Key Component To Talent Strategy: A Proper Goodbye

Dawn Burke Dawn Burke, Employee Engagement, employee experience, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR, Onboarding, Talent Strategy

The HR space talks about talent acquisition a lot.

How to attract candidates, how to source candidates, how to make the candidate experience exceptional. Just venturing a guess, but perhaps 70%, maybe 80%, of HR technology focuses on these very things.

As an HR practitioner, I believe there is something that corporate leaders, managers, HR pros, and recruiters neglect: A proper goodbye. This is for candidates, of course (i.e., disqualifying them for a role), but more importantly, saying goodbye to employees when it is time for them to leave.

I have a personal story. In 2000 I started my first HR job and worked there for 10 years. For the record, this company was extremely good to me. They gave me my first shot in the industry as an HR administrative assistant. When I left I was the HR Director. Some would say my time there was career defining. I was given opportunities to learn, to fail, and to achieve. I made lasting friends, had mentors at all levels, and frankly, I had a damn good time.

However, when I quit, all went radio silent.

I’ll never forget my last day. After a robust career full of energy and achievement, I left with a whimper. Really–no goodbyes, no group hug. I just kinda left. That has always stuck with me for better or for worse.

Although I think there was some frustration in my leaving, I know those weren’t the primary factors that led to the silence. Mainly, I think fellow employees had to focus energy elsewhere. Perhaps their priority was figuring how to disseminate my work. Maybe they moved on since I wasn’t part of the team anymore, or they were just straight up too busy to remember I was leaving.

But the goodbye wasn’t satisfying, and that impacted me. I’ve seen this same pattern in other companies, usually perpetrated by great people who just forget.

I don’t know how to solve this, but here’s some food for thought:

  • Perhaps HR tech startups need to think outside of “acquisition” technology and focus on disrupting other HR pain points.
  • Perhaps all folks who leave should be sent a thank you package to their home after they’ve left.
  • Perhaps leaders should be held to a standard of measurement regarding off-boarding.
  • Perhaps cultural norms need to change; terminated employees (unless fired for something egregious) shouldn’t be viewed as a pariah.

So back to why this is a huge component to talent acquisition.

The halo/horn effect is alive and well. If the goodbye isn’t satisfying to folks who leave, they will tell others. That certainly doesn’t help public perception or recruiting strategy.

How are the goodbyes at your company?