Quick Tips to end professional relationships in a human way

Quick Tips to end professional relationships in a human way

No matter how big or small your business is, when managing a team of people, sooner or later you are faced with a situation where one of your employees decides to leave, or you need to let them go.  There can be a variety of reasons why employees decide to leave their job, especially in a candidate-driven market. From finding or being offered a better opportunity, career growth opportunities, or they might have decided to pursue their lifelong dreams. Sometimes you can’t predict or control why or when an employee wants to leave, but what you can control is how you react to it.

Voluntary or involuntary employee turnover is nothing new, and nowadays, we’ve been facing this phenomenon more and more, talent retention is a major priority for companies HR objectives. According to ‘’A study from Microsoft recently found that 41% of the global workforce is considering leaving their job in the next year….Our data shows that 20% of Millennials in Western Europe quit their jobs in the past year…Our data shows that a full 40% of employed young Europeans plan to leave their current job in the next year, and 33% say that even though they like their job, they’d leave it if a better one came along.’’ (Source

The dissolution of any relationship can generate a mix of emotions for both parties; the employer and the employee. From the employer’s side, there is a feeling of disappointment, or even blame and stress because of how it could impact the team and they could not anticipate this decision. From the employee’s side, there can be a mix of joy, fear, envy, and sadness, which are the most common emotions faced by employees when leaving a company.

When dealing with this kind of situation, there are a couple of actions that need to be anticipated according to the varied scenarios that might come up; either termination or resignation, but the right thing to do as an employer is to always be prepared.

How to identify signs of an employee that is struggling:  

  There are many signs and reasons that could help you spot an employee that is struggling. 

  • Appearing more unkempt than usual.
  • Lacking engagement and concentration and losing enthusiasm in the daily tasks and mission.
  • Changing their usual habits such as not eating lunch or avoiding being around other people. Their mood, behavior, and humor are erratic.
  • Taking more sick days or having sleepless nights. 
  • Procrastinating or not respecting deadlines.
  • Showing less interest in working with clients – customers or colleagues. 
  • Willing less to commit to a long-term project with the company and the team. 

What may influence them to leave a job

How to let someone go the right way and deal with them in a human way when your professional relationships ends  

Receiving a resignation letter or having to fire someone has never been an easy task, and how the situation is dealt with is sometimes determined by certain circumstances and consequences. Whatever situation occurs, it’s fundamental to understand the importance of the “off-boarding” and each step of the process needs to be followed and respected. 

Here are our tips, divided into three scenarios: 

 Termination of the contract by the employer  

In this section we are excluding dismissals (serious professional misconduct) because we want to go in depth on this topic in another article. Here we are talking about being human,  more specifically addressing the moment a project ends, a loss of the company’s license, pandemic situation, or your employee doesn’t pass the probationary period.  

  • Before making the decision of firing someone, check solutions internally, and make sure you have considered all alternative options such as assigning them to another internal position first.
  • Depending on whether the employee is still completing their probationary period or whether it is after the probationary period, make sure that the decision doesn’t come up as a surprise. 
  • Make your firing process as ethical as possible, appropriate and legal, and Inform HR, so the firing process can be prepared accordingly and in a timely fashion. 
  • Prepare the termination meeting and all the documentation needed. 
  • It’s important that the manager of the employee is present in the firing meeting so that they can provide transparent feedback on why the company has decided to let them go. 
  • Even though you don’t HAVE to give a reason for letting someone go during the probationary period, you should. This could be a great learning experience for them to improve for the future. 
  • Respect the employee’s feelings and preserve their dignity during the whole process. 
  • Give them recommendations and extend your network to them, you never know who they might be one day, and you might have helped them get there. 

Resignation letter by the employee

  • Communication is the key: Don’t be judgmental,  try to understand their decision of resignation. 
  • Be the most empathetic and compassionate possible, try and see things from their perspective. 
  • Try to understand if there is something the company or managers can do to keep them, such as offering a salary raise or other career growth opportunities that can be used to keep and retain them for longer. 
  • During the exit interview, ask questions in order to better understand their decision, and what could have been improved, this could help you avoid the same with future employees.

For both scenarios 

  • Prepare a farewell event for cases where it’s possible.
  • Inform coworkers about the decision in a timely manner.
  • Do some damage control and have an open conversation with the rest of the team to control the impact. 
  • Manage the backlog the employee is leaving behind by creating guidelines for smooth transitions and project transfers ie. handover, divided workload etc. 
  • Work closely with the hiring manager to fill in the position with enthusiasm and dedication.

    Lowering employee turnover remains one of the most challenging tasks for a company. Communication, empathy and organization can all assist you to turn this experience around and can contribute to your brand experience. However, you can always stay ahead of the curve by implementing a few changes that can benefit your team on a long term basis and can assist you in avoiding turnover and keeping your top talent. Have a look at our customizable retention solutions and check out our last article where we take you on a deep dive into retaining your star players here. Alongside some amazing retention solutions, Babel Profiles also provides Leadership Programs, where our certified experts in mentoring, leadership and coaching have proven experience designing tailored programs to empower your team. At the end of the day employee turnover is an inevitable experience all companies go through, however, that does not mean that it needs to be a negative one for either the employee or the employer.

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