Thursday, April 25, 2013

When Employees Leave, Don't Take It Personally

This post is part of a series on how to improve morale (and the bottom line) in your company at little or no cost.

“I think sometimes it is more important to be gracious than to win.” -Dorothy Kilgallen

These days it’s rare for an employee to spend their entire career with one employer.  Employees leave for a variety reasons and not all of them have to do with you, so when they give notice, leave your ego in your desk drawer.  Another business may offer them a higher salary, more responsibility, a job more in line with their passions, etc.  As long as you are doing your best to keep morale high, there is no point in obsessing over employees who choose to leave.

When an employee gives you notice of their intent to leave your company, don’t take it personally.  Don’t get upset.

Congratulate them.  Let them know that you’re happy for their new opportunity and wish them well.  And be sincere about it.

Their decision may put you in a bind.  It means you’ll have to train someone new to do their job, if you haven’t already.  It might mean that you need to pick up the extra slack for awhile.  But, getting upset or complaining about it won’t do you, or your other employees any good.

What will be the reaction of your other employees if you start bad-mouthing the person who’s leaving, just because they chose another opportunity?  They’ll wonder what you really think of them.  They’ll question whether or not you sincerely care about them and may wonder what you’d say about them if they found a new job.  Odds are, the employee who just gave notice will have friends among your employees and they will hear about what you say about them.  Ultimately, it may damage your ability to recruit new talent.⁠1

The employee who just left may someday return, armed with new knowledge and skills and be in a position to help your business even more.  If you’ve talked poorly about them, they may never return.  Or, your employee may ascend the corporate ladder quickly at a new company and you may one day be looking to them to hire you.

Be gracious and sincere and offer them whatever help you’re able to give them.  The employee who’s leaving will remember that and those who are staying will respect you.


  1. Fantastic blog. It sounds like this store needs a lot of help. Can't wait for your new book. Thanks for the comments.