Strange things happen in organisations in response to new staff joining and existing staff leaving. We are usually delighted to have a brand new face on the team, but when they join, we rush them through an induction and set them to work. We are usually disappointed when someone we value resigns but when they leave we have a party – or at least a morning tea to say goodbye. Why don’t we celebrate both arrivals and departures? 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to join an organisation where at 10.30am on the first morning all the staff gather for morning tea to celebrate our arrival? A genuine, warm welcome would help reinforce our decision to take the job and would ensure everyone knew who we were, so they could acknowledge us when we pass in the hallway rather than have them stare blankly for the first month wondering about the new person. 

Similarly, we should celebrate it when someone resigns. If they are going on to something that is bigger and better than we can provide, why would we begrudge them the opportunity to advance their career? Let’s see part of our role as good corporate citizens to develop people of substance and character that can go on to make a terrific contribution elsewhere. We can celebrate their departure as a success story that we have prepared this person for that success. 

If they are leaving because of a level of dissatisfaction with the organisation, then we gain nothing from being vengeful and not wishing them well for the future. They will at least leave with one positive thing to say about the organisation. Their departure also allows some opportunity to address the issues that led to the resignation, in the hope of heading off the need for others to resign. 

A genuine, warm welcome would help reinforce our decision to take the job and ensure everyone knew who we were.

Celebrations such as these can sometimes appear extravagant in both time and catering. Yet the long-term positive benefits from both the arriving and departing staff are significant, plus the goodwill from all other staff in attendance far exceeds any costs. So much so that you may like to consider other excuses to celebrate staff. Excuses like the winning of a big contract or completion of a successful project are easy to spot. Others are less obvious such as a reduction in the outstanding debt levels by the accounts staff, or the achievement of a large number of hours without any computing downtime. Both these examples enable you to celebrate the work of those in the back office as well as those in customer facing roles. 

Arrange a first day morning tea to welcome the next staff member that joins your team. Introduce them to the group, sharing a little of their background. Depending on the number of people in your team, you could ask them to do a quick introduction as well.

At the next farewell speech, make a point of not only thanking the person for their contribution to your organisation, but wish them well for the future. Offer to provide support to them in the future to help them be successful in their new role.

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.