The simple answer is yes, the hard application is how to do it in a way that protects the privacy of the situation while still maintaining a culture of transparency. This article will provide you the manager with some practical ways to handle an employee separation whether it’s voluntary or involuntary.

The Employer Should Be the First to Announce the Departure

If an employee leaves the company and his or her departure is marked by some sort of “going away” event, e.g., lunch or celebration, there may be no need to make a formal announcement about the departure. A simple note in a company newsletter or the like may be enough, or a simple announcement advising of the employee’s last day.

However, if an employee is terminated by the employer or resigns in lieu of being discharged, the employer should act quickly to manage communication and dispel rumors related to the departure.

Whom to Notify

If the company is organized by clearly defined departments, the employer should first address the staff in the departing employee’s department. If the organization is small, the employer may wish to address the entire staff at once.

Although more personal communication is usually preferable, in a large organization, it may be necessary and appropriate to send an email informing the staff of an employee’s departure.

What to Communicate

If an employee is leaving for another job opportunity, following a spouse or partner to a new location, or leaving for any reason without conflict, the employer may simply announce the employee’s departure date and wish the employee well.

If the employee is leaving involuntarily, the employer must be particularly discreet in what is said. Often the announcement is made after the employee’s departure. A simple announcement that the employee has left the company or that the employee has resigned may be sufficient. Employers should avoid providing details to avoid any risk of defamation claims or the like.

Develop a Transition Plan  

The absence of a departing employee will create a gap in productivity that you may need to fill with other employees. Thus, management should develop a plan to fill this void and share the plan with concerned employees. A transition plan to address an employee resignation should include:

  • A decision about whether to:
  • Hire a replacement from within the company;
  • Recruit externally; or
  • Divide the departing employee’s responsibilities among existing staff
  • A determination of which employees will be called on to pick up all or a portion of the departing employee’s duties
  • An estimated timeframe for how long other staff will need to share the departing employee’s responsibilities
  • A projection of additional costs of the shared responsibilities, i.e., overtime, covered meals

Alert Clients

Finally, if your departing employee has established a professional relationship with one or more of your company’s clients, it is prudent to alert any such clients to the employee’s departure. When dealing with a trusted employee who is leaving on positive terms, you may want to allow the employee to have this conversation directly with the client. Doing so may help the client understand that nothing troublesome occurred between the employee and the company that could negatively impact the client. In addition, it is important to consider doing the following:

  • Inform clients of the employee’s departure date.
  • Reach out to clients and introduce the person who will be replacing the departing employee to ensure a smooth transition. 
  • Refrain from any criticisms of the departing employee. Any perceived deficiencies in the employee’s past performance will reflect just as poorly on your organization as the individual who will no longer be part of it. 

 As you can see, if handled properly any separation can be smoothed out and the rest of your staff can get back to their “new norm”.

Happy Management!

Andrea Lewis

Human Capital Services, LLC