Navigating Employee Exits: Essential Steps for Employers


15 Feb, 2023

When an employee resigns, it can be a challenging time for small businesses. However, it’s important to handle the situation professionally to maintain a positive working environment and keep the door open for potential boomerang employees.

Firstly, avoid trying to persuade the employee to stay by offering a raise or counter-offer. If underlying issues triggered their departure, it’s unlikely that money alone will keep them for any extended period of time with your business.

Instead, genuinely thank them for their contribution to your business and wish them every success in their new role. Be supportive and professional to the person and you will leave the door open for a potential return in the future.

When someone resigns, there are several steps you can take to manage the transition effectively.


Notify the payroll team so they can calculate final termination payments, finalise expense claims and check details for forwarding any personal mail or information after the person leaves. (There are additional rules they need to follow if they wish to withhold money for inadequate notice.)


Notify the IT team so they can plan to deactivate passwords, remove access privileges, redirect email accounts, and retrieve any remote access keys.


Create a list of all company assets allocated to the employee such as company cars, phones, laptops/tablets, uniforms, name badges, keys, security codes, company credit cards, supplier/client contact lists, and business cards. and discuss how they will be returned to the business.


Consider the staffing implications of the person leaving. This is an opportunity to reconsider roles and responsibilities for the team and may create opportunities for promotion or cross-skilling.

Handover Planning

Plan for a smooth handover of projects, files, and client accounts. Arrange meetings of an appropriate length with the person leaving to ensure nothing is overlooked.

Exit Interview

Hold an exit interview to gain valuable feedback on what was good about working for your business, and areas that could be improved in the future. Some of the questions that you used in retention interviews may be also used in exit interviews.

Client/Supplier Handover

If the employee worked closely with your clients or suppliers, ensure you plan for a seamless handover to the new person that will be handling client accounts. Wherever possible, have the employee that is leaving make the introductions to the client/supplier so they get continuity.

Team Support

When someone leaves a business, it can trigger anxiety and questions in remaining employees. As the employer, your job is to steady the ship and create a positive vision for the future. Never speak negatively about the departing employee – always keep your comments professional and supportive.

Exit Checklist

Our HR Policies suite of products include a detailed employee exit checklist to help smoothly manage the process of a person leaving your business to ensure all of the details are taken care of in a timely fashion.

In summary, managing an employee’s exit from your business involves more than holding a morning tea and giving a gift. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved and maintain a positive working environment.

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HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.

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We are an Australian human resources business specialising in small businesses and not for profits, based in Brisbane, Australia.


If you are an Employee and need HR Advice, call Fair Work Australia 13 13 94



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