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Last Updated August 29, 2023

The value of HR when an employee resigns or leaves.

We often associate Human Resources (HR) professionals with the onboarding process and employee engagement strategies. However, their role goes beyond welcoming new hires and satisfying existing employees, as they also play an important role when an employee resigns or leaves the business.

Employees can leave our businesses for a range of reasons. In fact, the 12-month employee turnover rate to the end of April 2023 is currently 12%, with 20% of organisations reporting annual turnover of 20% and above.1

Employees leaving a business 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.

This is where you need HR professionals, who have a unique opportunity to add value to exiting employees as they transition out of the organisation. 

Let’s explore ways HR professionals can make this process more positive and beneficial for everyone involved.

1. Exit Interviews with a Personal Touch

Exit interviews provide a valuable opportunity for departing employees to share their experiences and provide constructive feedback. HR professionals can conduct these interviews with a personal touch, showing genuine interest and empathy. Creating a safe and non-judgmental environment encourages honest communication, which helps the organisation identify areas of improvement and provides closure for the employee.

2. Offering Support and Guidance

Leaving a job can be an emotional and overwhelming experience. HR professionals can offer support and guidance to exiting employees by providing information on career transition resources, job search tips, and professional development opportunities. Sharing industry contacts and recommending relevant networking events or workshops demonstrates a commitment to the individual’s ongoing success beyond their time with the company.

3. Providing References and Recommendations

A positive reference or recommendation can significantly impact an employee’s future career prospects. HR professionals can play a vital role in this regard by offering to provide references and recommendations based on the employee’s performance and accomplishments. By helping exiting employees showcase their skills and potential, HR professionals can contribute to their professional growth and enhance their job search efforts.

4. Exit Surveys for Continuous Improvement

Just as HR professionals conduct employee satisfaction surveys, they can also implement exit surveys. These surveys help identify patterns and trends in employees’ reasons for leaving, highlighting areas that need improvement within the organisation. By analysing the data from exit surveys, HR professionals can develop strategies to enhance employee retention and satisfaction, ultimately benefiting current and future employees.

5. Alumni Programs and Knowledge Sharing

Creating an alumni program can be a valuable initiative for small businesses with people who may become valuable advocates for the organisation or potential partners in the future. HR professionals can maintain positive relationships with exiting employees by staying connected even after they leave the organisation. Such gestures create a network of alumni connections that can be maintained through occasional check-in emails, inviting them to company events, or connecting on professional networking platforms, which helps foster a sense of ongoing support and goodwill. 

6. Clarity on final pay and entitlements 

HR professionals can provide advice about the legalities of processing final payments. However the employment relationship ends, it’s essential to follow the rules about notice periods and inclusions in final pay for each situation.

7. Consistent and timely exit processes

To ensure a consistent and timely exit process for all employees, develop a checklist to document all the necessary steps required to be completed before an employee leaves. The checklist is completed by the employee together with their Supervisor or Manager.

Let’s take a closer look at an example when an employee resigns of a good employee exit with structured HR processes.

Let’s consider the case of John, who has been working as a software engineer for a technology company. John has been contemplating a career change and has decided to pursue a different industry. Understanding the importance of a smooth transition, John follows the established HR process for resignations.

John schedules a meeting with his immediate supervisor, Jane, to discuss his intention to resign. During this meeting, John thoroughly explained his reasons for leaving and expressed his gratitude for the opportunities and growth he experienced with the company. He offers to assist in the transition by creating a detailed handover document and volunteering to train his replacement if time permits.

Jane, appreciating John’s professionalism, assures him that his contributions will be valued during his remaining time with the company. She discusses the transition plan, which includes identifying potential candidates for the open position and allocating resources to ensure a seamless transfer of responsibilities. Jane also arranges an exit interview for John with the HR department to gather feedback and address any concerns he may have.

In the following weeks, John fulfills his commitments and collaborates closely with his team to transfer knowledge and complete ongoing projects. He actively participates in onboarding the new hire, providing guidance and support. On his last day, John meets with HR for the exit interview, where he gives constructive feedback about his experience and offers suggestions for improvement.

As a result of this well-structured employee exit, the transition process is much smoother. The company can minimise disruptions to workflow, maintain client satisfaction, and effectively fill vacant positions. John’s professional approach fosters positive relationships, leaving a lasting impression on his colleagues and ensuring a positive reference for future opportunities. 

Additionally, the exit interview feedback helps the company identify areas for growth and employee retention strategies.

By implementing these changes to your employee exit process, you will ensure that employees leave the organisation on a positive note. 

A negative exit experience can impact legal and legislative requirements, your business’ brand, your ability to hire top talent, internal team morale, and even your reputation with customers. It makes good business sense to exit employees consistently and positively. A positive employee experience doesn’t end at the exit door—it extends into the future, benefiting all parties involved.

Contact Small Business Society for a review of your employee exit process or enroll in our online course.

  1. https://www.ahri.com.au/wp-content/uploads/AHRI-report_15.5.23.pdf

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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