Recruiters are always on the hunt for great talent so when someone is really good at their job – they are hot property – and there is always the risk of losing them to another employer. There are many strategies that can be put in place to ensure your workforce remain happy and fulfilled in their job but when your best employee resigns, they have probably already been through a long thought process and there’s usually not much you can do about it.

Even if they are off to a competitor and it really does feel like a crisis, it’s crucial that you manage the resignation with respect and due diligence. After all, all employees are completely entitled to exit and work for another company if they wish to do so.  In fact, keeping your cool has never been so important as this is the last impression you will leave with your employee and business industry can be a relatively small place – be gracious and offer assistance. This is also an opportunity to learn and gain feedback to see if there is anything you can change about the established culture or policies in the workplace. Below are a few things to remember to help you react in the best way possible if your best employee resigns:

Always remain professional

People always move on – especially those who make a significant impact in a relatively short amount of time. This type of employee usually likes a big challenge and once they’ve conquered, it’s time for the next one. No matter how hard hit you or your business may feel, it’s important that you keep your cool and remain ultra-professional. Every person, regardless of their seniority level have the right to leave a business under the correct terms. Not only is it important to demonstrate class and competence for the employee resigning but also for your remaining and future employees.

The powers of persuasion

Most of the time, switching jobs is simply down to a better offer elsewhere but occasionally there are underlying issues: perhaps the employee feels they have been mistreated or mismanaged or perhaps they feel they have not been rewarded fairly, either financially or otherwise. Most people discuss issues such as this before turning the book in but it could also come right out of the blue. As their employer, you have every right to find out what their reasons are and if it does have something to do with their salary, the work culture or management, then you may be able to come to a resolution and persuade them to stay put. Regardless of the outcome, this must always be done with patience and professional rigour.

Communicate effectively

Especially if the person is in an authoritative role, effective communication is key. Team morale is at risk of taking a real nose dive when a pivotal person leaves a company. Once a new leader or manager is in place, other employees might feel their jobs are likely to change or move in another direction. The stronger the communication, the better. It is also an opportunity to outwardly thank the resigning employee for all their efforts in their role and how they have positively impacted the company.  

Notice and gardening leave

When any employee resigns, they must always adhere to their employment contract. Have they read their terms and given the correct notice? Depending on their position in the company, some employees are required to give as long as six months’ notice, which, depending on their position could be essential in order to recruit someone else and hand over work processes or clients. Alternatively, some employees, especially if they are moving to a competitor, might be put on Gardening leave which means they do not have to work their notice period but will still be paid.

Restrictive covenants and confidentiality

In addition to notice periods, there can be other restrictions and conditions which have been set out in your employee’s contract. Their contract could stipulate that they can’t actually work for a competitor or that they must wait a certain amount of time before doing so. There could also be rules surrounding the situation with clients and / or poaching employees.

Fill the position internally

If your employee has chosen to leave due to a lack of career development, this could be a good opportunity to respond positively to the resignation. Is there another employee who shows real potential? Showing that you are an employer who actively seeks to develop their staff can do wonders for staff engagement, morale and motivation.