June 7th 2023
By: Pascale Durivage

I know you’re leaving: normalizing employee departures

Any human resources and human capital management professional will be the first one to tell you that there is a growing trend for employees not to stay in one job as long as previous generations. In fact, research has proven that, while the silent generation commonly worked for two companies on average for most of their careers, generations Y and Z are more likely to work for over five different employers within their career. The rationale is that today’s employees are much more motivated to seek that hidden gem, and want to make the most of their jobs.

As a result, no matter how much employers would like to keep their best employees forever, sooner or later those workers will leave, despite your best efforts to keep them. The reasons are plentiful, and few of them are avoidable: a better job opportunity, having to move, or simply having reached their professional growth potential limit in their current position. Employee turnover is a natural part of the organizational ebb and flow.

Instead of treating these departures as something entirely negative, employers can benefit from accepting and normalizing these transitions as part of the employee lifecycle. In doing so, they can take proactive steps to make the most of what employees can contribute during their time with the company, and position the organization for success beyond the end of their employment.

So here are a few ways employers can accept and normalize employee departures and get the most out of their current team members:

Fostering a culture of open communication

When employees feel comfortable communicating with their superiors and colleagues, they are more likely to be transparent about their career goals and aspirations. Encourage regular visits and open dialogue to foster a culture of honesty and transparency, which can help identify potential departures before they happen.

Creating a transparent culture

Organizations need to be transparent about their expectations and provide regular feedback to employees. This includes sharing performance measures and setting clear objectives. Transparent communication ensures that employees understand their role and expectations, which reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings leading to departures.

Providing opportunities for growth

Employees are more likely to stay in a role if they feel they are evolving and developing professionally. Allow them to acquire new skills, take on new projects and benefit from mentoring or coaching to help them reach their full potential in their current role.

Offer competitive compensation and benefits

While compensation is not the only factor influencing an employee’s decision to stay or leave a position, it is an important one. Make sure your organization offers competitive compensation and benefits to attract and retain top talent.

Encouraging knowledge sharing

Encouraging knowledge transfer is crucial to an organization’s success. By encouraging employees to share their knowledge with their colleagues, the impact of their departure and the loss of organizational memory will be less felt after they have left the company. This not only improves the organization’s overall performance but also prepares employees for their future roles within the organization.

Conduct exit interviews

When employees decide to leave, make sure to conduct exit interviews to understand the reasons why they’re leaving and gather feedback on their experience within the organization. This information can help identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to retain future employees.

Maintain positive relationships

Just because an employee leaves the company doesn’t mean the relationship has to end. Maintain positive relationships with departing employees and keep them in your network. They may be able to recommend future candidates or even return to the organization in another capacity. Former employees are among an organization’s best ambassadors, so maintaining a positive relationship with them is highly recommended.

Be creative and flexible in your hiring

While it may seem optimal to hire employees on an indeterminate basis, today’s working world is in constant flux, and not all workers want to commit to a long-term contract. It can therefore be advantageous for companies to hire qualified people on a shorter-term basis, even for one-year contracts for example, to take advantage of what that person has to offer, for a limited time.

Offer support during the departure process

Organizations need to support employees during the departure process. This includes helping with the job search, offering outplacement services and providing resources to help employees adapt to new roles. This support can help employees feel valued and respected, even when they leave the company.

In conclusion, accepting and normalizing employee departures is a crucial part of the employee life cycle. By fostering a culture of open communication, offering development opportunities, providing competitive compensation and benefits, conducting exit interviews and nurturing positive relationships, employers can get the most out of their current team members and position themselves for success, even after they’ve left.

Pascale Durivage

Head of Human Resources


Cosgrove, Jack (2022) Generational Differences and how they Impact Human Resource Management. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland. https://norma.ncirl.ie/id/eprint/5862