When a high-performing employee resigns, it can leave a gaping hole in your operation and even paralyze the team. 

Bruce Anderson, a lead writer for LinkedIn’s Talent Blog, shares his insights on the three steps to take when a star employee leaves. It’s critical to ensure the departure is amicable, as this can have a knock-on effect on your team and business.

Three Steps HR Professionals Can Take In The Event Of An Employee Leaving

1. Make The Most Of The Exit Interview

Whatever the reason for your star employee leaving, your aim is to determine if there are gaps in how your business operates and turn the employee into an ambassador for your company

A well-structured exit interview not only highlights management deficiencies but can also enhance retention, encourage engagement, and generate competitive intelligence.

Key elements of a productive exit interview:

  • Do it asap, before the employee leaving has mentally checked out
  • Arrange a skip-level meeting where a senior manager talks freely with the employee
  • Record the meeting or take notes so you can act on what you’ve learned
  • Keep the meeting positive to increase the chances the departing employee will speak highly of your company

2. Reassure and Inspire The Team

Organize a meeting with the existing team as soon as possible after your star has resigned. This has three important functions. 

One, it reassures the team that this is an isolated occurrence and not a staff-culling exercise. 

Secondly, it assures them that contingency plans are in place to accommodate the departing colleague’s work until the person is replaced. Highlight challenges around work redistributions and opportunities such as shelving tasks to make way for more valued work. 

Thirdly, listen carefully to how this affects the team and let them air their joys or grievances about their own jobs. Assure them of your support and that anything they bring up will be addressed.

3. Conduct Stay Interviews With Valued Employees

An exit interview doesn’t have to mean goodbye. But a stay interview is an opportunity to assess workplace sentiments in the first place. 

It assures top performers they’re valued and allows you to gauge team morale and get to know the people you manage better. It provides insights into ways to ensure you retain top talent while gathering vital intelligence around employee satisfaction and engagement. 

Ask questions that probe what aspects of their work excites or exhausts them, what their ideal job within your company looks like, and the things they most dislike about their current KPIs. 

When announcing the departure of your star employee, make sure it’s a positive experience both for the employee leaving and for the remaining staff. By lauding the leaving star’s qualities and prospects, you are fostering an ongoing relationship with him or her that could well see them become a boomerang employee in the future.


Losing a valued member of your team needn’t be the end of the world. But it’s vital that you quickly pick up the pieces and keep the company momentum and positivity going. Remain focused on nurturing new stars and apply learning from exit and stay interviews to build your business into a galaxy. 

Sign up for early access to the upcoming release of The Alumni Advantage, an end-to-end understanding of how organizations are recognizing and leveraging their former employees, authored by James Sinclair, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of EnterpriseAlumni.