Losing an employee for any reason can have a negative impact on how your business is run, but this is especially true if that employee has been with you for a long time. Their knowledge of the position and intricate method of getting the job done are invaluable, and it can set productivity back pretty significantly if your “off-boarding” process isn’t very refined. Even if your retention plan is top notch, your employees will leave at one point or another; there’s no evading that. All you can do is ensure you’re following the correct steps over their final weeks to procure every bit of knowledge about the job from them as possible.
Encourage Team Learning
Have all employees within each department spend some time learning a little about their colleague's jobs. Obviously, you can’t expect everybody to know how to do their own jobs and somebody else’s, but the less-experienced employees should observe those members of the team who are highly skilled in their field. If one of your expert employees decides to leave, you want to know that the others in their department can at least cover the bare minimum necessities of the vacant job. There’s also a chance one of the lower-level employees could become a replacement for the one who leaves, thus saving you from the hiring process.
Maintain a Healthy Relationship
It’s important that the person leaving your organization doesn’t feel guilty or shunned for it. Whatever their reason, it’s your job to respect it and learn from it. Holding an exit interview is a great way to find out exactly why they decided to leave. This might be uncomfortable and could target you personally at times, but by maintaining a respectful approach and keeping an open mind, you can ensure they will walk away saying positive things about you and your business.
Talk to the Employee
In addition to the exit interview, maintain a dialogue with the employee during their final weeks and days with you. If it’s not possible to have them personally train their replacement, have them train others in the department on certain aspects of the job. If they have certain “go-to” people in the company for questions, comments, and concerns, who are they? When the time comes, introduce the replacement to these people and make sure he or she has access to the same resources as their predecessor.
Keep in mind that the replacement will have a variety of strengths and weaknesses that differ from your old employee. Encourage them to find ways to customize the job so it caters to their unique skillset. Just because the previous employee excelled at the job by doing it a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the only way to get it done. Take advantage of the fresh set of eyes you brought into the department and make an effort to learn from them as much as they are learning from you.