how to announce an employee is leaving

Every week, without fail, one of the most popular terms that people search for on this blog is “announcement of employee leaving company.” Just this past week, there were 20 separate searches done for that phrase.

I am baffled by this. Are all these people trying to figure out how to announce that an employee is leaving? If so, the answer is: Be straightforward. For example: “I’m sad to announce that Julie has decided to move on and her last day with us will be August 30.” Then you say some nice things about her if you can (about her work and achievements), and add that you wish her the best. And you can think about what things people might be wondering about (timeline for hiring a replacement, who will cover her responsibilities in the interim, etc.) and address those things too.

If the employee was fired, the format is pretty much the same, although shorter: “Unfortunately, Julie’s last day with us was today. We wish her the best of luck, and we’ll be moving quickly to hire a replacement. If you have questions about projects you were working on with her, please see Jeff for updates.”

Does anyone think this is not as straightforward as I’m alleging? Tell me what it is that is tripping people up about this. 

P.S. I may do a week of posts addressing some of the search terms people are searching for here. Does that sound really boring?

{ 34 comments… read them below }

  1. nuqotw*

    I saw this phenomenon at a company that had a retention problem…. and every time they didn't announce a departure, people got a little more creeped out, some to the point of finding a new job. It was a vicious cycle.

  2. clobbered*

    I've seen this to be a problem when an employee has been fired for what is rumoured to be a workplace violation (rather than poor performance). In the case I am thinking of, management did not disclose the reason the employee left, citing employee confidentiality. This can be pretty bad for morale, because if people know the employee is very good, they wonder about whether the firing was capricious.

    I think in this situation, not giving a specific reason is a mistake. For one thing, wild inaccurate rumours fly that are potentially even worse for the employee. For another, I think it misses the opportunity to prove seriousness about upholding workplace policies.

    For a truly random example, say an employee was terminated because they persistently brought and showed pornography in the workplace. I don't see the problem with saying "X was terminated due to violation of the workplace sexual harassment policy". One doesn't need to go into the details, but I think one can benefit from showing that "we take these policies seriously and people will be terminated for violating them".

    Conversely, if an employee is terminated "without prejudice", if you like, I don't see anything wrong with saying "Y is leaving because his position is eliminated due to restructuring of the group."

    1. Tami*

      I don’t know. I think that I would say as little as possible about why an employee was terminated, simply because of possible litigation issues. I understand your point in that not saying anything can fuel the rumor mill, but so could saying something about someone violating the workplace sexual harassment policy. In fact, my guess is that saying something like that would fuel even more water cooler chatter.

      There really is not an easy way to handle this. I think that in many termination cases, less is more.

      However, I did work in a place where they never announced anyone leaving. People would just all of a sudden disappear. In fact, even the receptionist would not know that the person was gone. It was creepy. I could never understand the secrecy.

  3. Anonymous*

    Do you have any really bizarre search terms come up? I once had a relationship blog and my number 6 most common search was "new shooz"(!?)

  4. Anonymous*

    The place where I work, when they get rid of someone, they always send out a mass e-mail stating that they no longer work here and wish them well on their future endeavors. Then they will tell us who to contact.

  5. Henning Makholm*

    If Julie is actually leaving on her own volition, wouldn't it be more natural to let her announce it herself? That's how it's done around here, in the mold of:

    "Hello all. I've discovered some crazy people who're willing to pay me to photograph wombats all day, which (as some of you will know) has always been my life's true ambition. As this company, its other qualities untold, is completely devoid of wombats, Bob was essentially powerless to convince me to stay, so I'll be leaving by the end of this month. It has been cool working with you all, and there will be cake in celebration in the lunch room Wednesday at 15."

    Oh, and +1 on search term week!

  6. Sarah Fowler*

    I don't know why this shouldn't be straightforward. I was laid off from a small company a couple years ago, and basically the president didn't want to "make a big deal" out of the fact that he was laying off 30% of the company! So he told my coworkers (in a meeting where I was present) that I had decided to leave and start my own company. I had to explain later in private to every congratulatory coworker what had really happened. Awkward!

  7. Anonymous*

    I think what you're seeing is people hoping for a template that they can use to make it less awkward for themselves. Just lazy people. :)

    But, yes, it can be straightforward. The ones we usually get are very simple, pretty much exactly as you've written. Very occasionally we'll get one that has some humor injected, or one directly from the person that's leaving.

    There are always rumors when an explicit reason isn't stated, of course, but again, that's mostly projection, people worried when they see others leaving that their own job might be in jeopardy. Best advice there is to talk to your manager, that person might have some more insight which, while it can't be shared in a broadcast email, can be discussed in a more private setting.

  8. Anonymous*

    You can see what people search to find specific blogs?

    Bring on the top searches. Maybe we can see a trend in today's workplace.

  9. Class factotum*

    We had so many layoffs at my company (between layoffs and the sale of a division or two, it went from 120,000 employees when I started to 60,000 eight years later) that they stopped announcing departures. People – entire staff groups – would disappear.

    PS I worked for another company – RYDER – that wouldn't announce promotions. Because, as the director told me when I asked why on earth not, they didn't want to make the rest of us "jealous." Funny. My group had >100% turnover (people quitting, not being fired or laid off) in the year and a day that I was there.

  10. Anonymous*

    This is feedback; feel free not to allow it on the blog.

    Your questions at the end of this post sounded very insecure. As I'm normally impressed with your confidence and directness, I was surprised you would ask these questions of your readers and potential customers. It's your blog, do what you want.

  11. Anonymous*

    Personally, I like Henning's template — even in cases where wombats are not involved.

  12. Mike*

    My place of employment refuses to announce when someone leaves, and we have huge retention issues. It drives me up the wall.

  13. Anonymous*

    I love the idea of posts regarding most-searched topics.

    Your blog has been so helpful and interesting to me–I'm so grateful I found it!

  14. Anonymous*

    I hate when customers escalate to me to find out why their request is taking so long and I find that the person it was assigned to left us. Managers don't announce the exit and don't see to getting the work reassigned. This usually happens with voluntary exits. Involuntary ones generate more rumors and the news gets out faster. What are they thinking – that maybe if they're very quiet no one will notice?

  15. Kay*

    A sales company I worked for would send out mass emails saying only, "As of today [so-and-so] is no longer employed by [company]. Please treat them as you would any other customer." It always startled us and created a lot of worry about our own job security. It didn't matter whether they were fired, retired, left voluntarily. And it always left you feeling that once you left the company you were less than a person.

  16. Anonymous*

    We also have the issue that someone resigned from being manager (she could stay on with no loss of salary) but nothing was announced to anyone. It was truly bizarre. She told a few people she was close to but there was no announcement from the director. It was very, very awkward. People would go to her and she eventually had to tell people herself. This happened in February and just yesterday someone came to talk to me who didn't know. An announcement would have been welcome.

  17. Piper*

    @Anonymous at 11:32…
    I don't think asking your target market for feedback is insecure at all. It's the best way to get a feel for what people really want. Let them tell you! Companies do this all the time in the form of focus groups.

    Back on to the topic at hand- how a departure announcement is handled at my company is completely dependent on the responsible manager. Sometimes an announcement goes out as soon as the employee gives their notice, sometimes it goes out on their last day, sometimes it never goes out all. Some employees get cake to send them off, others barely get a nod in their direction. Very inconsistent.

    But, every time someone gets promoted, we get an announcement about that. A few weeks ago, I came in to 15 different promotion announcements. This arrived the day after my department was told we were not allowed to hire any more people or reorganize the department (even though it needs it desperately). Which means I get to keep doing the work of several people and I have no hope for a promotion (or title change to more accurately reflect my duties) any time soon.

  18. Rebecca*

    Kay, I love "Please treat them as you would any other customer," because it makes one wonder not only how the company treats customers, but also whether the former employee deserves such treatment…

  19. Anonymous*

    In my company, till a few months back, it used to be a tradition for people leaving to send a thank you mail on their last day announcing their departure and thanking the people they wanted to thank.

    However, the last few months have seen a huge number of people leaving (due to various reasons such as poor pay, bad policies, inept top management). Instead of trying to focus on the factors behind why people are leaving, the company decides to block mass mailing from the emails of people on their last day.

    I think that such a behavior is highly inappropriate from their end, and has only heightened the dissatisfaction of the employees.

  20. Anonymous*

    Standard at the large New England law firm where I worked (pre-massive layoff) was an e-mail form letter. They used the rather chilly subject line *SEPARATION NOTICE*, then person's name & effective date. Typically sent on their last day at the firm. No warm fuzzies there.

  21. Anonymous*

    Like myself I searched “Employee is quitting how to write letter” and this popped up. I am not lazy I want to make sure I do it right. I have never been in this position before and want to be tactful. I knew what I was going to write but needed that confirmation that it wasn’t too personal and was the proper way. I am thank ful for websites such as this, even one year later the information is helpful. Thank You again.

  22. Anonymous*

    We are humans, Life and situations are not as straight forward as you state. People search for just about everything on the internet, how to tie your shoes, how to use the microwave. Irrelevant of the topic, the internet is used for information! Good for you for knowing everything unlike you.. firing someone is not an easy thing to do and as much as we would like to be straight forward, people still seek comfort in knowing what others do.

  23. Anonymous*

    I don’t think the searching has neccesarily anything to do with confusion. For me, I’ve made so many of these announcements I was simply looking for a new, creative way of announcing it.

  24. Anonymous*

    You may want to check with your company’s HR policies before you are “straight forward” with your announcement.

  25. Taylor*

    A beloved coworker was recently fired, and it has become my role to tell our patients that she no longer works with us. Many of the patients are elderly and she was a significant source of connection to the world for them. Any tips for telling them?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t give specifics. Just say that unfortunately Jane no longer works there and you wish her all the best, and X will be doing the things they used to see Jane doing. If they ask what Jane is doing now, just explain that you’re not sure, that she was a lovely person, etc.

  26. Anonymous*

    I’m the one being laid off (supposedly for economic reasons) and have been offered the opportunity to craft the announcement to colleagues and clients. I have been with the company for a long time and had hoped to retire there, so I don’t want there to be any possible indication that this was my choice. And I certainly don’t want people told that I’m leaving to “pursue other interests.” Any suggestions for text? Thanks!

  27. Anonymous*

    I’m a nonprofit manager who just searched for this topic myself (love your blog, by the way!) The reason for it is because there is a delicate way to say it that avoids too much honesty (for example, if the person was fired, I don’t know that I would even use the word “unfortunately”) but also respects staff enough to notify them in a way that is direct and not too evasive and weird. For now I’ll just go with: “Today was X’s last day with our organization, and we wish him the best with his future endeavors. We’re working to replace him as soon as possible. …”

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