A great employee has just told you they’ve found a new job and you’re officially in shock. How are you supposed to move forward?

Much like a breakup, the adjustment period takes time. It’s hard saying goodbye to someone who is talented and full of promise, especially when you’ve depended on them in times of transition and hardship. They’ve brought value to your company, and it will be difficult to see them leave.

However, your business does not end with them. It’s important, now more than ever, to trust in your remaining employees and plan for the future.  If you’re looking for ways to dust yourself off and put your best foot forward, start with these tips:

Assess the situation

If the employee is an invaluable, indispensable member of your team, the first order of business is to get to the heart of their decision and do everything in your power to try to keep them on staff. Lead the conversation in a mature tone and strive for professionalism at all costs. Ask them about the reasons behind their leave and communicate how sorry you’ll be to see them go. You may be able to win them back with additional incentives or higher pay, but they may have simply received a better offer and their mind is made up. Still, it’s worth trying to make the situation work, especially if they’re critical to your business’s core functions.

Accept it if they’ve made up their mind

If their mind is made up, accept the news and wish them well. In the time they have between this job and the next (clarify the time frame you’re working with), enlist their help in creating a transition plan until you find someone new. Ask them to prepare training materials for those who will take over their job, and have existing employees shadow them if they’re expected to cover their job duties. Now is the time to conduct an evaluation of the position, and to enlist the help of your employee in finding a replacement.

Decide how you want to play your next move

Are you looking for all hands on deck, fast? No better place to look than your existing team. If anyone expresses interest in filling the position, consider their fit for the job. Have they demonstrated they possess the required soft skills, hard skills, aptitude, and business acumen needed to do the job?

If there’s potential, request the departing employee’s assistance in screening and interviewing candidates. You can also search for fresh talent by posting the opportunities on online job boards, your website, and, if you’re urgently hiring, partnering with recruiting agencies. Don’t forget word-of-mouth, either. Referred candidates are more likely to get hired, perform better, and last longer in jobs. Consider these odds based on a recent survey commissioned by iCIMS, a provider of talent acquisition solutions:

  • 14 percent of new hires within small companies with 99 or fewer employees come from referrals
  • 24 percent of new hires within medium companies (100 to 999 employees) come from referrals
  • 27 percent of new hires within companies with 1,000 or more employees come from referrals

Set their replacement up for success

First impressions are extremely important, as studies show the first 90 days are “make or break” for a new employee. 20 percent of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days of employment, so making a great first impression is key. Create an engaging onboarding experience devoid of bureaucratic paperwork by turning to an automated business platform that offers paperless onboarding, like FingerCheck360. Make their first day positive and productive by coupling them with a peer, mentor, or coach who can train them and give them an opportunity to learn and get involved.

Keep your star employee in your network and invite them to return

Your employee is leaving, but that doesn’t mean the relationship has to end entirely. If you want to retain them, offer them a freelance opportunity or a consultant position. If they’re unable to take you up on the offer, tell them your door is always open and that you would love to have them back if and when the timing is right. End on a positive note and wish them well for their service. Consider treating them to lunch or a farewell party as a nice gesture.

Having a superstar employee leave is always frustrating, but as the saying goes, when one door closes a window opens. Instead of feeling powerless in this time of transition, kick things into high gear and clear the position for someone who can breathe new life into the job. For more on what to do before an employee leaves, check out our checklist.

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