How To Handle An Unexpected Employee Resignation

Employee turnover is a natural part of the business world for startups and smaller businesses. Employees quit, resign, or get fired every day. Sometimes employees move on for personal reasons; other times they make a move before a boss or business owner does it for them.

Dealing with the termination of an employee is fairly straightforward and generally includes a plan before he or she is terminated. Of course, there are scenarios in which an employee does something that prompts an on-the-spot termination in which case a plan for shifting their work may not be in place.

But what about when an employee resigns? How does management handle this oftentimes-unexpected news? Here are three strategies that can help with this scenario.

Understand that it’s not personal

Employees resign for many reasons, most of them personal to themselves. For startups and developing companies to expect that every employee is as gung-ho about the business as the owners are is unrealistic. Some employees simply aren’t as committed to the process of building a business as others. For many people, a startup or small business doesn’t have what they’re looking for in the next step of their career. Sometimes, employees outgrow the position they’ve been given, and if their employer can’t provide the next step in their careers, then someone else should. It’s not personal; it’s business.

Notify the rest of the team

When an employee resigns, it’s important that management informs the rest of the team in a timely manner. This will help avoid the idle gossip that tends to surround these shifts in personnel. Perhaps call a quick meeting and inform the other employees about the employee who resigned. All of this helps to ensure that the remaining team members are able to pick up the slack until a replacement is found. Generally, good employees are willing to perform extra work, or work longer hours, to help fill the void left by the departing employee. As a professional courtesy, it’s important to let them know the time frame during which this will be expected.

Conduct an exit interview

Oftentimes employees resign for a specific reason they may not be forthcoming about in the resignation letter or in conversation with their boss. An exit interview is a great learning experience for business owners and managers to learn about the state of the business. These interviews provide an opportunity to find out what employees liked, disliked, and didn’t care for while working for that business. Many questions in an exit interview should pertain to working environment the answers to which can provide great insight for owners moving forward. A business owner or manager may assume employees are happy, but they may not be creating the environment employees want to work in.

An employee’s resignation, no matter their position in the business, is typically not insurmountable. The key is to be prepared to handle the situation properly and have a plan for diving the work until a replacement is brought in.

If you’d like to discuss other strategies for handling employee resignation, contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation.


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