What to do when your best employee quits

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In an ideal world, your top employees would stay on board for years and years, and you would never have to worry about finding a substitute for them. Unfortunately, reality shows otherwise.

When one of your best employees resigns, you can try hard to convince them to stay, but ultimately you can't refuse to accept their resignation. Top employees leave for different reasons: lack of advancement opportunities, excessive workload or simply because they want to pursue a new role. But once that resignation decision is final, there may be nothing that you can do to change the employee’s mind. The good news is that there are some steps you can take to ensure that you handle the situation as smoothly as possible.

Here, Akhtaboot offers a few tips for handling a top employee’s resignation:

Discover their true reasons

Many top employees don’t leave bad jobs so much as they leave bad managers. This is why some managers find it hard to not take resignations personally. Of course your best employee will usually never tell you that you are a bad manager so they don’t burn any bridges, but you can find out their real reasons by allowing the employee to talk freely about their reasons for leaving. From salary issues, personal issues, stress or other reasons, knowing the truth might actually help you do something about it to prevent future incidents. Once you identify the real reason, accept the resignation gracefully and do some self-reflection.

Consider offering a counter-offer

While it never hurts to try to retain your best people, this doesn’t mean that you use counter-offers as a retention technique, as it might turn into a salary negotiation tool. You should be choosy about who to give counter-offers to and let some of them go without a battle. However, if the cost of an employee leaving is greater than replacing them, counter-offers may be your last shot at trying to retain your top employees. If money is the issue, propose a reasonable raise. If it's about the job title, consider revising that, but if the resignation is all about change, accept it.

Make the transition smooth

Once the final decision is made, make sure that the rest of the employees know what is expected from them. Allocate enough time to hand over the departing employee’s work to his colleagues, though many top employees usually take care of such matters before they leave. Decide whether you wish the employee to work out their full notice period or just leave right away. However, if you do the latter, be sure that you have an available substitute who can immediately handle the job.

Be transparent

It’s highly essential that you keep the rest of your employees informed when it comes to employment changes. The more information you provide your employees, the easier the transition will be. Keeping information concealed can result in gossip and rumors spreading throughout the company. Once the decision is made, start engaging in an open dialogue with your employees as soon as possible.

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