#1 Employee Resigns

A good day at the office can suddenly go sour in a hurry when your #1 employee resigns by giving two weeks’ notice. How could this happen? Whether your top worker received a better financial package offer or just needed a change, the small business owner/manager feels abandoned. However, today’s work environment is very transient. Long gone are the days of employees remaining with one organization for 20 or more years. That train has left the station.

Now, after recovering from the shock of this news, it’s time to regroup, get to work and move forward. Your business does not need to close when your #1 employee resigns. Here are some suggestions how to proceed in dealing with this change.

What’s Step #1

So, losing the top employee doesn’t necessarily signal the end of the world. Change is upon the horizon, but the star employee’s resignation should not shut the doors of the business. The small business owner/manager can follow a variety of paths. Some of these roads are bumpy, while others are newly paved. Whatever route selected by owner/manager could result in any of the following outcomes:

  • Congratulate the employee and begin the search process for a new employee.
  • Use your sale skills to persuade the employee to stay.
  • Offer the employee pay and benefits raise.
  • Evaluate why the employee is leaving.
  • Dismiss the employee on the spot irrespective of how much notice the employee gave you.
  • Question the leaving employee’s loyalty with negative comments to the staff.

What’s in the best interest of the business and remaining employees should be leadership’s top priority. “Bad mouthing” the departing employee makes the owner/manager look bad on several fronts. First of all, negative comments reflect poorly on top management’s leadership ability. The remaining employees can only imagine what the owner/manager would say about them. So, in addition to losing a top performing employee, an employee morale problem now surfaces. Now your day has turned from bad to disastrous.

Lessons Learned

Each person has his or her own reasons for leaving an organization. The owner/manager’s job should be to find out why the star employee is leaving. Since employees resign for many different reasons, it is important to find out why the employee is leaving and determine, if possible, how to avoid future key employees from leaving your business. Those reasons may vary from take home pay to flexible work hours. Whatever the cause for leaving, an open line of communication between management and the employee can generate valuable information for the business. There are several methods which can be used to gather this information. A conversation through an exit interview may be the answer.  The departing employee may feel more comfortable talking with a member of the management team who the departing employee did not directly report to.

Possible Change of Mind?

Upon receiving the employee’s resignation, the owner/manager may consider changing the employee’s mind. Depending upon the situation, it may be worthwhile for the owner/manager to follow this route. An increase in pay or a change in hours may be all that’s needed to convince the employee to stay.

However, many times an employee’s decision to leave an organization is based upon more than one factor. Many times, the implemented changes made by management will only satisfy the employee for a short period of time. If an employee is unhappy, no changes will satisfy the employee in the long run. Sometimes it’s better for both parties to move on. A change of scenery may be the ultimate answer for the employee.

What Path to Follow

Therefore, the owner/manager has a choice to make when faced with the fact when your #1 employee resigns. Within reason, try to encourage the employee to remain with the organization. Sometimes the demands to keep the employee are too high. Or, in the future, the owner/manager can try to learn how to avoid a top performing employee from leaving.

Design the Right Work Environment

When it comes to money, benefits, career advancement the odds are stacked against small businesses. They can’t compete with large organizations in those areas, but small businesses can offer its employees more autonomy and flexibility. Therefore, with its recruitment and retention efforts small businesses should focus on job satisfaction. Following this strategy should halt the exodus of top employees from leaving your small business enterprise.

Denis Sweeney