When an employee quits suddenly, it can be hard to deal with the work stress. Even if you are the manager who politely knows how to handle the stress of someone leaving, you still have to deal with the consequences of their decision to your business.
That employee must have been valuable to your team, so you are worried. Of course, the ideal way of dealing with stress is to track your employee results constantly and keep the communication lines open so that unpleasant surprises that ruin your critical project don’t happen. However, life is not so straightforward. At one point, you won’t see it coming. You’ll have to act fast.
Tackling workplace stress of the newly arisen situation must be planned so it doesn’t catch you unprepared.
How to Deal with Work Stress of Sudden Resignations
The worst scenario is your employee leaves without notice or with days to find their replacement. What can you do?
1. Accept that ending workplace relationships is a fact of life.
Not all business decisions can be controlled. Sooner or later, someone will quit. So accepting that this is inevitable saves you a fair amount of stress and going down the rabbit hole of what you did wrong or how you could have prevented the event in the first place. Reflecting on the whys and hows is good, but only with a cool head.
2. Have a ready offboarding protocol.
Most managers have an onboarding protocol for new employees.
Growth can be traumatic, but it’s generally positive because you strive to scale and expand. Why not apply the same to deal with stress when someone quits? Have a step-by-step plan that includes what you do about notice time, payment, passes to offices (and online apps), and a message that communicates professionalism. To part on good terms, ensure you know what to say – even better – have a written note with key points that need to be discussed.
3. Do a knowledge transfer (handover).
Your employee will have collected resources, knowledge, and experience while they were on your team. Keep a stock of that at all times. It can be a shared document, database, or project management app, anything that alleviates the workplace stress of the dozens of new decisions you have to make. It will help you make an easier transition, handover, and new employee training. Even when many employees have been with you for a while to work on short-term projects, you keep important knowledge as a company resource.
4. Mark the departure.
All that work about sudden resignations is stressful by definition.
But stress-free departures on decent terms should be your golden rule. If you don’t feel like celebrating or throwing a party, acknowledge the employee by saying thank you for their contribution and wish them good luck on their next project.
5. Deploy a delegation strategy.
Your business strategy should have a contingency plan that uses delegation as a tool for sudden employee changes. Effective delegating skills need to be a part of your managerial acumen that will save you tonnes of stress when someone quits unexpectedly.
Make this sudden departure a chance for existing team members to take on new responsibilities. Ensure you compensate for the extended duties.
Such role reshuffling is easier when you have clearly defined roles and team structure. Instead of relying on the person, rely on the job role.
6. Have a hiring plan.
Hands down, you can handle any job stress with aplomb if you have a Plan B. In case of unforeseen employee resignation, a Plan B includes knowing your next step. Apart from saying goodbye to the old, you should welcome the new.
Before creating a new hiring plan and scheduling interviews, reflect on why the sudden departure may have left you off guard. Now is the time to incorporate the lessons learned to arrive at where you reap the benefits of fresh employee energy.
Instead of wondering how to deal with the stress when hundreds of other decisions weigh on you, you can relax about your next steps.
Work Stress: What NOT to Do When an Employee Leaves
Many work situations are stressful by nature. But adding fuel to the fire is counterproductive.
To handle work stress elegantly, avoid doing the following:
- Take it personally. Your employee may quit for their own reasons that don’t have to do with you as a boss. Agree to disagree and split up in peace.
- Nothing at all. Take an active role because your employee is stressed as well and can be confused about what happens next. Explain the next steps on the company’s behalf.
- Dispute their decision. However displeased you may be about this sudden quitting, creating conflict won’t solve the problem but rather create more stress. Chances are your employee has thought about their decision well and is going to a place that is more aligned with their growth path and values. Unless you can come with a better offer, there is nothing much you can do about it.
- Leave out references. Take the departure as a chance to spread the good word about your company.
- Avoid the exit interview. If you don’t have the time for a full-on offboarding interview, delegate the task to someone else. But it is a sign of good leadership if you take this opportunity with confidence and show you know how to cut losses delicately.
How to Handle Stress at Work when a Whole Team Quits
Having a full team cancel on an important project is rarer than individuals leaving but it does happen. Such an unexpected event occurred to the precursor of Flash Hub – Bright Solutions.
The stress of dealing with the consequences of a massive chunk of your workforce leaving can be devastating. It can sign the death note for a company. Or, it can be an opportunity to rethink how you do business and move beyond the restrictions of traditional team hierarchies and start working with virtual teams.
Watch how Manuel handled the stress of a sudden team departure, reinvented his company, and expanded to a new one that works with global freelance teams:
Virtual work is a chance to replace traditional work contracts with an elastic virtual team structure based on principles of transparency, autonomy, and clarity.
We can help you create remote work teams that are:
- Connected through workflows
- Supported by experts
- Resilient to sudden resignations
- Stress-free thanks to clear job goals and objectives
How to deal with stress at work when someone resigns? Have a Plan B and build your virtual freelance team. Click below to start now!