Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Employee Exit Strategy

employee exit

Employee Exit Isn't the Last Step

Sometimes, an employee's exit is the best thing for everyone involved, but ultimately it’s important to realize that it's everyone’s final play. Whether you’re fired, or you leave, or your company closes, your last day is the day you exit.

But a lot of organizations – especially if they’re very large organizations – look at employees only from the moment they join the organizational family to the moment they exit. And after they exit, their existence isn’t acknowledged anymore.

In the case of every group of people that has been in my company, friendships are formed, bonds are made, and people continue to engage and work with each other even after they no longer work here. Sometimes I’ve been a part of that equation, and sometimes I haven’t. And when I haven’t, I have remorse that I wasn’t able to maintain those relationships, because invariably, running your business and managing your life gets in the way of those relationships.

And I know that if this is my experience as a boutique owner, there’s no way large organizations can do it without making each employee’s time there a process from Day One. So it becomes very programmatic, and HR ticks off the employee’s career in the organization in stages: this is your onboarding, this is your first ninety days, this is your first three years, etcetera, etcetera, until finally, this is your exit.

The Reality of Employee Exit

But despite the fact that the employee exit process almost has to be whittled down to a process doesn’t mean that organizations can’t start being real with their employees about their eventual exit, and helping them plan for it and their career move afterward.

There are three main reasons employees exit organizations:

  1. They choose to exit to pursue some outside opportunity or responsibility
  2. They’re let go because they did something wrong, the organization can no longer afford them, or what they do in the organization is no longer necessary
  3. The economic climate changes forcing the organization to change, restructure, or close.
Employee exit happens everywhere. No matter how we plan, no matter if we choose exit or someone chooses exit for us, we can’t avoid it.

But here’s the thing: in business, leaders are taught to be constantly thinking of our exit strategy. We’re asked what our exit strategy is all the time. We understand and accept that we must always have an exit strategy, and we know what the exit strategy for the shareholder is – so why don’t we pass that way of thinking to our employees, and help them develop the employee exit strategy?  

So what does this mean for the way organizations look at their employees’ careers?

It means being realistic about life, acknowledging that someday your employees will leave, and looking at how you can develop a relationship that’s positive for their careers as a whole. And when their exit comes, hopefully under the best of circumstances, they’ll be prepared for their next career move, and you as an organization will feel good about their contribution.

Why would organizations not want that? What’s the downside?

This is an easy one. Be real with people – they just want to know what they’re in for.

Learn more about Insala's career transition solutions.

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