Having seen people come and go from companies, and also having been in the situation myself a number of times, I am curious as to what the reasons behind letting the team know that a person is leaving early versus the opposite extreme which is letting them know on the day that the person is leaving.

I assume that apart from the person who is coming in or taking over the role, there is no specific need for people to know (since they are not involved in the handover), but from the team's perspective they may like to know that the HR or manager keeps them in the loop about these things.

Drawing a similar analogy from sporting teams where they can transfer players during the middle of the season, it certainly has a lot of impact in terms of team stability and morale.

My question is, what is the benefit of leaving this information until the very last day, and would it be better to let people know earlier rather than later?


I've experienced both approaches, both when I was leaving and when someone else was leaving. A big factor in the decision is "the need to know". If the outgoing person has a large number of job-related interactions with other departments and personnel, the tendency is to get the word out sooner than later. However, in departments with a high level of redundancy, the need may not be as pressing. In any case, the final decision boils down to a combination of management style, organizational culture, and the perceived value of the outgoing employee.

Human Resources tends to wait until the last minute, because there is typically an exit process, and they don't want to make it official until the likelihood is high that the employee won't change their mind. Direct supervisors tend to share the information early, especially if workload adjustments must be made. Some supervisors will also hold on to the information, and encourage the outgoing employee not to share their news until the last possible moment. In my experience, the reason lies more in how the exit will be perceived by those who are left behind, and whether the departure will spark an exodus.

  • This. If the person worked with a lot of outside departments I generally got an email about it about a week before they left giving enough time to get any info from that person and to state who would be the point of contact after they left. If they didn't have this kind of broad role I either heard it from them personally or found out after they left. If HR told me day of it was generally because the person was getting canned and they wanted people to know not to let them back into the building (though that wasn't explicitly stated that way). Jun 3 '16 at 22:10

Frankly, I can't think of any advantage from an organisational point of view. Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone agrees.

Anyway, as you say, there are issues of morale - people can be averse to change, and sudden departures from an organisation are a pretty big change.

It is certainly better to be up front about people who will be leaving - especially as it allows management to communicate any necessary change in responsibilities during and after the handover period.

However, some individuals may request that their decision to leave be kept quiet - they might not want to field the inevitable "Why?" that other staff will ask (for many personal reasons), or have other reasons. This still needs some management, though, as a handover will still have to take place.

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