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Handling staff resignations - the importance of clear communication

Handling Staff Resignations: The Importance of Clear Communication

Whether we like it or not, the reality of running any business is that at some stage people in your team will choose to leave. And despite the fact that resignations are more often than not unpredictable, there are certain strategies employers should keep in mind in order to help prevent the repercussions of a sudden and unexpected change or loss in staff.

The unexpected departure of any employee will inevitably cause a temporary disruption to daily operations. However if handled poorly, the unforeseen impact of staff resignations can cause lasting detrimental effects on a company’s success.

If the message is not communicated promptly and clearly via the appropriate channels, the effects on team morale can be devastating.

Uncertainty will undoubtedly be at the forefront of many minds, and rumours will start immediately as other team members react and begin to wonder how such a change will affect them personally as well as the stability of their own positions.

For these reasons, early communication is critical to reassuring staff that the office operations, while they may initially experience a slight glitch or bump in the road, will be quickly stabilised and in no time at all will be back on track heading in a positive direction. Where possible, the overall message communicated to the team should be one of business as usual.

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When any change (no matter how big or small) takes place within a business, it is important for a manager to be open and up front with the team about what has happened, and where possible what is being done about the situation.

As a business owner or manager, you may believe that a resignation or change in one part of your organisation will have little or no direct impact on another part of the business. However it is amazing how much of a ripple effect a resignation, for example, from within the finance team can have on certain members of the sales force.

Share information relating to staff departures with your team as soon as possible since once the rumours start, you will end up wasting a lot of time getting the team re-focused and back on track. The more people feel they are involved during the transitioning process, the fewer disruptions (and perhaps even further unnecessary resignations) you will face down the track.

Try to communicate the news of any departure personally and whenever possible deliver the message to the entire team at the same time to ensure your message is consistent. An e-mail communicating the news can easily been misinterpreted.

No matter how long someone has been with an organisation, and no matter what role he or she may play in the business, transitions in the workplace will have an impact on everyone in some way.

However if managed the right way, not only will the rest of the team feel more at ease with the changes taking place around them, but they will also respect you as the manager or business owner for the way in which you handled what is often a very sensitive situation.

Cofounder at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for 20 years. Follow me @paul_slezak.