Researchers from UniSA’s Centre for Human Resource Management will study employee-initiated exits and what happens at the critical moment when employees approach their boss to resign.
Professor of Human Resource Management Carol Kulik says many managers are ill-prepared when their employees quit and handle the situation badly.
“Organisations train managers about how to tell an employee that he or she is being sacked but they don’t get taught what to do when an employee comes to them and says ‘I’m leaving’,” she says.
“This is an important turning point in the employer-employee relationship, and it would be great if the manager could use that opportunity to generate some goodwill.”
Prof Kulik says managers often feel betrayed and react in a negative or awkward way when they are unprepared for an employee’s resignation, and miss out on the opportunity to turn the event into a positive and potentially valuable future relationship.
“At that juncture, the manager’s response may be a critical factor in determining how the employee feels about the organisation,” she says.
“As an analogy, imagine that you were preparing to tell your romantic partner you were breaking up. You deliberately chose a time when they weren’t under a lot of stress, you tried to break the news gently, and you took full responsibility for the breakup. If after all that effort your partner responded ‘well I never loved you anyway,’ it would be a huge blow.
“Some managers are caught by surprise and stumble over the opportunity to maintain a connection with the exiting employee. Some managers feel betrayed and try to sever the relationship as quickly as possible. But some managers do manage the exit well and nurture positive relationships with their former employees.”
Every year in Australia, more than one million full-time workers change jobs. More than 70 per cent of these workers are voluntary leavers who are moving to different, sometimes better, career opportunities.
Prof Kulik says these ex-employees can be organisational ambassadors spreading positive word of mouth about their former employer to potential customers, referring high-quality applicants for employment, or even ‘boomeranging’ back to the same organisation at a later career stage.
She says employees quit for a whole range of reasons that don’t necessarily relate to dissatisfaction or unhappiness with their jobs.
“Sometimes employees leave because they are poached by another company, or they are moving interstate to be with their partner, or they might have a larger plan in mind such as working overseas,” she says.
“What’s important about many of these reasons is that employees don’t always quit because they are dissatisfied or unhappy with their jobs.
“It’s in the employer’s best interest to maintain a positive post-exit relationship with these employees, but unfortunately many exits are not handled effectively.”
The study will focus on people who have voluntarily resigned from their full time jobs in the past six months.
The Centre for Human Resource Management is currently seeking participants for face to face interviews to be conducted in Adelaide. Confidentiality is guaranteed and participants will be compensated for their time with a $30 Coles/Myer gift card.
To schedule an interview please:
Or call: (08) 8302 7788 / 0413 375 155
Or text: 0413 375 155
If you know an organisation that would like to participate in this research, or if you would like to learn more about how employers can effectively manage the exit process, please contact Professor Carol Kulik on Carol.firstname.lastname@example.org