Out of nowhere your soon to be former employee wants to withdraw their resignation. You’ve been processing the pain and/or joy from that resignation letter, and suddenly the employee wants it back? They have come asking, maybe even demanding that they be allowed to withdraw their resignation. Can they do that? Should you accept this withdrawal? Do you have a choice? Let’s discuss.
Can an Employee Withdraw Their Resignation?
The short answer here is an employee can ask to withdraw the resignation…but the employer makes the decision. It is entirely the employer’s choice as to whether to allow this to happen. There is no obligation to do so and no repercussions should they say no. Simply put, the employer has the power in this situation and not the employee.
Should You Allow an Employee to Withdraw Their Resignation?
So, that’s the question – and of course a question with myriad answers.
Firstly, if the sensation that came with the original resignation was one of relief. If the worker was not performing despite you showing the coaching skills of Pep Guardiola, or he was as hard to manage and work with as your average Russian dictator then the answer to the above would be a resounding no.
Politely inform the worker that you have moved on, there is no legal obligation on your part to allow the resignation to be withdrawal. You wish them all the best in their subsequent endeavors, but this chapter is closed.
The difficulty comes with those who you don’t want to see leave. The person you have a decent professional relationship with! The one who you thought was a team player, could deliver against the odds and seemed so happy!
The temptation is to allow a good worker to rescind their resignation request and think everything will be fine. To do so without understanding their agenda leaves you open to a repeat of this in several week’s time. Therefore, no matter how tempting; do not just say yes and leave things at that.
Interrogate The Situation
As mentioned above, why did they have this change of heart? Why did they say they wanted to leave, what stopped them loving you? Was it a salary factor, a problem within the business, a life change or a desire to do something new?
Some of these issues are in your power to change, some of them are not. Are you able (and prepared) to implement changes in the business to bring them back in and is this worthwhile? This situation can be used as a two-way learning process for both parties.
If this is a failed relationship where you try again but neither party changes anything – from personal experience…I think we know how that ends!
Whose Agenda Does This Benefit?
Letting an employee withdraw their resignation and continue with an organisation must be a win/win scenario for all parties. If on the surface it only benefits one party…don’t do it.
If the worker is grabbing onto their job for their own reasons (i.e. nothing internal to the employers’ business has changed) and could resign again in a few weeks, well, does that work for you?
Plenty of businesses kick things down the line for their own convenience. The employer must decide whether to stick with the old or bring in the new. Both have pros and cons but what benefits the business?
A New Chapter
If you do keep the worker on, don’t just say “see you Monday” and carry on as before. You need to start the onboarding process again. You need to make them feel welcome, socially accepted by the business and you need to walk-the-walk on the action points discussed.
If you said you could tweak the role to suit the worker better, then do it! Implement those changes and stick to them. If an announcement has been made that the employee was leaving then reverse that communication. This is a new beginning.
An employee wanting to withdraw their resignation is not always an easy thing to navigate. You will have to evaluate the worker and their rational for it. But make no mistake, the decision rests with the employer.
If you allow them to withdraw their resignation, monitor their progress and engage with them to ensure they are happy with their decision. There is no harm in having one eye on the recruitment market to ensure you have measures in place to bring in a replacement should the worker still be looking to leave but be careful with this as, if you keep them on, the intention should be that that is a long-term decision.
An employee wishing to retract their resignation is a learning opportunity. Explore it, discuss it, implement change if needed, but ultimately decide what benefits the business.
About The Author
Daniel Oldfield is the Branch Manager of The Recruitment Lab, a Brighton recruitment agency. He has worked in Recruitment for six years. He has a degree in Journalism and considers himself a film and music buff. Daniel also runs The Brighton Film Club review site in his own time. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would like to express your thoughts just contact Dan through The Recruitment Lab website.