Worklife: Why every employee's exit must be accompanied by a dignified closure

Unless someone is found guilty of being unethical or violating the law, there is no reason why they should not get a respectable exit

By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

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Published: Thu 12 Oct 2023, 8:24 PM

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — Maya Angelou.

Closure is a critical aspect of any work relationship: be it candidates, employees or external stakeholders. There cannot be any element of half-heartedness, vagueness or incivility involved in this exercise.

A candidate, who was lauded earlier as the North Star, doesn’t become a damp squib if the selection doesn’t go through. They may not be the best fit for you in that instance, but it, in no way, diminishes their worth or their prospects in the past, present or future. If things do not work out, it is dignified and professional to close the loop in a timely and specific manner. Such reciprocity and respect only enhances the BX or the brand experience in the long term. Sadly, closing the loop itself is a luxury for most, leave alone doing it right.

Likewise, a loyal employee of many years doesn’t become a liability or a mere headcount conversation if business or strategy changes or if they fall short of expectations somehow. Unless someone is found guilty of being unethical or violating the law, there is no reason why they should not get a dignified exit. The lack of professional approach to closure diminishes the BX that no marketing CAPEX or OPEX can ever recover.

Yet, in many instances, which are more of a rule than an exception, we see loyal employees shortchanged over an email, a pink slip or a heartless conversation that is one-sided and decided. Some do not get the opportunity to even send a goodbye email to colleagues and friends they have cultivated over the years as email access is turned off even before they gather their thoughts, post the event. Exit interviews are generally a farce when conducted and are bypassed most of the time in a quest to quickly ‘move on’.

What does the above say about the ‘hire to retire’ cycle, people centricity and transformation as it is espoused to be in the first place? How should those affected respond or react in such scenarios that are sudden, unprecedented and kill all the planning for family, livelihood, liabilities and career in one stroke?

For starters, stop being a football to other people’s opinions. Someone’s opinion about you is just their judgment conditioned by many factors, including lack of maturity, empathy, security and sometimes compulsions beyond their means. It does not change who you are, the glorious journey that you have had so far and the wonderful things that you can envision now (that was earlier masked by crazy deadlines, idiosyncrasies and whims). Belief is at the core and learnings are critical catalysts for your recovery and resurgence. When a door closes, a new one opens with new vistas, and don’t complain of noise when opportunity ‘knocks’.

It is imperative that organisations re-examine such soft touchpoints that erode the culture, brand and camaraderie. Optics can only take it as high as it can sustain these humane factors consistently. Gravity dictates that what goes up shall come down and the touchdown depends on how the organisation deals with closures.

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