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Say hello, wave goodbye

Workplace Culture

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As talent professionals, we quite rightly concentrate on converting the best candidates into hires and nurturing new starters through their initial period of employment so that they become high-performing and engaged members of the team. Phrases like ‘candidate journey’, ‘onboarding’ and even ‘pre-boarding’ have been common parlance at talent conferences for a long time, but it’s time to consider another aspect of employer reputation management – ‘off-boarding’.

How we treat employees when they are sitting in our company’s departure lounge will directly affect their post-employment advocacy. Hopefully, most of our leavers will be voluntary and many will have a broadly positive employee experience. So how can we make saying goodbye an all-around positive experience in order to make leavers a potential source of referrals, and remainers feel positive about their own futures?

A great example of good practice comes from Apple. Have you ever been in one of their stores when suddenly all the employees stop what they’re doing and walk to the front of the store applauding as a person exits the store? It’s called a ‘clap out’ and Apple gives one to every voluntary leaver to ensure their last working memory is positive and appreciative. It works – Apple has one of the lowest labour turnover rates in tech and retail, frequently re-hiring good leavers.

So, the next time someone resigns, let’s consider how we can:

  • celebrate their contribution
  • learn from their departure
  • support them and their team during their notice period
  • encourage alumni referrals
  • enable ‘boomerang’ hires
  • have some fun.

In a world full of user-generated content, review sites and sceptical consumers, we know that authenticity is key. There is nothing more genuine than an honest referral from a person that has lived your culture and made a positive contribution to your organisation.

Departures are inevitable – how we manage them is what matters if we wish to protect and promote a great employer reputation. So, move over joining experience and make a little room for leaving experience.


Simon McLoughlin