When It’s Over

Posted on October 23, 2023

A person walks away from the camera into the light of a sunrise or sunset along an unpaved path. A tree is visible at the left of the image.

Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Jackie Wehmeyer, Senior Director of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Parkland, Florida. Parkland was named one of the Best Places to Work in Local Government in 2021 by ELGL and a Top Workplace in 2022. Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn.

What I’m Eating:  I’m stress-eating Jordan almonds again.  Direct me to the nearest JAA meeting.

What I’m Watching: The second season of The Bear 

What I’m Cooking: Pozole Verde con Pollo

As happens in our personal lives, relationships with our employees also end.

Sometimes a particular situation forces the decision, and sometimes the relationship just runs its course. Sometimes there’s anger, and sometimes there’s sadness and melancholy. Sometimes there’s a new opportunity to move on to, and sometimes there’s no plan. Sometimes an employer sees it coming, and sometimes it happens out of the blue.

When employees leave a job, it can happen for various reasons and at any time. People leave their jobs for personal, professional, or organizational reasons. Some common situations when employees might decide to quit include:

  • Better opportunities
  • Unsatisfactory work environment
  • Personal reasons
  • Career change
  • Lack of recognition or growth
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Organizational changes
  • Burnout
  • Financial reasons
  • Retirement

It’s how we, as leaders, manage the resignation that will resonate with our team members in our organizations and allow our operations to continue with the least amount of disorder. First, we need to take the time to reflect and evaluate the resignation and consider:

How is the employee dealing with this decision? 

Ensure you communicate with the employee to determine the reasons behind the decision without being intrusive or negative. Listen and seek to understand their choice. Provide them with appropriate grace upon their exit and expect the same from them. Remind them of the value they’ve provided to the organization.

  • Did we really see this coming and ignore the signs?  

We should check in with our employees regularly to ensure they are being provided with the tools, support, and growth they need. Never assume that your employees don’t have any because they don’t come to you to verbalize their needs. Sometimes, silence signals concern.  

  • What could the organization have done to prevent this from happening?

If you uncover issues with pay, benefits, or work environment, and the organization can correct them, do it immediately. If there is an issue with a coworker or leader, investigate thoroughly and work to ensure that workplace culture issues are appropriately addressed.

  • What could I have personally done to prevent this from happening?  

Check yourself and refer back to, “Did I see this coming?”   

  • Was this resignation a blessing in disguise?  

If this employee was underperforming or unengaged, perhaps this exit might help them find a better organizational fit elsewhere.

Next, no matter what the situation, we need to realize that when employees quit, there are invariably various effects on them, their leaders and coworkers, and the organization as a whole. Considerations include:

  • Conduct Exit Interviews: Exit interviews through your organization’s Human Resources Department can help not only gain insight into the reasons for an employee’s departure, but this feedback can also help identify areas for improvement within the organization.
  • Impact on the Organization: Consequences for an organization may include the cost of recruiting and training a replacement, a temporary loss of productivity, and potential impacts on team dynamics.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition when an employee quits is essential. This may involve transferring their knowledge, responsibilities, and ongoing projects to other team members or new hires.
  • Succession Planning: Organizations should have succession plans to address employee departures. This involves identifying and developing organizational talent to fill critical roles when needed. If they still need to be established, it may be an excellent reminder to do so.
  • Emotional Impact: Employee departures can affect the emotional well-being of remaining team members. Leaders need to address any concerns and maintain morale.
  • Career Development: Some employees may quit in pursuit of career growth. Organizations can use this to reassess their approach to employee development and advancement.
  • Retention Strategies: High turnover rates may prompt organizations to develop and implement strategies to improve employee retention, such as offering professional development opportunities, more competitive compensation, and promoting a positive work environment.

When employees quit, it’s a complex process with various implications for the individual and the organization. Handling resignations professionally and strategically is essential for maintaining a healthy workplace and service continuity. Ultimately, when it’s over, we, as leaders, must show respect, express gratitude, and learn from them to ensure strong relationships with our current and future employees.

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