation and you never know if you make employee retention a priority and actually communicate how much you appreciate the employee they may stay.

Even if you didn’t love the employee, there is a benefit to making the exit a positive experience for you and your staff. It doesn't always work out this way, but a gracious exit is always much better than the alternative.