Business

An employee's last experience matters

That last impression from a departing employee or group of employees can influence the employer's brand and reputation,
That last impression from a departing employee or group of employees can influence the employer’s brand and reputation, as well as create a lasting impression for both former and remaining employees. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Many companies are focused on the “employee experience.”

According to Gallup, “The employee experience is defined as the journey an employee takes with your organization. It includes every interaction that happens along the employee life cycle, plus the experiences that involve an employee’s role, workspace, manager and wellbeing.”

As an experienced HR consultant and provider of career transition services, I have seen first-hand the impact of creating positive experiences for employees throughout their employment journey.

By the same token, I have seen what a negative experience — or a series of them — can do to damage an employer’s brand, recruiting efforts and overall retention.

First impressions matter to the bottom line.

A good first impression for a prospective employee is much like consumers deciding to purchase a product or service. As consumers, we are less inclined to purchase if we are turned off by or cannot see the value in something.

And the more customers who have this experience, the more it impacts the bottom line.

For the organization looking to make a great impression, a negative first impression can make it difficult to recruit the talent it needs.

In a similar way, the offboarding or exiting experience can matter to the bottom line.

That last impression from a departing employee or group of employees can influence the employer’s brand and reputation, as well as create a lasting impression for both former and remaining employees.

Resignations, layoffs, terminations, location or branch closings, positions affected by mergers/acquisitions and other situations are difficult.

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How these are handled speaks volumes about the employer’s culture and care for all team members.

While it can be difficult for an employee to remain “on the high road” and exit with professionalism, the employer still can set the stage appropriately, and do so with thoughtfulness and respect for one’s dignity.

For the employer, it’s important to remember that the way in which the exit is handled will be noticed or discussed by others.

In a sense, the last impression needs to be treated with the same level of care and attention as the first impression. For people-centered companies, the employee experience at the beginning is just as important as the last experience.

We live in a small community. In fact, sometimes the entire state of Iowa feels like one big, small town.

You can go to any community and potentially run into someone you know or find that you have a mutual connection.

When you consider this — along with the use of social media — there are ample opportunities for employers to directly impact or influence their employer brand.

The last experience employees have with an employer can be impactful to the organization’s efforts to recruit and retain the talent they need.

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When we work with individuals who have received career transition services from their employer, we hear first-hand about the experience.

The fact that the employer offered job-search support from a local provider as part of their severance package already speaks volumes about their brand.

Many employers have thought through the approach, planning, communication, training, and overall messaging long before we meet the employee.

In fact, if the employer plans as well as they can, chances are, we were working with the employer long before the separation occurred. Even a competent HR team still can use a confidential sounding board.

The last experience for the employee will include things such as how they were notified. Did they get this news over video-conferencing, a phone call or in person?

Did someone deliver this news via video conference with her or his screen darkened so the reaction or emotion was not seen? Was the communication coming from human resources and/or a member of management and, if so, what was said to the employee?

If the meeting was in-person, did it take place in a location that forced the employee to walk past a lot of people? Were there tissues on hand?

Even in a voluntary-leave situation, the employer has an opportunity to create as positive as an experience as they can.

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Conducting an exit interview, providing a checklist of helpful information and offering good wishes can go a long way to making a good last impression.

In the end, the employee’s last experience matters.

They are not just leaving behind pay and benefits but also friendships with remaining employees, a sense of purpose, identity and structure to their day.

Without consideration for the human side of job loss, that last experience can cause a negative effect to the company’s brand, prospective employees, customers, remaining employees, overall morale and bottom line.

How can your team create a positive last impression?

Jennifer Lawrence is the owner of Corridor HR Solutions, a career transition and consulting firm; jennifer@corridorsolutions.com; corridorhrsolutions.com.

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