Resignation and Retrenchment: The Art of Change

So, you’re ready to tackle new challenges and find your dream job. Or you've decided that an employee you have is no longer for you. Either way, you're in the position of saying farewell.

Despite the current global economic situation, Australia remains an unusually dynamic employment forum. More than ever, employment is a negotiable concept, with workers moving from position to position at record rates.

It's not a “buyer's market”, however. It's simply a more flexible one, where the expectations of employer and employee have changed. This means that leaving a previous employer on good terms – or farewelling a worker appropriately – is just as important as finding a new one.

1. Say thankyou

Whatever the reason for ending an employment relationship, this is not the time for settling old scores, or offering a final swipe. Your reasons, if needed, for terminating the relationship, should be gracious and cautiously phrased.

For the employee, this is the easiest way to avoid ending up with a bad reference or reputation - particularly if you remain in the same career area. Similarly, an employer should remain respectful and formal at all times in dealing with a dismissed employee. Acknowledge the work that has been performed.

2. Provide an appropriate reason

Regardless of your position, it is appropriate to identify a specific reason for the change of circumstance. However, it is unwise to 'rake over the entrails' of any previous issue. This is not the time for petty squabbles.

The key here is to avoid the impression of acting on impulse, or for trivial personal reasons. For an employee, this may involve seeking further opportunities, or changes in personal circumstances. Wish the employer and its employees all the best for the future. For an employer, this may involve noting a change in business requirements or employment needs. Wish your employee all the best and thank them for their contribution.

3. Remain gracious

The easiest way to gain a bad reputation is often the most informal one. More than ever, society is connected by informal connections; social media is leading the way.

Ask yourself – what is to be gained by being known by colleagues or competitors as a resentful or unreliable person? Remain gracious in the change-of-employment process, regardless of your specific situation. Nothing can be gained through sour grapes. Even the most justified dismissal can undermine an employer if carried out in a callous or careless fashion.

Resignation, retrenchment, dismissal, or walking out: what matters in the long term interests of both parties is good grace. Reputations are at stake at both ends.

4. What’s next?

Once you’ve taken the difficult first step of saying farewell you can start looking to the future, whether that be landing the perfect job or finding your new ideal employee.

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