When a new recruit joins your company you throw open your arms and welcome them inside. You understand how important it is for them to settle in as quickly as possible and feel comfortable in their new working environment. After all, recruitment can be expensive, so you don’t want them pulling a Houdini on you in their first week. Likewise it is often traditional to celebrate the departure of an employee moving onto green pastures. But why, they are leaving you!? Where is their loyalty? Forfeiting an asset that you have nurtured and groomed is a loss for the company. But are you really celebrating their departure, or are you rewarding them for their contributions to the company?

No matter what your business, it is inevitable that employees will come and go, some after six months, others after 30 years. And there will be a multitude of reasons why; retirement, poor cultural fit, lifestyle change, career development, higher salary, a more innovative company. When an employee leaves it is your opportunity to assess if your company is providing enough opportunities and incentives to retain workers. A simple exit interview will help you to understand your employee offering better, and where the perceived limits are for employees in terms of their development with you. It could help your business to flourish in a new direction. So find the positives in the resignation.

Now when an employee does walk into your office and asks, “Do you have a minute?” while closing the office door behind them, and you inevitably leap to the conclusion that a resignation is about to be handed over, your initial reaction will be very important. An employee who leaves the business with the right attitude can be a great resource for you in the future. It is also vital that remaining employees see how they will be treated if they ever choose to move on.

The departure is generally marked with a celebration of a sort, lunch at a nice restaurant, morning tea with the workforce and the MD giving a thank-you-for-your-service speech, or something a little quieter for those not seeking the spotlight. It is an occasion to honour your employee’s successes and wish them well as they embark on a new chapter in their life. You may even want to give them a gift to remember you by.

Every celebration demonstrates to employees, not just those departing, that you value their hard work. And morale is boosted as a result. But let’s take a moment to consider the lack of a farewell speech, no cutting of a cake, no gift, just a long standing employee whimpering out of the office because their boss could not care less that their face will not be seen in the office come Monday. While fellow team members may show up their senior corporates with after work send-off drinks, the damage has been done. And it is wide spread. A cold corporate attitude is now reflected in the bitter faces of those left witness to their fate of one day being treated as an expendable commodity.

For those that view the employment relationship as permanent will soon get a rude shock. The business environment is dynamic and shifts quickly. Employee relationships move just as swiftly. Yet no matter how short ones service, even the most informal of celebrations will keep spirits high across the workforce.  The rare manager that fosters a development culture in the expectation that they are tutoring their subordinates to someday succeed them will celebrate many farewells. And while a chance to reinforce company values, celebrating one leaving the nest can remind staff that change is inevitable, but that staff are not simply an article of trade, they are an important part of the social fabric that helps the business to grow and succeed. How do you celebrate your employees service to you?

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