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How Can Middle-Managers Positively React to Resignation Letters

Every business anticipates employee resignations at some point. While it is difficult even under the best of circumstances, it is critical to handle a resignation gently, tactfully, and professionally. We outline some response strategies and advice for middle-managers here.

When an employee in your team verbally declares their decision to leave, it is best practice for you, as the middle manager, to request a signed formal resignation letter. This allows you to obtain a written explanation for the employee’s resignation, which you’d need to sign off as a form of acceptance.

It’s important to note that your employee won’t be required to share their reasons for leaving in the resignation letter. If you want to know regardless, an exit interview is the ideal way to go. It can also help you glean useful feedback on many elements includings company culture, training opportunities, remuneration rates and more before your employee leaves.

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At times, employees may wish to give themselves one more chance, which means they may intent to withdraw their resignation letter. With many possibilities, it’s important that middle managers follow a sound process when addressing an employee’s intention to leave, so there is no room for miscommunication. Let’s start with these tips:

1. Accept the resignation in writing

A written record of your acceptance – in the form of a reply to the resignation letter – is essential for ensuring that everyone is on the same page. It also provides a level of protection to both parties in the event of fallout.

Your acknowledgement letter can include:

  • An outline of the offboarding process so the employee knows what to expect before their last day
  • The key dates for offboarding tasks such as returning a building key, ID badge or laptop
  • Date of exit interview

This way, you and your staff have a clear understanding of the process which exists as an official record. This allows parties to plan out and account for their rights and responsibilities leading up to the employee’s last day.

Ensure your employee knows whether they are required to train a replacement or establish a system of delegation until a replacement is found. Establishing this early on will save you the struggle of finding a replacement for the position.

What do you do if your employee changes their decision

Should your employee choose to withdraw their resignation letter, be clear what the next steps will entail – will they be reinstated in their role based on the same contract as though they never tendered, or will a new contract with fresh terms be offered?

As a middle manager, you’d want to provide the best for them, but chances are you may be limited by the rules of upper management. To avoid a situation when you feel you could not fight what your employee wished for, be clear about the processes involved if they choose to stay after the letter is sent in.

The best time to discuss this is when your employee verbally shares their intention to leave.

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2. Be courteous and professional

It’s no secret that industries across Singapore are experiencing what’s been called ‘The Great Resignation’. For an array of reasons, staff are resigning en-masse, leading to increased workloads and stress for middle managers.

Despite this, it is important that you remain courteous and professional with each resignation letter. Be empathetic towards your staff’s personal and professional goals. After all, your company may not be the long-term answer to every employee’s career objectives.

Yes, it may not be ideal to have one of your best staff leave, but you owe them a professional send off. Not only does this speak volumes of your company but it also reflects your role as a supportive and understanding manager.

3. Encourage and respect their decision

Is your staff moving on to their dream job? Have they finally decided to retire after a long career? Or are they simply moving onto a new trajectory? No matter what the reason, you should show your full support for their next move.

This can be done in a few different ways. Simply offering congratulations or your well-wishes can be a good start. Some managers decide to bring a cake or a box of sweets into the office to celebrate the employee’s last day, or send a card around on which everyone can write something special about their colleague.

A small gift to accompany them on their journey like an indoor plant or a personalised pen can also be a thoughtful gesture.

These actions cost very little, but go a long way in establishing a work culture and community that is healthy and dedicated.

4. Get support from your workplace

With the resignation wave in Singapore, it’s no surprise that middle managers like yourself will be hit hard. The stress of increased workload and what feels like a reflection and test of your management skills can leave you burnt out.

If your duty becomes unsustainable, or if you have domestic responsibilities that make the extra load unbearable, approaching upper management to request for relief or assistance is a wise step.

This could include a pay raise to facilitate childcare or senior care arrangements, or promoting a co-manager to split the load with.

Dealing with manpower shortages and additional load of retraining can make your role more challenging, but with the right tips and support, you can navigate any hurdle professionally. Of course, this starts with taking care of your employees while acknowledging the hard work of those before they leave.

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