Communication

How to announce employee departures to your team

8 min read

How do you announce employee departures? It can be a sensitive topic to navigate. In this article, Brennan goes through best practices for how to communicate resignations to your company.

When people leave your organization for new opportunities, it doesn’t need to sound off the alarms. It’s normal for your employees to grow and move on to new opportunities. 

But when more than one person leaves a company at once, a lot of leaders freeze up, understanding that this can look bad for the employees who remain. Are you now part of the feared “great resignation”? 

Really though how you approach these departures will ultimately have a greater impact than the departures themselves. 

We recently wrote about how employees can resign without burning bridges. But equally as important is how companies announce those resignations. Why? Your current team sees how you treat people on the way out. If as soon as someone quits you start treating them poorly, they’re going to lose trust in you. And that’s when things can really start going downhill. 

I’m proud that we’re on good terms with many of our former employees (some are even customers!). In fact, it’s not uncommon for team members to let me know they’re looking for a new job when they’re ready to move on, before they’ve even signed somewhere else. Not to look for a promotion or a raise, but for the sake of transparency. That’s a level of trust my co-founder, Graham, and I continue to work for on our team.

Recognizing that this is a bit of an anomaly, I’m going to walk you through how we announce employee departures at Hypercontext to help maintain trust and confidence amongst employees. 

First thing’s first:

Should you announce an employee’s departure? 

The short answer is yes. 

Transparency is always a best practice and this is especially true when more than one person is leaving your company. 

Regardless of whether you announce the departures or not, the news will make its way around the office. If you don’t explicitly explain what’s happening, people will invent their own narrative. And you better believe it’s going to skew negative. 

You know what happens when a negative narrative is created? It spreads. Fast. In fact, it spreads 6 times faster than good news according to a survey by Science.

I know that the concern with announcing a larger departure is a snowball effect. But, people will make their own assumptions regardless. It’s better to take ownership over the narrative.  

Let’s dive further into:

How to announce employee departures

Now we know you should announce departures, but the question is how? It can be a tricky and sensitive topic to navigate. Here are some tips to help:

Understand the root of the problem 🌱

If one person quits, there’s not necessarily a problem. But if it’s happening consistently, it may require some investigation. Why are people leaving? Is there a certain area of the business that’s seeing more turnover? 

The old saying goes: “people don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad managers.”

The answer to why people are quitting is almost always bad management. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the manager themself is bad — always assume positive intent. They’re probably exhausted and don’t have the proper tools to create a safe environment for their team. How can you better support and equip your managers?

If you’re doing consistent one-on-ones and skip-level meetings, you’ll already have a sense of what’s going wrong before people start leaving — which is the best time to address the situation. If you’re not already aware of the issues, an offboarding meeting is also an opportunity to find out what’s been going on and get some honest feedback so you can course-correct. 

Have the right tools in place 🗓

What are your company’s pre-existing communication pillars? Resignations aside, how do you share news with your employees? 

At Hypercontext we rely heavily on two recurring touchpoints with our whole team: a weekly 15-minute townhall and a bi-weekly demo day. These are also opportunities to share company news like resignations. 

Townhall

Our townhall is mostly for information sharing. In addition to reviewing our goals and metrics, it’s when we communicate any news and changes with the team. 

If people are resigning from the company, we share that with the team at Townhall. 

Since this meeting happens weekly, it gives us the opportunity to share almost immediately, rather than waiting two weeks until demo day. 

Demo day

Demo day is when we review what’s been done over the last sprint (2 weeks). It’s also where we’d celebrate accomplishments and milestones. When someone leaves the company, we take some time during demo day to share kind words about the team member and bid them farewell. Not only is this nice for the employee that’s leaving, but it also demonstrates to the rest of your team that there aren’t any hard feelings. 

Demo day’s also a great opportunity to announce if new people have been hired.

While I do recommend these touchpoints, I appreciate not everyone has them. Use what you do have. Maybe email is the common mode of communication. That’s okay. But, whatever it is, make sure you give your employees the space and opportunity to ask questions in real-time and get any clarifications they need. Make it a conversation. 

Don’t wait too long ⏰

Once you know people are resigning, don’t sit on it. Like I said, bad news travels fast. The longer you wait to announce, the more time there is for people to make their own assumptions. Get ahead of it by ripping off the band-aid.

Present the facts ✏️

People see right through sugar coating — list the facts. Eg: These people are leaving, are they being replaced? If you’re not replacing them, why not? If you’re changing the role, why?

People crave solid, logical information. Don’t make them fill in the blanks! 

Share a plan for moving forward 🚗

While you don’t need to sugar coat an exodus, it is important to share how you’ll operate moving forward. It’s a time of uncertainty and people want to know that you have a plan for the future. 

This will also allow you to put a positive spin on things. For example, if 2 people are leaving the company, that could also mean that there are 2 open roles, or an opportunity to promote from within. 

If you’re not sure yet, let your team know that you’ll be presenting a plan of action in the coming weeks. You don’t need to know everything when you announce, but make sure your team knows that you’re thinking about it and will keep them in the loop. 

How do you write an employee departure email? 

While we at Hypercontext mostly rely on synchronous communication for these announcements, I appreciate that a lot of companies turn to email. 

When using email to announce employee departures, the same principles still apply. That is: send the email as soon as possible, list the facts, and share the plan for the future. 

The one major difference between announcing in person and announcing in email is that you don’t have the opportunity to respond to questions or concerns in real-time. That’s why it’s absolutely vital in email communication that you encourage team members to talk to their managers in their one-on-ones or reach out to you directly with any questions. Ensure there aren’t any lingering concerns. 

Another thing I’ll say: keep your communication methods consistent. If you’re announcing a departure in an email for one person, do the same for everyone. 

Employee departure announcement email template

While every email should be tailored to the specific employee/s that are leaving, you can use this basic format for the structure of your email:

[Paragraph 1]: Get straight to the point: announce the departure, and explain in one sentence why they’re leaving. 

[Paragraph 2]: Talk about some of the contributions the employee has made to the company and share some kind words and well wishes.

[Paragraph 3]: Share the plan moving forward.

[Paragraph 4]: Let your team know that their manager is there for them to discuss further in their 1:1s or that they can reach out with any questions or concerns. 

Here’s an employee departure announcement template to help get started:

employee departure announcement template
Use this template in Google Docs

Don’t be afraid of announcing employee resignations. Sweeping news of departures under the rug will result in decreasing confidence and trust from your team. The best policy is to be upfront and address issues head-on — that way employees aren’t left trying to read in between the lines you left blank.

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