What to Do When Your Best Employee Quits

Employers can do everything they can to increase employee satisfaction and retention and mitigate turnover, but the reality is they can’t prevent top talent from walking out the door for the promise of a better opportunity. That’s why, when your best employee puts in her resignation letter, it’s important to learn and grow from the experience — so you can make the most of a less-than-ideal circumstance and place yourself in a better position in the future.

best employee quits

Try To Convince The Employee To Stay

Counter-offers may not always be warranted or effective especially if the person’s mind is made up, but it’s worth a shot if it’s an employee you’ll have a particularly difficult time replacing. Perhaps the employee felt the pasture was greener on the other side because of better compensation, increased responsibilities, a different title, or something similar that is within your purview to control or change.

Wish The Employee Well And Offer Your Support In The Future

Hopefully your best employee is leaving for a better opportunity, and not because of negative circumstances (a bad boss, poor company culture, etc.). If you can’t convince her to stay, then graciously wish her well, acknowledge that she’s been an important part of your company’s success and offer your support — including the option to list you as a reference — in the future. It may seem like an insignificant step, but it’s crucial to part ways on good terms and this could go a long way toward ensuring the relationship is on firm footing.

Ask The Employee For Referrals

Employers will often have the departing employee create a list or handbook of responsibilities for the role so they can post and fill the opening as soon as possible. In addition to doing this, try a slightly unconventional approach. Ask the employee herself if she knows of any peers or co-workers at former organizations who might be a good fit to undertake her responsibilities. You’d be surprised at how few employers ask this question. After all, who better to know what the role entails and recommend an individual who could easily slide into it than the employee herself.

Conduct An Exit Interview

Some employers think an exit interview is a waste of time, but that’s only true if no action is taken and things remained status quo. However, if you’re serious about holding on to your best people in the future, an exit interview could provide golden nuggets of insight into what you need to pay attention or change lest you’re stuck with a mass exodus on your hands.

Leave The Door Open

Boomerang employees — ones who return to work at the same employer after a period of time — are becoming an increasingly common trend these days. It’s important, in particular for your top performers who leave, to maintain positive relationships so they may one day consider returning to your organization if opportunity allows.

Remember that it is first and foremost important to find out the impetus behind the employee’s decision to leave so you can address issues and close gaps where they exist so your organization can continue to thrive in the future by retaining the best talent.

Deanna Hartley is a prolific writer and editor, having spent the past decade publishing hundreds of print and digital bylines on topics including job search advice, career development, recruitment, HR and human capital management that speak to both job seekers as well as employers/recruiters. Deanna has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, was formerly a senior editor at award-winning publisher Human Capital Media and a senior copywriter at CareerBuilder. She currently works as a content manager at Aon, a global professional services firm. Her articles providing career advice have appeared in a variety of publications, including Gannett’s network of newspapers, Business Insider and Workforce Magazine.

The trusted source for DC's Employers

Sign up and post a job now

Post a job today

Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market