The end of an employee’s lifecycle is not a fun topic. It’s brutal at worst and uncomfortable at best. Whether an employee is leaving due to a new opportunity, a layoff, or getting fired, there are ways you can make the process as positive as possible and help ease any potential pain.
You don’t need to check your LinkedIn feed these days to know that a) this is all too common a discussion point right now; b) there are some companies that have been more humane than others about the way they choose to structure the experience.
Setting Expectations and Alignment
In my experience, no company is immune from this stage of the lifecycle, which is to say that no company retains all of its employees forever. JDM is no different. We’re not making a commitment to lifetime employment, and employees are not expected to make a commitment to stay for their entire career.
That said, we believe the employee/employer relationship should be viewed as a mutual alliance that needs to benefit both parties for as long as it lasts and beyond. Every employee completes an Alliance Agreement within their first month of employment, and we use this agreement to ensure that both the employee and the company stay on track during our working relationship to make each party stronger for the long term.
Celebrating Next Steps
When the time comes for an employee to leave the company on their own terms, we try to make the experience as positive as their onboarding experience. While we’re not sending them welcome goodies like we do at onboarding, we thank them for their contributions to the company, and celebrate their next steps in their career. When employees leave JDM and go on to do great things, it reflects well on the employee and the company.
It’s important to remember giving notice can be a stressful experience for many employees, so we like to try to ease that as much as possible. While it’s ok to express sadness in losing a great colleague, it shouldn’t go further than that. Employees moving on in their career is not a betrayal to the company or something to take personally (remember the expectations set in the previous section?). Managers should never abandon employees after they give notice or burn bridges over it.
We strive to foster an environment for providing feedback in real time. JDM encourages employees to provide this feedback during their: weekly 1:1s, anonymous monthly surveys on different topics, semi-annual reviews, post-review check-ins with People Ops, and annual Employee Check-Ins. Before employees leave we ask for feedback one final time through exit interviews (one with People Ops and one with the CEO). It gives them an opportunity to share what they liked and what they think we can improve on.
Some questions we ask during exit interviews:
- How do you feel about the culture?
- What three things would you change about your job?
- What prompted you to seek alternative employment?
- How was your workload?
- What did you like most about your work here?
- What did you like least about your work here?
- What does your new job offer that this company does not?
- Any suggestions for improvement?
The answers to these questions won’t change the outcome – the employee is still leaving – but it allows the employee to share and it provides us with valuable insights to help identify ways to improve going forward.
And when an employee leaves the company prematurely – because of layoffs, termination, or other circumstances – we offer outplacement coaching as part of their severance package. We want employees to be successful and find a soft landing spot in the next steps of their career.
If they are interested, we connect them with an outplacement coach who will work with them to help identify the right next steps, edit their resume to make them more appealing candidates for their preferred jobs, etc.
We also recently launched the JDM Alumni Network on Slack. All former employees who have expressed an interest in staying connected are invited to join the Alumni network. Our hope is that we can continue to accelerate career growth, and as a group we can help introduce each other to job opportunities, trade insights, and generally stay connected for whatever might pop up.
The Bottom Line
Long story short: the end of an employee’s time at a company is rarely fun. But there are ways (from the hiring process to the first day of the employee’s new job after leaving) to make it better. Even if you don’t have many resources available to offer, taking an empathetic approach and helping where you can makes a world of difference.
Reach out to us on LinkedIn if you want to hear more about our processes!