Resigning Yourself to Losing Employees

SPB Blog Resigning Yourself

If you’re a business owner with employees, you’ve had it happen…or you WILL have it happen…an employee moves, gets a better offer, or has some life change that necessitates them resigning their position with your company. Whether they are the most valuable team member or not, it still presents a challenge to you and the company…and an opportunity for the company to be very professional in how the resignation is handled.

Unorthodox Resignations

What prompted us to talk about this at the beginning was a question that was received by the Gusto HR Support Center. An employee had emailed their supervisor to say if they did not get a raise, the email was to serve as a resignation notice. They were specifically wondering how to formally accept this email as a resignation. It does point out that recent times have led to new and different ways to slip out the door.

Sometimes they don’t even quite get in the door, for that matter. Recently a local business worked at hiring a new general manager to replace one that was being promoted. They interviewed several candidates and hired the best one…only for him to call up two days before he was supposed to start to say he wasn’t going to be taking the job after all because his current job had given him a raise. In either case, it seems like commitment to jobs isn’t what it used to be.

Clean and Consistent

Whether an employee resigns with a formal printed letter, an email, or a text message, your business needs to have a consistent and logical system for handling it. Make it clear and concise, not targeted to a single employee or situation.

Create a packet of information outlining what happens next. Is there a severance package? Give the employee a place to give a forwarding address where you can send them a final paycheck, as well as the necessary tax forms that you’ll be sending after the calendar year is over. 


The first part of accepting the resignation should be an acknowledgement that the employee has willingly resigned their position. Some employees will inform you of what their last day of availability will be…but you are not bound by that. In some cases, you may want them to work out a proper transition time (two weeks used to be fairly standard), but in other cases, it’s better to have them out the door immediately. They may say “I will be here until September 30,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn back around and say, “this is effective immediately.”

If the employee is someone who has added value to your company, it’s a really good time to acknowledge that reality, too. Tell them they are appreciated for everything they’ve done for the organization and wish them well on their future endeavors…or, conversely, if you can’t imagine the company going forward without them, it’s the perfect time to draft a counteroffer and incentive to stay with the company.

Staying Professional

If the circumstances of the resignation aren’t the best, keeping everything professional may be challenging, but your reputation…and your company’s!!!…might depend on it. Keep resignation acceptance letters brief and to the point. Proofread them thoroughly, getting others to help with that task if necessary. Always use format and professional language, even if you are sending the letter via email.

Never accept the resignation via text, even if the employee resigns that way. No one likes to be broken up with via text…it’s mean in personal relationships and unprofessional in business.

Lock Out

When an employee is actually done with their job, whether the separation is after a two week notice or immediate, make sure to protect confidential business information. Change passwords on laptops and email accounts. Collect keys and corporate credit cards. Have the IT department lock them out of any access to company systems.

If they have signed a non-compete agreement when they were hired, review the document with the employee before they are out the door. That way they are aware of their limitations in contacting clients or talking about privileged company information.

Customize For Your Company

Like almost everything in business today, there is no “one size fits all” solution to resignations. What we’ve given above are a few tips and advice on how to stay professional…but there are a lot of things we didn’t touch on. You have to fill in the blanks yourself…and change up anything here that doesn’t exactly fit your company’s style or mission.

Resigning Yourself to Losing Employees