How to deal with Resignations and Exit Interviews

How to deal with Resignations and Exit Interviews

In the HR world we deal with resignations regularly, reasons can vary and over the years I personally have heard some very inventive resignations which are true and in some cases bizarre and whilst most people do leave on good terms there may be occasions where they choose take a different approach and “leave in style”, this can have a damaging effect on your business and you personally.

There are many examples, ranging from funny, ones that cause public humiliation and the extremities that are offensive, I am not saying these are everyday occurrences, but they do happen.


HR can be an odd area and people are tricky especially when they are leaving, so just how can you deal with their resignations, in our latest news we can offer you practical advice, hints and tips to prevent your people resigning in the wrong way and how you can make things a little easier to deal with.


Resignation Acknowledgements

When your Employee has taken the decision to leave you, it can be upsetting, you may feel let down, frustrated and disappointed, let’s face it, time and money has been invested in not just the recruitment you invested in previously but now you will have to get back on the hunt again!!! you will have spent money training and developing them in their role and why to let someone else reap the benefits.


All too often it is a knee jerk reaction that can swing things in the final weeks, it really is worth noting how you react can affect how they react.

By being professional, calm and taking the time to understand them will go a long way, this is not just about you, it can be brand damaging, you don’t want damaging reviews left on employee review websites this may discourage prospective candidates from applying to you in the future.

Inevitably you cannot prevent them resigning nor refuse their resignation but please do have the initial conversation.


Does it matter  – Verbal vs Written Resignations?

A common question, your Employee may initially resign during a conversation with another person or yourself and at this stage you can request their resignation in writing. It is worth noting that this should be added into your Employees’ contract.


Hopefully, nothing more damaging has happened to instigate the resignation, but what when something is wrong, what can, or do you do then???

To answer this in more detail, let’s say your they quit their job and they are unhappy or the situation is a little heated; this may then be classified as “in the heat of the moment” as once they have calmed down they may then say they did not resign.

Now perhaps, let’s say you do not agree to this and hold them to the resignation they could turn the tables on you – they could therefore bring a claim potentially to a tribunal for constructive dismissal.

In the instance of an unhappy Employee or when things do get heated always ensure you do get a letter of resignation.


How do you respond to a resignation?

You should always respond to resignations by letter to your Employee, we advise you do so as soon as practicably possible, you should include as a minimum:


  • Your letter should be on headed notepaper
  • Addressed to the individual
  • Dated
  • The subject should include the reference of the resignation and date received
  • You should state that you acknowledge and accept their resignation
  • Inform them of their last working day
  • Confirm their notice period, pay dates, holiday payments etc
  • Confirm their P45 will be sent to them
  • You should add in any additional details such as clauses contractual or non-contractual that you need to bring to their attention
  • Thank them for their service


Your internal policy should indicate how you send the correspondence, most employees are happy to receive by Email, with a copy sent in the post, we would advise sending your post by recorded delivery.


It is worth noting at this stage if they have at any stage left “in the heat of the moment” or indicate they are unhappy it is advisable to afford them the right to air their views, you can do this by informing them of your grievance policy, you would include the details of this and set it out clearly on their resignation acknowledgment letter.


What about notice periods?

There are different types of notice periods, most Employees will happily work their notice period, below are the two types:

  • Statutory notice is the minimum legal notice period that is required. Your Employee needs to be with you more than one month to qualify for this, the notice period after that would be one week by either party.
  • Contractual notice is not a legal requirement it is an agreed notice period in a contract of employment, this may exceed the statutory requirements, you would need to ensure you have checked prior to confirming to them any agreed notice periods.


What if they leave and do not work any notice?


You may also have an Employee who resigns who does not provide you with any notice, this is called “resigning with immediate effect”, in this instance you do not need to pay the statutory notice period but it is worth checking their contract to ensure any non-contractual notice period is also not payable.


Are we done here?

I have a real dislike of the statement above, probably because I did once need to say it to an Employer of mine who was extremely toxic!!!

To allow an Employee to either work through a notice period being unhappy, disillusioned and or maybe wanting to express their opinions is not doing either party any favours. It can be a breeding ground for low morale and ultimately affect the productivity of your entire team.


By not facing up to things and opening up a dialogue can also be brand damaging and can have a lasting impact on your reputation.

To lose an Employee whom you do not want to leave or let’s face it one that you do, when all is said and done it is an ideal opportunity to learn from this experience; it will benefit your business and you in the long run.

It will also hopefully dissuade the Employee from broadcasting brand damaging comments about you and then they can leave on good terms.



One of the best ways to do this is by conducting Exit Interviews

From personal experience working as an Employee, you should not wait until they are leaving to conduct the meetings, Exit Meetings should be at the very start, this is for so many reasons, here are just a few:

  • It keeps your morale upbeat in the business
  • It can assist in airing any issues before they leave
  • You can gain an understanding why things may be wrong and fix them
  • If you do want to retain them, this could be the opportunity
  • You can make future improvements in your business


We suggest the Exit Meetings are held by an impartial person, it should not be the Line Manger; it needs to provide the opportunity to be open and honest feedback.

It may be useful to conduct the meeting over the telephone or somewhere impartial, this may help them to open up, negative comments should be captured along with positive ones.


Feedback should be sought, and the meeting should be an opportunity to celebrate the Employees contributions to the business.


Next steps? 

We always advise using a standard process with any Exit Meeting forms and the way in which you conduct these to ensure you are taking a fair and consistent approach.

If you need any help or have any other questions, please get in touch we are more than happy to help.


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