Dear Joan: We operate in a high stress work environment. Jobs are hard to come by around this area. Your recent article about giving notice to an employer when leaving a job interested me because it has come up quite often in my workplace.
Whoever was asking the question [in your column] was on his or her way out, sooner or later. In my opinion, the HR staff should make the transition as easy for the employee and the company as possible.
Good will between the company and the employee is good advertising for the company, if the company needs to refill that or another position in the future. This is especially true in small communities.
As an HR professional, I want the employee to leave with the best possible impression (even if only a recent one) of the company. For that reason, I encourage staff to contact me if they’re planning on leaving. I can possibly help them by providing employment data ahead of time, such as the file copy of the resume that got us to hire them, and dates and names and any training records, and so on.
I do not tell their supervisor, or other staff, that I am doing this for a specific employee, but all are aware that I perform this service. My discretion would apply to them as well, and that’s appreciated.
I have helped staff do research on companies and learn to do online applications. When, and if, the economy ever turns around, we may want to increase our staff size. I want our reputation in the community to be that we care about our employees and this is one way to show that we do.
As far as making the transition easy for the company, I can do that by having the ads for a replacement prepared ahead of time. I can update the job description, if needed. I can ask the exiting employee for any recommendations he/she may have for a replacement. I can get a more accurate exit interview—and be sure that do get one—which may help with replacement. I can get updates on projects that need to be done ahead of the curve. All of this helps me do a faster and better hire, which is good for the company. And there are fewer hard feelings on all sides. Again, my credibility in the organization and community, as well as the organization’s reputation, is enhanced as well.
Very impressive. Many human resources folks and managers take the opposite approach. They view an exiting employee as a deserter, someone who should be shunned and shown the door.
Your approach is an excellent fit for your organization, since you may need to rehire past employees and word will travel in your small community about how you treat people. Rather than viewing turnover as an unfortunate statistic, you are proactively managing the process to turn in into a strategic opportunity.
I am dismayed by the number of managers who don’t meet with each of their employees to openly discuss their employees’ careers. They worry, “But what if my employee isn’t happy where he is?” “What if she wants to move up and there is no position for her to move into?” Or, they say, “Why should I develop and grow an employee, if he or she is only going to leave anyway?”
Instead of having an open discussion about what the employee really wants, and coaching the employee about what his or her options are, managers say nothing and pretend everyone will stay in their jobs forever. Then when someone announces they are leaving, they are shocked, or even hurt.
Your approach is so much more sophisticated and proactive. You recognize that the company has ever changing need for skills and talents and people have an ever changing skill-set that may fit the company one year but for varying reasons may not fit several years later. This is a fluid process, not a static one, which means people will come and go. So, why not create an open atmosphere where employees can get their career needs met and the company can plan for what it needs?
I suspect that there is another benefit to your open approach that you haven’t mentioned. They are probably more likely to come to you when they are feeling dissatisfied or unhappy about something in their jobs, instead of letting it fester and then leaving the company in disgust. Ironic isn’t it? Willingness to help employees leave, creates an environment that encourages them to stay.
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Joan Lloyd has a solid track record of excellent results. Her firm, Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes
in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding. This includes executive coaching,
360-degree feedback processes, customized leadership training, conflict resolution between teams or
individuals, internal consulting skills training for HR professionals and retreat facilitation. Clients report
results such as: behavior change in leaders, improved team performance and a more committed