A warm goodbye is essential for both the enterprise and the employee.

The recent New York Times story on Amazon’s workforce practices stirred a debate. Is Amazon the tough task master burning employees to the ground or is it a great workplace that nurtures talent?

As the debate continues (on social media platforms, among other places), what struck us was that a lot of the inputs for that story came from former Amazon employees. Their words created images of people crying at their desks and being pushed beyond limits to deliver results.

Disgruntled ex-employees, cried the company’s supporters. The idea was that these former employees couldn’t succeed and were therefore voicing their dissatisfaction with the company’s ways.

Sour grapes or not, that’s another debate. The story reiterates what we know. Employees are a company’s brand ambassadors; even ex-employees are. How people get treated when they work with you matters. How they get treated when they are about to leave matters too. For, those last-moment impressions could turn into lasting ones, eclipsing a lot of the in-between times. Ultimately, these impressions could colour their views about your company and determine what they say about it.

Here’s how you can manage those last moments, the notice periods and goodbyes, making it a friendly and smooth process for everyone involved. (We assume that by this stage, you’d have tried to address the employee’s grievances, if any, and explored retention options.)

  • Conduct an amicable but professional exit interview, where your employee can offer honest feedback about the company. If possible, route back to him or her about how you plan to address the concerns raised. That shows your commitment to address valid issues affecting employees.
  • Make the off-boarding process simple. Pay as much attention to off-boarding as you do to on-boarding. Plan and set dates for handing over of documents, knowledge transfer, etc., so that there are no loose ends.
  • Keep the vibe friendly. Maintain cordiality with your employee, even if he or she is leaving on a dissenting note. Avoid making contentious statements and remove any room for arguments.
  • Give credit where credit is due. The person leaving could be your star performer, and his or her departure at this critical time could create a vacuum in your company. Do not let these worries prevent you from wholeheartedly acknowledging the employee’s contributions. Formal departure announcements, cafeteria meetings – talk about how awesome your employee has been.
  • Sign-off on a warm note. Host a memorable farewell if circumstances permit. Get all key team members to be part of it. Celebrate your exiting employee’s contributions to the company thus far and wish him or her well for the future.

This way, you keep the door open for those who might want to come back and ensure that people leave with a positive impression about your company.

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