Human Resources

3 Things to NEVER Do When Dealing with an Unexpected Resignation

It never fails! It’s a busy Monday morning and Joe approaches you in a huff. The day has already started with busy phones, angry clients and now you are being told that your (normally) most reliable employee is done. No notice, no letter of resignation – just DONE!
What now? The next few decisions you make could prove to be the smartest or the least advisable when trying to navigate this sudden transition smoothly.

Unfortunately, many managers make some key errors that often result in chaotic transitions and fodder for office gossip. Here are 3 things that must be avoided when dealing with an unexpected resignation.audit triggers, red flags

1.Delaying the announcement of the departure. Failing to provide at least a basic explanation of an employee’s sudden exit can be fodder for office gossip and bad information. An employee’s sudden departure requires that you be the chief news officer in order to prevent others from assuming the position. Also, this action must be taken as soon as possible.

If you must use email to communicate the resignation quickly, schedule a face to face with all impacted staff the same day, or the first thing in the morning. Get to the point and be professional in your explanation. Oh, and be honest. Allow room for employees to ask questions and express concerns. Don’t run from this conversation – no matter how uncomfortable. Your team deserves to know what the new plan will be since this employee’s departure will obviously affect them. You don’t, however, need to get into the details of the employee’s reasons for leaving. As a matter of fact, doing so may be illegal.

2.Dumping the duties onto an unsuspecting co-worker. When an employee leaves, someone must pick up the slack. That is true. But, dumping duties on one worker you believe “can handle it” may be worse than the unexpected resignation. So, look at the duties and determine the most pressing tasks the employee has left hanging. Discuss how the work should get done with the affected group, temporarily, based on each employee’s current availability and ability.

If there is just too much for the remaining staff to cover, talk to HR about using temporary help. Be sure to give the more interesting and challenging duties to employees who want to take on more responsibility, or wish to be considered for potential promotions in the near future.

An unexpected resignation may be jarring, but it doesn’t have to be an event that leaves employees feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated. In fact, the vacancy can serve as sort of audition for employees wanting to move into that position. Managers can present this challenge as an opportunity and turn a lemon into a refreshing drink of change for the right person.

3.Thinking it’s all about you. An employee’s unexpected resignation can feel like a punch in the gut to the manager who has worked hard to train and accommodate the worker. But, remember, everyone has the right to quit—just as you have the right to terminate a worker.

Don’t allow your emotions to intervene. Take this opportunity to learn more about your team and uncover any hidden perceptions they may have about their jobs, and work environment.

When an employee says their reason to leave is due to unreasonable expectations, hours or unfair policies, managers must take their feedback seriously. Survey the team—and invite anyone who may be feeling the same way a time to discuss their concerns, and find a workable solution for everyone involved. Remember to think Win-Win.

The bottom line: An employee’s unexpected resignation is certainly disruptive to your work-flow. But, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your world. By avoiding these 3 basic pitfalls, you will handle such transitions more easily and secure your company  against issues related to employee separation.


Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!

Lisa Smith


Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Development, LLC and Chief Content Developer at BeAuditSecure.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more from her in Audit-Secure Authority at BeAuditSecure.com.

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