“Help! How do I motivate staff on their notice?”

It’s tough to manage an employee working their notice period.

They’re leaving. They’ve got a new job. Their head’s elsewhere, and their heart’s not in the work.

But as an employer, you need everyone at their best. If one person starts to take it easy, it’s going to impact the success of your company and make your other staff unhappy.  

So how do you keep your employee working hard? And what should you do to stop them disrupting the rest of your workforce?

Here are five tips to help you get the best from your staff during their final few weeks…

1. Find out why they’re leaving

Start by holding a formal exit interview to find out the reasons behind the departure. Ask your employee what they didn’t like about the job, and what’s stopping them from giving their best.

Then, use their feedback to find ways to re-engage them for the rest of their notice period.

If they say they’d have liked more recognition, start praising them and their colleagues. If they’d have liked more transparency, start holding regular catch-ups.

Staff members will feel valued when they see you put their ideas into practice. Their morale will shoot up, and they’ll work harder as a result.

For more info on how to carry out successful exit interviews, take a look at Peninsula’s in-depth guide.

2. Assert your company rules

If your employee has a new job waiting for them, they might start to think your rules no longer apply and drop their standards.

If you spot the employee turning up late, or taking longer for lunch, gently warn them that they still need to follow company policies.

Staff may not realise it, but your disciplinary procedures still apply during their notice periods. You can warn, discipline or even dismiss departing employees for poor behaviour.

And if you or a senior colleague mention instances of misconduct when you give a reference, the new employer could even retract the job offer.

By reminding your staff that misbehaviour could damage their job prospects, you should help deter them from easing their efforts and disrupting others.

3. Stay cool, calm and professional

It can hurt to hear that an employee wants to leave you. Especially when it’s someone you work so closely with.

But it’s not personal—it’s a part of life. The average UK employee changes jobs every five years.

Make sure that you don’t treat your employee differently because they’ve decided to leave.

Helping them to feel included during their final weeks is a great way to lift their spirits and work ethic.

4. Make the most of their expertise

As your employee’s leaving date grows closer, think carefully about the work you give them.

Shorter tasks will help to motivate your employee because they’ll still be around to see the results of their work.

You could also ask them to write succession plans if you’re hiring a replacement, or to teach their colleagues how to take on the new duties.

Asking the employee to train others will help remind them of the responsibilities they still have.

The chance to show off their skills will give them a timely confidence boost too, spurring them on to work hard and leave a good final impression.

5. Cut your losses if you have to

In an ideal world, your employee will work hard during their notice period and leave your business on good terms.

But if they’re proving to be disruptive, and you don’t want to discipline or dismiss them, it may be easier to ask them to go before their notice period ends.

Your two options are garden leave and payment in lieu of notice, and the route you take depends on the wording in your staff contracts.

Both, however, end in you paying your employee not to work. It’s an expensive decision, so before you make up your mind you should talk your situation through with an HR expert.

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