Tackling Employee Departures at the Individual Level

Jascha Zittel

Employee departures are a natural part of the employee lifecycle — but in most cases, resignations are pretty unpleasant.

Team members outgrowing their roles or wanting to explore a different path is no one's fault, and parting may be amicable on both sides. 

However, if you’ve faced abrupt and mass employee resignations or have chronic difficulties with retaining the workforce — there are issues you need to address ASAP.

The right approach to employee retention is personal.

Getting closer to your deskless team members, no matter how numerous, may be easier than you think. But first, you need to learn:

  • Why are they leaving;
  • How expensive it is to neglect employee retention;
  • What are the tell-tale signs your staff members might quit soon;
  • How (and why) to take a more personal approach to employee termination;
  • How to handle employee departures when they inevitably happen and make the most of them;
  • What else can you do to decrease employee resignations.

Let’s go over the essentials. ⚡

Why Do Workers (Still) Leave? 

The experts suggest that “The Great Resignation” is over, and employee departures are back to how they were in 2019. The recent mass layoffs in tech certainly attributed to the rumours that the tides have turned.

However, the current state of the frontline workforce paints a different picture. 

During the pandemic and immediately after, the global workforce went through a mindset shift. We finally got to name and understand the quiet quitting phenomenon and learned why people only do the bare minimum and eventually leave.

The research conducted directly with frontline workers, managers, and leaders reveals that:

  • 42% of frontline workers want to quit, spearheaded by Gen Z employees
  • Understaffed premises, employee burnout, and inadequate compensation for work are the top-ranked complaints coming from frontline workers and their managers;
  • Quiet quitting is still popular among deskless workers — some respondents report struggling with worker absenteeism.

Although other research proves that deskless and blue-collar workers are now more respected and in demand than before the heat of the pandemic, employers aren’t doing enough to address their concerns. 

As a result, employee churn levels remain infamously high for the frontline workforce — as per WSJ, turnover rates may reach 500% per year.

The Cost of Staff Quitting

The cost of replacing an employee varies depending on the industry, role complexity, and how fast can you onboard new staff. 

In any case, it drains the resources severely: at the top of the range, it may cost up to $26,250 to replace an employee earning $35k/year.

A high employee turnover rate hurts more than your profit margins. Employers that constantly hire for the same positions are a huge red flag that’s quickly noticed among the potential staff. The word spreads to customers and further harms your reputation.

Ultimately, having to train new people repeatedly and not having a reliable fleet leads to staffing and shift scheduling issues.

The Arguments in Favor of a More Personal Approach

When you look at all the people who quit recently, do you see wasted resources and potential or an opportunity to gain something useful still?

Strive for the latter!

Your initial reflex will probably be to start “hunting” the replacements and forget about the soon-to-be-ex employees. If you do that, you’ll miss out on the incredible chance to learn and grow, no matter the terms on which they’re leaving. 

Just like hiring, leaving the company should be more personal and attentive:

  • Dedicating more attention to departing staff members can help with negative feelings and improve their final impression in case they get fired or are unsatisfied. When they voice their frustrations, listen, and remember not to repeat your mistakes in the future.
  • Ex-employees leaving without hard feelings can vouch and advocate for you and say your name in a room where it matters.
  • You might need them again, or they might need you — maintaining a good professional relationship makes sense.
  • It gets to the point fast. You can omit the expensive research and guessing; just ask people direct questions.

It’s not all about paperwork. Dumping the whole work on admin workers without even saying goodbye is an amateur move.

Pros do it differently. ⬇️

Employee Termination Management - The Best Practices

Treat it as a normal part of the employee lifecycle

If they’re handing over their resignation letters just as the tough times are approaching, you might be angry and on the verge of lashing out. It might help you feel better (or embarrassed) temporarily, but it won’t help your case or make them change their mind about leaving.

Keep your composure and treat their resignation as another day at work — because it is just that.

Maintain workplace morale

Multiple employees quitting simultaneously or resigning snowballing without control look alarming to those not considering leaving.

That’s why it’s important to remain calm, professional, and transparent. Otherwise, the remaining staff may panic and seek other job opportunities. 

You should address the employee departures as soon as possible to prevent the office rumors from spreading. Assure the remaining staff they’re not next and that you’ll do your best to handle the situation fairly.

Announce employee departure with tact

You may opt for company-wide email, a message to their team members only, or hold a special meeting and a toast to your departing team members.

Whatever you opt for, discuss it with the employees who have resigned first. Also, make sure their decision is final and that the resignations are set in motion.

Employee departure announcements should contain:

  • The departure statement itself and the reason they’re leaving the company;
  • A note about their good work and contributions to the workplace;
  • The plan you have put together regarding their absence and how it will reflect on the others;
  • Kind wishes for their future career.

Ask the important questions

Some diplomacy is in order, but honest communication can only benefit both sides.

Dedicate some time and your undivided attention to their exit interview and provide communication channels they can use after giving their notice. 

Here are some suggestions:

This is also the right time to offer your recommendations that will help them get hired again — if you are so inclined. 

Good to know: 5 Questions To Ask Your Team Every Month 

Be mindful of adapting and transition 

A notice period usually lasts about two weeks — use it to:

  • Bring the departing staff’s tasks to completion so it’s done by the time they leave;
  • Ask them to create documentation and directions for their successors or the coworkers that will be taking their workload for a while;
  • Slowly decrease their workload and responsibilities — learn how to function without them;
  • Temporarily divert their future tasks to their coworkers, but ensure you’re not assigning them too much!
  • Commence the hiring process, or look for their replacement internally if someone’s available for promotion or able/ willing to take over their role;
  • Get all the legal and paperwork done. 

How Mercu Fits In

There are many ways to improve employee engagement and retention, but the reality is that it is a lot of work - so it pays off to invest in a dynamic solution..

Assessing each departure individually sounds counter-intuitive to this advice, and almost impossible in the deskless ecosystem. So many workers, so little time, and we always lack more time, right?

Not really!

Mercu can help you assess employee departures at the individual level without turning it into a chore.

It is a wonderfully simple platform that builds into WhatsApp or other chat application of your choice and handles the whole employee lifecycle, from hiring to departure.

In regards to employee departures, you can use its lightweight, engaging features to:

  • Schedule exit interviews;
  • Create and send employee surveys, questionnaires, and exit interview questions;
  • Collect workforce insights and analyse data to put two and two together - finding out why they’re leaving in the first place;
  • Share departure announcements and other important notices, exit documents, etc;
  • Say goodbye properly, even if you’re too far for a handshake.

There’s more to love — schedule a demo, and we’ll show you around in no time!

A high-volume hiring experience that your recruiters and candidates will thank you for.

Mercu Hire automates repetitive and time-consuming tasks when hiring frontline staff: Interview scheduling, interview reminders, and candidate questions. All while delivering the most engaging candidate experience available on the market.