top employee resigns

What To Do When One Of Your Top Employees Resigns

top employee resigns

Every company will have to face the reality of losing top staff at some point or another. This is just an inevitable part of the working world. While it is disappointing to receive that letter of resignation from a talented employee, don’t despair; it’s not the end of the world. There are a number of things that you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible for you, your soon-to be-former employee and your team.


Don’t overreact

While it’s not the news you want to hear, there’s no point in flying off the handle when you receive word of a trusted employee’s intention to leave. It’s not the end of the world. These things happen and you now need to focus on moving forward without the employee.


Face to face meeting

Sit down with the employee and try to find out as much as possible about their reasons for seeking a move. Maybe there are only a few minor issues, which can be ironed out. A lot can be learned from such a meeting. If there are specific aspects of their role that they are unhappy with then it is useful to know about them so you can implement changes if necessary. More often than not though, people change jobs as they feel that the new position represents a better career opportunity. You may not agree with them but you should always wish them well and move on.


Remain on good terms

An important employee handing in their notice can come as a bolt from the blue. However it’s better for everyone if you accept it gracefully and wish them well in their future career. This will reflect well on you not only with the employee in question but with the rest of your staff also. If a star member leaves on good terms he/she should at the very least speak well of you and who knows, may even come back to the company one day.


Assess how you’ll replace departing staff

The temptation with many companies is to get the soon to be vacant position advertised ASAP. This can be a mistake however. Don’t rush into it. Reassess the original job specification. Has the position changed in the time that the outgoing employee held it? Discuss this with the employee and make sure you have a clear picture of the ideal candidate to fill the role. This should give you every chance of getting the best person for the job.


Oversee a transition phase

When the employee leaves, you will more than likely have other staff picking up extra duties and filling in for them until the position is filled with a new hire. It’s vital that the outgoing employee sits down with the person or people who will be doing this and goes through all the tasks and responsibilities that the role entails. You do not want a situation where an employee leaves, taking valuable know how and expertise with them. This needs to be transferred to staff that will be covering the role before it’s permanently filled.



You can only judge each situation on its merits but be wary of making counter-offers to employees in the hope of getting them to stay. Generally people want to go because they see the other job as providing new opportunities and challenges. Offering more money or extra responsibility may not be enough to appease someone who wants a change. Even if they do accept, will their heart really be in the job and will they be looking for a move again a few months down the line. Also, if they do accept, how will their improved terms go down with their colleagues?


Losing a top employee is not something that any organisation wants to be faced with. Although undesirable it is not necessarily a disaster. People move on and so do companies. If the situation is handled correctly the departure shouldn’t affect the organisation too much in the long run. Good staff will usually work out their notice period in a professional and productive manner and if they leave on good terms they might even return in the future.

Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 7 December 2017

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