‘It’s not me, it’s you’. Dealing with resignations

Employer advice

It’s never easy when an employee decides to hand in their notice. One thing is for sure that in most cases it comes completely out of the blue. When it comes to dealing with resignations, however much of a surprise they might be, you don’t want to be caught off guard. No matter how you feel about the employee who has just handed in their notice, whether it be delight or frustration, you’ll want to keep a professional head on and not let emotions get the better of you. Here are some simple rules to keep at the back of mind when that surprise resignation comes about.


Take it personally
There could be many reasons why the employee is leaving, from higher salary to the commute time. Don’t immediately think that it’s about you because nine times out of ten it’s not. Becoming defensive and saying they’ve lost out on a great opportunity will leave them feeling even more certain that it’s the right decision to leave.

Don’t start to become confrontational and oppose their reasons for moving on, berating them and belittling their decision. You’ll make an already nerve wracking experience even worse and could leave the employee with no confidence and a very bitter taste in their mouth when leaving.

Express relief
No matter the relationship between you and the employee leaving don’t express your emotions publically – relief or mourning for losing your favourite worker. Wish them all the best and thank them for the work they did. Don’t then talk about it to fellow colleagues as you could end up saying something unprofessional by showing your disdain or favouritism towards this employee.

Talk about advertising for their role immediately
Yes they’re leaving and you do need to think about next steps in terms of recruiting but saying it in front of them will show very little compassion and also make you come across as bitter about their decision – both resulting in you looking unprofessional.

Do nothing
Once they’ve handed in their notice it’s best to explain next steps, when you’ll tell the rest of the team, if there will be an exit interview and the handover that’ll be needed.


Thank them for their work with you
They might be leaving but remember the work they’ve produced and time they’ve committed over their period with you.  Showing they were valued and appreciated goes a long way and will mean they’ll leave on good terms.

Congratulate them
Yes they’re leaving you but you know what it’s like to get a new job and the excitement you feel. They didn’t take this new job to spite you, it was to better themselves. Congratulating them and showing your happiness for their next career move will calm their nerves and will make it easier for them to work through their notice period without feeling they have to walk on egg shells.

Express regret
Show you’re upset that they’re leaving – after all they’re taking valuable skills that they’ve learnt with you to another company, of course there will be regret. Even if the employee is someone who you weren’t particularly fond of keep it professional and mention how it is shame they’re leaving. It’s important to keep things positive and not be too honest about how you truly feel, this isn’t your opportunity to bare your soul.

Politely ask about their next role and company
Of course you want to know where they’re going and what they’ll be doing there, it’s simple curiosity. Don’t probe too much but asking where the opportunity is and the role will help you to work out why they’re resigning and going elsewhere. Showing interest can also make the employee feel that they can turn to you for support and help them with any questions they may have around their new position.

Think about next steps
Let them know that it might not be wise to tell everyone immediately that they’re leaving. Tell them you need to speak to HR to get everything settled before it’s announced but that HR will be in touch with an exit interview or questionnaire. If a counter offer can be offered discuss this too because you might be able to retain talent.

Need more advice on how to handle resignations and to manage those gaps in your team? Speak to your local Brook Street team today.