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Resignations and Retirements – It’s all about your current staff!

If your company is like most, you probably have people that have resigned and people that have retired – for sure the former. The people that have resigned from your company probably run the gamut from someone who didn’t even make it through their probationary period to those that have worked for your company for 5, 10, 15+ years before deciding to move onto another challenge. Many of your retirees have worked their entire career with your company (rarer and rarer) or perhaps concluded the last several years of their career with your organization. Regardless of the specifics, when resignations and retirements occur, organizations must be very careful about tRespectheir “response” or “reaction” to these departures.

For resignations, I have seen responses vary. At the low end, I have seen companies do absolutely nothing. It is like there was barely a ripple in the force. The employee works their notice period and then is on their way. Some companies, at the very least, make some sort of announcement and thank the person that is leaving and wish them well. At the other end of the spectrum, some organizations, (for an employee that has been with the company for a long time and/or made a huge contribution to its success) throw farewell parties, have a social gathering or potlucks, present them with a gift and wish the person well.

I have seen the same type of responses applied to retirements as well. That is, often it is a barely a ripple, all the way to a huge send off. The important thing for you as HR Pros, and your organizational leaders, to understand is that your employees are watching you. Let me be very clear, the resignation/retirement parties and send offs are NOT about the people leaving your company, they are all about the employees that are still there. Sure, there is some element of thanks and appreciation and genuine goodwill involved towards the person leaving, but let’s be honest, they will be gone and out of sight/mind within weeks. No, the organizational response is all about the folks that are still working at your company.

Believe me when I tell you that your employees will very closely watch the response from the leadership/management team when Joe in accounting, who has been with ACME Industries for 28 years, puts in this retirement notice. Or when Susan from your I.T. group, who has worked nights and weekends to fix numerous networks issues and was a true superstar, puts in her two weeks’ notice. Your staff will be watching for the organization response. Were they truly valued, or are they just viewed as a replaceable cog in the wheel?

If employees, like those in the example, are either not acknowledged or simply treated with a casual announcement, the message to your employees is that they are not important, easily replaced and not worth any effort. If a proper sendoff isn’t in order, the lack of respect will be seen by your staff and they will realize that they are simply not an important part of your company. Just as important, if you do have a proper send off for someone, but the department and/or organizational head doesn’t appear and/or say a few words about the departing person, well THAT message will be heard loud and clear by the current staff – you can bank on it.

Bottom line, resignations and retirements are all about the staff that is still there. You need to send the message that they are valued, respected and that their contributions to the company are important. If you want to have high levels of retention/low turnover and high employee engagement/satisfaction, than be mindful of your retirement/resignation responses…..they are important pieces of your organizational DNA.
What about you? Do you agree/disagree that these responses are important? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of PinkBlue/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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