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When an Employee Leaves

Over the course of any employee-having business’ lifetime, there are bound to be those times when an employee leaves the company.  Some of the time it is because they are removed from their employment by the employer (fired). In those instances, it is more common for both parties to want to separate from each other as quickly as possible and there is littleemployer  interest in acknoweldging the employee’s contributions or celebrating their time with the company, nor is there a desire for the employee to wish to be gracious in the company of the other employees or the boss. Other times, employees may leave because they have quit to pursue other opportunities.  Depending on the circumstances behind the quitting, a decision may have to be made about whether to acknowledge the employee; how to acknowledge the employee, and who to include in the participation of the acknowledgement.  Lastly, there are those times when an employee of longstanding chooses to retire or is moving and in so doing, is no longer going to be an employee.

Is a party appropriate when an employee quits?

Quitting to Pursue Other Options

Some employees may be working and productive within a company, but their passions lie somewhere else.  They may be going to school for the study of a field unrelated to the company’s business, they may have a hobby that has blossomed into a career opportunity, or they may be selecting to spend their time in unrelated pursuits.  There is typically little animosity between employer and employee, and in this environment, some recognition of the person may feel appropriate and worthwhile.
The options are as varied as the people involved.  It may consist of:
  • A card and gift certificate given to the employee from the boss or from a collection of other employees and a quick handshake at the person’s desk or workplace.
  • A formal gathering (at a restaurant, a breakroom of the place of employment or other location) where the employee is a “guest of honor.”
  • A contribution or gift to the person’s new hobby/business, a charitable donation, or other recognition of the person’s “new life” away from the employer and work environment.

Quit to Pursue Competitive Offer

In other situations, the employee may be quitting to join a competitor or a business that competes with the existing employer of company.  In that instance, it may be more difficult for the employer and fellow employees to sincerely offer a heartfelt “best wishes and good luck in your new endeavor” recognition of any kind.  While the employee may have done good work for the current employer – the prospect of that employee now becoming a competitor or potentially helping competition to secure business, identify opportunities, or provide insider knowledge only available to employees to a competitor make it very hard for the company’s personnel to want to celebrate the person’s leaving.

In this instance, the considerations are a little different:

  • What to celebrate?  The person’s past contributions?  The person’s future prospects?
  • Who should participate?  Is the employee now a pariah and no one is to acknowledge him or her?  Is it OK for those closest to collaborate and send the employee off with some recognition, appreciation, and best wishes?
  • Who qualifies?  Is the opportunity only available to those who worked for a period of time?  Full vs. Part-time?  Strategic level work vs. clerical or manual?

In quick succession, the situation becomes complex when the employee is leaving to participate in a business that is a “threat” to the existing one.


If the employee is retiring and will not be in the workforce at all, the complications seem far less.  With open arms and hearts, most employers and colleagues will want to wish the person a “hearty faretheewell” and best wishes for health, happiness, good times, etc.  The consideration here is if this is open to ALL employees or only those that meet certain qualifications (employees of longstanding, status, etc.).  While the iconic “gold watch” may be rarely given upon retirement, something in its place is often provided as a thank you for service and a reminder of the good times, successes and experiences shared by employer and employee.

How you choose to recognize; or even if you choose to recognize the leaving of employees is an entirely personal business decision. However, realize that if you have more than one employee working for the company; the eyes of the non-leaving employee(s) will be upon the situation and observing with the expectation of how they will be treated when or if it is their turn.

David Zahn