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Last Updated June 16, 2024

Minimise loss of productivity due to an employee resignation

Having an employee resign, regardless of whether they have been with the business 12 months or 12 years, can have an impact.

It can impact the level of service the business is able to provide due to reduced employee levels. As well as the affects on team morale due to the person leaving and due to possible angst over workloads and delegation of tasks.

There is also managing client expectations due to a new contact.

While in some industries employees will be asked to leave immediately due to access to very sensitive data, in most instances you want the resigning employee to stay to benefit from a hand over period, to capture all of that knowledge the employee has so it is not lost upon that persons eventual departure. 

How can you minimise the impact and potential loss of productivity?

There are a number of proactive planning steps that you can take now before the event of an employee resignation, and then actions that can be taken immediately upon an employees resignation. 

Long term planning and strategy for events of resignation

Succession planning
Start by ensuring there is someone else in the team that can perform the tasks of each role within your business. From completing a stationary order, to administration of systems, through to processing client orders or requests.

Recruitment Strategy
Develop a clear strategy now for recruiting new employees in the future.  Include in your planning, areas such as, where to advertise, interview question banks, and the format of the assessment (ie. behavioural interviews, one on one interviews with senior manager or psychometric testing). Alternatively you might decide to use a recruitment agency to assist, in which case it is important to have a recruitment agency already briefed on your company and ready to go.

When you are in the situation that you are required to hire a replacement externally (rather than appoint someone internally), you want to be able to start the process straight away upon an employee submitting their resignation. The ideal situation is to have a replacement lined up before the person leaves, so that they can train that person directly.

Policies and Procedures
Ensure you have a method for capturing and reviewing policies and procedures. This will ensure that even the tasks that are completed on a less frequent basis can be carried out in the same way no matter who performs that task.

Exit Interview
Departing employees’ can provide valuable feedback and information. By failing to hold an exit interview, employers miss their best opportunity to gain the employee’s honest, transparent view of your business and to explore the reasons they have chosen to leave.

It is important to prepare in advance the questions you will ask at the exit interview.  Try to ask open, general questions that encourage engagement and answers such as, ‘What was the best thing about your role here?’ and ‘Did you feel you had the appropriate tools, resources and working conditions to be successful in your role?’, before you get to the big question – ‘Why did you choose to leave?’.

Utilise systems to store information in a central location so that all employees know where to access it.  Information that you can store includes, policies and procedures, meeting minutes, client information and handover notes for day to day tasks.  It is also important to have a company wide naming convention for files and folders to facilitate easier access to this information. 

Immediate actions in the event of a resignation

Communication with stakeholders
Upon the resignation of an employee is it important you communicate with relevant stakeholders about the changes and what the interim arrangements will be until a replacement is found.

You may choose to email relevant departments who need to process changes such as IT, payroll, administration/reception as well as the immediate team prior to announcing to the whole organisation. 

After the message has been delivered it can be helpful to consider the impact the message may have on remaining employees’ moral as friends and colleagues are no longer part of the day to day work life. Work loads can also be temporarily increased which can further impact moral. Existing employees can also feel uneasy and anxious with the uncertainty and change that a leaving employees bring.  

It is also important you notify key stakeholders such as clients, customers and suppliers that an employee has left the business and who their new point of contact will be and once again address any rumours.  Be sure you spend the time to rebuild customer relations. Customers need to continue to feel valued, to minimise the risk of taking their business to a competitor

The role of the supervisors and managers must not be forgotten in the event of a departing employee. They have the responsibility of keeping their team productive and focused during the change of employees.

Mark the Occasion
No matter the circumstances of the departing employee, it is a nice gesture to organise an event or thank you to the person for their service and wish them well.  This also shows to all of your existing employees that you do recognise and value their work. 

There are different ways that you can acknowledge the individual which can suit any budget. You may simply arrange an electronic farewell card, you may want to collect money towards a present or you may want to hold a lunch, dinner or drinks.

Customer relations
Departing employees can also have a big impact on your customers and the relationships they have with your remaining employees and your business.  It is important you communicate with your customers the changes occurring, who will be the replacement contact for your business, and once again address any rumours.  Be sure you spend the time to rebuild customer relations. Customers need to continue to feel valued, to minimise the risk of taking business to competitor

Role of the supervisor and managers
The role of the supervisors and managers must not be forgotten in the event of a departing employee.  They have the responsibility of keeping their team productive and focused during the change of employees. If the leaving employee is on the other hand a manager or team leader then in the short term, the one up manager or acting manager will need to monitor and manage the team to keep productivity on track.  Upon appointing a new supervisor or manager, that person will need to quickly form new relationships with their team settling any uncertainty and addressing moral issues. 

Document Everything
If you are unable to recruit a replacement for the departing employee in time, it is important to document all of their day to day tasks clearly so the new employee can take over eventually.  Try to delegate a current employee to do this so they understand the handover documents and can explain the role to the incoming new employee.  

In conclusion

With every employee departure there will be a period of adjustment while you decide how the business should respond. By having a plan in place this will ensure that you are as prepared as you can be for the changing over of employees.  Work can continue on as normal as possible, bills can continue to be paid and employees hours and workloads won’t be adversely affected.

For assistance with minimising the impacts of an employee departure in your team, contact  Small Business Society .

The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required.

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About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.

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