How does your company say goodbye? Is it a formalized program? Left to the manager’s discretion? Do you pass the buck to HR and think all is done with an exit interview?
I don’t think visiting HR and having a post employment interview is a good-bye. Not for the employee, to them, it’s process. Many times they’re not tight with HR, haven’t been in the trenches and seen the highs and lows of work in your company. And while many employees look forward to the exit interview as an opportunity to finally weigh in with direct feedback, others simply tow the line because they’re not interested in upsetting the apple cart. But for those seeking a true voice, it’s not a good-bye.
I recently had a friend resign her job with a large local employer after 23 years of service. When she resigned, she offered a month’s notice and the company asked her to stretch to 6 weeks. I had strongly discouraged her from doing anything more than the standard two and that she was being incredibly generous by offering four. This friend of mine was a solid performer, and on her last day, there was nothing. No card, no fond farewell. To get closure, she needed to make the rounds to her managers and drop in. If she hadn’t, there would have been nothing. And mind you, she did provide their 6 weeks notice – at the very least a thank you was in order.
From my perspective as a recruiter and more importantly, from an engagement perspective, the goodbye is as important as the hello. Am I advocating the recruiters take on the good bye process? Maybe. I’d be happy to do it as a matter of fact, maybe I could better see the boomerang potential. I would like Hiring Managers to see the potential too. It is so important to take the time to say good-bye and get closure, even with those employees that you are happy to see leave.
Not everyone needs the big party, but here are things departing employees need to have closure on to move forward:
Recognition – whether the employee has been there 1 year or 25, it’s incredibly important to acknowledge their service, and thank them for it. Highlight achievements, team contributions and strengths. Say thank you. If you do this well, your former employee will always be accessible, and eager to engage.
Celebrate – your employee is moving on, to a role that they think is amazing. Whether the reason be career growth, or financial rewards, or shorter commute, they’ve found a win for them. Congratulate! Be thrilled for them and wish them well.
Leave the Door Open – so often employees think the grass is greener and don’t realize what they have. But they may want to return in the future, and their former experience, and knowledge of the company, is valuable.
In the end, how you say good-bye has the potential for you to say hello again. Creating a positive experience is in every company’s best interest to re-attract knowledgeable workers as we continue to compete for talent.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.