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What to Do When an Employee Leaves Your Small Business

Samantha Lloyd on January 31, 2020
employees discussing work

When you’re a business owner, but especially of a small business, nothing can fully prepare you for when someone departs. Often, the individual wears many hats and their role encompasses bits and pieces of all types of jobs, making it difficult to understand how to replace them and who you’re looking for. Over time, as roles evolve, why you hired that person in the first place may no longer be relevant to what they do currently. Turnover is natural in any business and employee turnover rates in Canada sit at about 16%, and in the US, 13%. Once an employee announces that they’re leaving, it’s time to jump into action and ask for their help in shaping the future of their role. Let’s see what you can do to prepare for their absence! Below are some questions you can ask them to help make filling their role easier and to better understand this role within your business.

What Does Your Day-to-day Look Like?

It’s hard to know exactly what all your employees are doing everyday to help your business grow. Ask for a list of their day-to-day or their frequent tasks and projects. From this, you can compare the position with the original job description and see how the role has changed and grown over time. It may be an opportunity to adjust the salary or title on the role, as well, before making a job posting.

What Systems and Procedures Do You Use on a Daily Basis?

Hopefully your business uses a password manager so transferring any necessary logins (and changing them when someone leaves) is simple. If not, you need to gather this information before they depart. Make sure to ask for all log-in information, including making sure 2FA isn’t set to their personal phone number, so you don’t get locked out of valuable accounts. Many password management apps are free or inexpensive for a certain amount of passwords stored. They also allow for easy transfer between team members and different “team” and “personal” vaults. 87% of employees who leave a job take the data they created with them. If your business isn’t using a password manager, consider giving one a try.

Aside from ensuring logins are set, you need to get their systems and procedures. If a person on your marketing team is leaving, do you know what they do to publish blogs, share to social, or send email marketing campaigns? Ask for how-to instructions so that you can carry out these tasks in case there’s a break between their departure and a new hire’s arrival.

Who are Your Go-to Contacts?

Every person on your team has their list of partners, clients, and more that they work with constantly. Perhaps a member of your sales team is leaving. If your company uses a CRM, you may be able to access or easily transfer their data to you. Otherwise, request that your employee make a list of all contacts they work closely with. If some of these are big clients or partners, ask for a personal hand off and introduction so you can continue the relationship after they leave.

What Type of Long-term Goals Did You Have for This Business as it Pertains to Your Role?

A question like this lets you glean what the person wanted to accomplish with their time here. It’s possible they had some long term strategies that you or a new person in the position can apply. Find out what they had in mind for their year ahead, if they had stayed.

What is Something You Would’ve Liked to Accomplish in Your Time Here but Didn’t Get to Do?

Everyone notices weak spots in the business they’re working for, but may not have the opportunity or time to dedicate towards it. Asking this provides them the opportunity to tell you that the clock-in system is inaccurate or that they’d have loved to organize monthly team building initiatives out of the office setting. When you’re running a business, you can get caught up in the big picture and miss the small details that matter a lot to employees and impact their day-to-day.

What Type of Person Would You Put in Your Role?

This may be a way to glean some helpful information about the position they’re soon vacating. Do they think that you need someone more or less experienced? Do you need two people for this job? Is an education necessary? Whether or not you apply their opinion is up to you, as the business owner, but can help you understand if you’re over- or under-employing this position.

What is Something You Would Change About Your Role?

This is a way to ask about something the person didn’t necessarily enjoy in their role. Maybe it’s a certain task or working alongside certain people, which may be unavoidable. Learning this can help you resolve conflicts or re-evaluate a position before hiring someone new. It could also be that they wished they had an opportunity to do something outside their job description that would have been beneficial for their role. 

What Will You Miss the Most About Working Here?

It’s great to learn what people love about their jobs. It could be the people they work with, the beautiful office space, or getting to work on a favourite project. Maybe you’ve got excellent benefits coverage or a location that can’t be beat. 60% of people state that benefits impact their decision in the hiring process. Learning the things that excite your employees can be selling points to future job hunters looking at that role and can help you close the deal on a hire you really want to secure. It could also help you understand what your team values as a whole about the company and how you can make these things happen more often to boost morale. 

It’s not easy to lose any employee when you’re a business owner. Most employees provide notice and want to leave with a good final impression and as a thank you for a great time on board. Let your team member help you shape the future of the role with their input!