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One of the greatest fears of most managers is receiving a notice of resignation from a star employee – and for good reason. Losing an employee who has made a huge impact on the business, is liked by co-workers and is a joy to work with can cause disarray in the company. And especially when no one foresaw the departure.

The resignation of a star employee is often devastating to the business; even when adequate notice is provided. It will cause disruptions in the workflow making it difficult to meet deadlines and affect the morale of the team. This is in addition to the huge costs of finding a replacement and training them for the position.

Although disorienting, operations still need to go on even after the departure of a highly valued employee. So what should you do when a star employee decides to resign to mitigate the negative effects?

  1. Get the ball rolling. Based on the standard contract, you will usually get about 4 weeks’ of resignation notice. During this time, you should be putting together plans of how the position will be filled. Will you need to hire from outside or are there existing employees who can fit the bill? Create a job description for the position and start looking for possible matches within and outside the organisation. If you choose to recruit from outside, start advertising the job as soon as possible. You can request the departing employee to help you put together the job description and craft the job ad. Putting the ball in motion will help reduce the recruitment lead time and ensure that you fill the vacancy as soon as possible to minimise interruptions.
  2. Work with the resigning employee to craft a replacement strategy. Since the leaving employee knows the most about the position they are leaving, ask them to help you create a replacement strategy for the position. This should include detailed handover notes that cover everything from the how-tos to the details regarding strategies and objectives. You should also ask the leaving employee to review their role and suggest changes that would help make it more effective. This should help make filling the position a bit easier.
  3. Inform the team. When there is no official communication from the administration, rumours always take over. Control the flow of information by announcing the news of the departure as soon as possible. Ideally, the departing employee should be the one to break the news followed by a statement from the management. You’ll need to acknowledge that the situation is regrettable but also provide assurance that there’re plans in place to ensure the business weathers the storm. This should help keep the remaining staff motivated and ease tension.
  4. Show support. Even at this hectic time, it is important that you show full support to the departing employee. They did an excellent job while working for your business, so it’s only fair that you provide support when they decide to move on. Organise a small farewell party to appreciate the work the employee has done and wish them well as they move on. In addition to making the departing employee feel appreciated, it will also help your employees accept and celebrate the situation for faster adjustment.
  5. Conduct the exit interview. It might be too late for this particular employee, but conducting an exit interview will help you gather information that can be used to prevent future employee attrition. Find out the reasons why the employee is leaving and use this information to improve your employee retention strategy.

Losing a star employee is never easy, but if you manage the situation properly, you can ensure that your business comes out unharmed.

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