People Management
5 min.

5 Strategies for Managing an Employee’s Departure

Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair
Last updated on 21 Dec. 2023
Published on 21 Sep. 2021
Manager filling in paperwork for the departure of an employee
Manager filling in paperwork for the departure of an employee

It’s never easy for a team when they learn about an employee’s departure. Not only does it upset the existing balance, it can overwhelm and overburden the rest of your employees.

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Whether it’s a voluntary departure or a dismissal, offboarding is just as important as onboarding. And this is even truer if you’re losing a key person or a much-appreciated employee.

Managing an employee’s departure with due care makes it possible to preserve an ambassador and keep the rest of the team as engaged and motivated as before.

Conversely, a carelessly handled departure can result in anger, anxiety, burnout, misunderstandings, and even other departures.

So here are our tips for managing an employee’s departure with the rest of your team.

This Post Tackles the Following Questions:

·  How can you effectively prepare for the announcement of an employee’s departure?

·  What questions should you expect from your team?

·  What factors should be considered when planning workload distribution?

·  Why prioritize follow-ups with the rest of your team?

·  Why and how can you strengthen relationships within your team?

1. Prepare Your Announcement Carefully

When should you start preparing a departure announcement? As soon as your employee tells you they are leaving or you formally decide to dismiss someone.

Since departures are delicate and spark a strong response, the manner in which the news will be announced is hugely important. This is part of what will set the tone going forward.

In a previous job, at the beginning of a weekly meeting, my former boss informed the entire team that a coworker everyone appreciated had been dismissed. He tossed the news our way casually, before moving on to everyday matters.

The timing, location and approach were completely inappropriate, and really gave the impression that the manager wasn’t taking the repercussions seriously.

I remember all the members of the team being speechless. For the rest of the week, the departure was the only thing on everyone’s lips… and the insecurity, incomprehension and anger were palpable.

This is only a tiny sampling of the repercussions that can be expected in such a situation.

Here Are Some Tips for Announcing an Employee’s Departure:

1. Prepare in advance what you want to say to your team;

2. Announce the departure relatively soon, so that the news doesn’t get drowned out by other matters;

3. Announce the news orally, in person if possible;

4. Confirm the details and next steps by email, so everyone can refer back to this information as needed.

2. Be Transparent With Your Team

While some information is confidential, it is imperative that you be as transparent as possible with your team. With departures, ambiguity and things left unsaid are a breeding ground for anxiety, misunderstanding and resentment.

Here Are a Few Questions You Can Answer Immediately:

  • Why did the person want to leave? Why did you fire him or her?

The idea here is not to go into detail, but to say whether the issue had to do with a particular skill area or a personality conflict, serious misconduct, etc. Only give necessary information, and always remain respectful toward the person who is leaving.

  • Did you try to keep the employee?

Knowing that you made efforts to retain the employee demonstrates to your team that you are not taking the situation lightly. It’s important for your team to see that you care about the well-being of each member, and that you’re sensitive to the impact of a departure.

  • Does the person hold anything against the company? If so, what?

The announcement may even be an opportunity to open a discussion with the rest of the team to see if others are struggling with any common irritants.

3.  Manage Work Overload

Often, when an employee’s departure is announced, the first thing collleagues think about is the burden that this will put on their shoulders for the coming weeks or months.

Have a game plan.

Here Are a Few Questions You Should Answer:

  • Will the person be replaced?

Concerns about the workload following a departure are often high. The rest of the employees do not necessarily want to have to work more or harder to compensate for their colleague’s departure. Will the change mean… Longer shifts? A changed schedule? Being overburdened and lacking staff? Nobody wants to be in this position. Will the work be distributed among the remaining employees? Give this some thought.

  • Will teams and responsibilities be revamped?

Generally, a departure puts the rest of the employees in a vulnerable situation, i.e., wondering if their position will be called into question, or if the company will take the opportunity to restructure or make staffing changes. Proactively address apprehensions and talk straight away about what is coming, if any changes are planned.

4.  Meet With Your Employees

Take the time to see how other employees are feeling and pay special attention to the network of friends of the person leaving. It would be a good idea to schedule one-on-one meetings with each member of your team to see how each person feels about the departure and to encourage them to verbalize their emotions and concerns. You can address each of them directly and in private. Regardless of the reasons for an employee’s departure, remember that the atmosphere at work inevitably changes when you change the composition of a team, and some time will be needed to adapt.

5.  Strengthen Your Team’s Engagement

Your role as a manager is to make sure the team stays engaged, motivated and united.

A team of loyal employees who are engaged at work and dedicated to their employer is key to greater well-being at work, a healthy work atmosphere and better staff retention. It goes without saying that this step is hugely important. There are several ways to boost your team’s engagement:

  • Organize a team activity to become more tightly knit;
  • Tell your team that you are available and pleased to support them;
  • Take on some of the workload (e.g., be more present on the floor until a new employee is hired, for example).

Never Neglect an Employee’s Offboarding

In conclusion, the announcement of an employee’s departure will always make waves—but since departures are inevitable, it helps to know how to do things right. Being tactful, authentic and empathetic, both toward the departing employee and toward the rest of the team, is essential in order to keep things moving forward in a positive way.

Be well prepared and never, ever, neglect the offboarding of a team member.

To help you through the process of offboarding an employee, download our free offboarding checklist.

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