7 Top Tips to Managing an Employee Resignation

(1) See the bigger picture – The job market is far more transient today than ever, which means every business will face the challenge of staff retention. The average length of time spent in any job varies for individuals varies depending on a variety of factors, including their experience, personal life, career goals, and the nature of the role itself. As such, an employee resignation should not be automatically considered as a negative response to the role in which they were employed. In contrast, employee turnover should be planned for and anticipated as part of succession planning, which should be subject to regular review in each department as part of ongoing business risk management.

As well as managing the immediate issues related to the employee resignation, including wider team support before, during and after the employee departure, review of the role, and potential recruitment and embedding of a replacement, it is recommended to review the impact the change has had on the business and whether actions are needed to reduce or better manage such circumstances in future.

(2) Understand why they have resigned – Take time to identify and reflect upon the employee decision. If circumstances permit, it is good practice to conduct an initial and relatively informal discussion with the employee, without following a set structure, to explore their reasons for deciding to leave, future goals, and their level of confidence in their decision. This may highlight whether the decision is part of a definite career or life plan, or a heat of the moment decision in reaction to circumstances at work. If the latter proves to be the case, you may feel remedial steps can be taken to deal with the issues. An effective staff retention strategy may be to offer a cooling off period and agree upon any measures needed within a plan to resolve the issues identified.

Request a letter of resignation at this stage to agree process and end date, but stress that this may be retracted, if the employee changes their mind as a result of measures taken.

In the worst-case scenario, if the employee has been offered and accepted another role, an action plan to address any issues may help to maintain their goodwill and level of performance during their notice period, during which they may wish to reconsider their decision. Whilst some businesses may consider making a counteroffer, this is only likely to have long term success if any underlying concerns are addressed. If nothing changes, and the employee remains committed to leave, conduct a more formal exit interview closer to the time of their departure. During this interview, as well as following the set exit interview questions, refer back to the notes made in the initial informal meeting, and ask for their feedback on the measures attempted. These learnings may help with succession planning for both this role and others within the business in the future.

(3) Manage any potential HR issues – After the initial interview, consider whether there are any issues which need to be brought to the attention of the HR team. Give feedback to HR on issues identified and any measures agreed to try to deal with them, and make sure they are aware of any issues which may suggest grounds for a potential claim. Seek support from the HR team on how to implement and communicate any changes within the immediate team and wider business, if relevant, including any potential updates to HR policy.

(4) Inform and involve the team – If an action plan has been agreed to address any issues, it is most likely that successful implementation will require the support and commitment from the employee’s immediate team. It is essential that this is communicated and acted upon as soon as possible, in order to show commitment to the employee and result in any prospect of a successful outcome in terms of accepted change. Alternatively, if the employee decision is definite, and confirmed via their letter of resignation, ensure the team are informed as soon as possible, along with the plans to facilitate a smooth transition and recruitment for a replacement. Consider whether any further interviews are required with other team members to understand any issues identified, which might affect future employee turnover.

(5) Start the recruitment process – Review the Job Description immediately and consider whether this accurately reflects the role and context on which the employee has made the decision to leave. If the employee has been in the role for several years, it is likely that key aspects of the role may have changed or are no longer relevant. Take the opportunity to review the role in context of other members of the team, and market changes. Involve a recruitment agency in this review at an early stage, to gauge their feedback on potential difficulties in recruiting a replacement within the desired timeframe. Consider what feedback can be shared with the agency relating to the circumstances discussed in the exit interview, in particular if the role which has been subject to persistent employee turnover. This is likely to affect the success of the recruitment and retention of any replacement.

(6) Part on good terms – Depending on how well and sensitively an employee resignation and departure is managed, the former employee can remain amongst either the best or worst advocates for a business, both to clients and to potential future job applicants. It is good practice to consider the employee as a future advocate prior to their departure and make every effort to ensure they leave on a positive note, feeling respected and that their efforts and contribution have been valued.

(7) Review and reflect – After the employee departure, review the feedback given and actions taken, and ask whether there is anything that could be done differently in the future. Capture these thoughts at the time and record them within a forward moving action plan designed to support staff retention and support more effective management of future resignations.


Careerz Limited, based in Canterbury, specialise in supporting Kent and London based companies to recruit local, business critical, technology & marketing talent.

For further information, please call John Adams on 01227 656 888 or 0208 0990 888

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