As an employer, one of the least desired scenarios is having to be on the receiving end of a resignation letter. Especially when it comes from an employee you deem valuable and don’t want to see leave.
However unpleasant, these situations are inevitable, so, instead of dwelling on any negativity, it’s best you tackle them head-on.
One of the first steps in handling employee resignation is to compose a professional response to a resignation letter.
If you’re not sure where to start, this article will go over helpful tips, examples, and templates for following best practices regarding writing a reply to a resignation letter.
Let’s jump right in.
- To respond to a resignation letter professionally, be sure to maintain a formal style throughout your response letter or email.
- Whether you fully accept your employee’s resignation or plan to counter-offer the resignation and negotiate — state a clear response.
- To keep things professional and part on good terms, be sure to show you understand your employees’ decision to leave.
- Add a quick “Thank you” to show gratitude for their hard work and effort.
- Outline the next steps clearly.
- Wish them well.
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So, responding to a resignation letter as an employer is important because it formally solidifies the next steps with the employee.
But, how do you compose the perfect response to a resignation letter?
- Use a formal business letter writing style,
- State a clear response,
- Express understanding,
- Show gratitude,
- Outline the next steps clearly, and
- Wish them well.
Try to maintain a formal style throughout your response letter or email. This applies to:
- Language, and
- Tone you use when replying to a resignation letter.
This may sound counterintuitive to what most professionals are becoming used to nowadays. We are becoming increasingly accustomed to semi-formal or informal types of communication and overall workplace environment and conduct. Yet, some forms of business writing (resignation acceptance letter being one of them) still very much lend themselves to formal communication.
Formal tone and format are perfect for writing an official response to a resignation letter because they:
- Are clear and reliable — Leave less room for misunderstandings and miscommunication.
- Feel less personal — Thus making the exchange more official and less likely to introduce any awkwardness or excessive feelings.
So, to ensure you’re upholding the standards of formal communication in your response to a resignation letter, be sure to:
- Use a formal tone,
- Avoid contractions,
- Address people formally and by their official titles,
- Refrain from using personal pronouns,
- Use professional jargon,
- Remain direct and straightforward, and
- Format your letter according to the standard business letter format style which includes:
- Writing your name and contact information, date, and your employee name and position in the top left corner of the letter, and
- Signing off the letter with your handwritten signature and your name typed below.
For example, you can open your letter with something along these lines:
Dear Sam Jones,
Please refer to your email dated 9.7.2023, offering your resignation from the position of Product Marketing Manager at Beyond the Retail. I am writing to formally acknowledge your resignation…
Chances are that not all your responses will necessarily be resignation acceptance letters.
In some cases, a team member you find very valuable will hand in their notice, which will leave you bargaining to keep them at all costs.
Either way, you’ll first have to express this in your response clearly.
So, whether you fully accept your employee’s resignation or plan to counter-offer the resignation and negotiate — make this crystal clear.
This way, you’re maintaining direct communication and making sure there are no misunderstandings.
For example, you can state:
“We formally acknowledge and accept your letter of resignation received on December 23, 2023.”
“I formally acknowledge receipt of your resignation notice on January 16, 2024. I have reviewed your resignation with the other managers, and we all wish to find a way to encourage you to stay with us.”
Career & Leadership Coach, Ayanna E. Jackson — adds that acknowledging an employee’s decision to leave is more than a sign of good etiquette:
“When an employee submits their resignation, the first step is to acknowledge it promptly and professionally. This isn’t just about good manners; it’s about setting a positive tone and good collaboration for the remainder of their tenure. A simple acknowledgment can go a long way in maintaining a respectful and professional relationship.”
Despite not being happy to see the employee leave, remember to stay professional and show you understand their decision.
You may fail to see their logic or take an unbiased view at first, but you’ll need to show consideration for their choice and reasoning if you want to keep things professional and part on good terms.
Another one of our contributors — Certified Professional Career Coach, Claire Burke — highlights the importance of acknowledging receipt of the resignation and showing understanding:
“Start by greeting the employee and acknowledging receipt of their letter. Demonstrate active listening (or in this case, active reading) by reiterating the employee’s decision – for example, ‘We understand your desire to take on new responsibilities at a larger company.’”
To make a difference and show you understand your employee’s reasons and respect their decision, add something along these lines:
“I understand your decision to resign to attend to a family matter.”
Even if the employee’s resignation has left you feeling a bit disappointed, there’s no point in letting it ruin the professional relationship and the entire experience you’ve had working together.
Receiving a resignation letter has the potential of leaving a bitter taste in your mouth, but what about all the great work, laughs, and conversations you shared during the employee’s time in the company?
Show them it wasn’t in vain.
Don’t forget to add a quick “Thank you” to remind them you appreciate their hard work and commitment to the company, as Claire Burke told us:
“Show gratitude for that employee’s accomplishments, and if you have specific examples of how that employee has positively impacted the organization, share them.”
“Thank you for all you have done for our team and the company as a whole. Your time and effort have been instrumental in making the company and its culture what they are today.”
Even if the resignation letter mentions nothing about the next steps, don’t hesitate to detail the offboarding process in your reply.
Make sure to clearly outline:
- Employee’s last day with the company,
- Official offboarding procedures, and
- A step-by-step handover process.
Providing a precise and detailed exiting process can help clear any questions or dilemmas that may arise for both the employee leaving and other team members.
Here’s how that can look in practice:
“Attached, you will find information for exiting employees regarding legal and financial matters as well as a step-by-step process of handing over company-owned property before your last day of work, January 31, 2024.”
After you’ve covered all the bases, all that’s left to do is bid them farewell and part ways in good faith.
This is also the part where you can offer to write a recommendation letter to the exiting employee.
Doing so will help ease any uncomfortable feelings for both parties and have a pleasant and professional closure while leaving the door open for any potential collaboration in the future.
Here’s an example:
“It has been an honor and pleasure working with you, and all of us at ABC company wish you the very best in the future. Please do not hesitate to ask if you need a letter of recommendation.”
Moreover, as our expert contributor, Ayanna E. Jackson mentioned, this is the perfect moment to ask the employee to take part in the exit interview and use the findings to your advantage:
“If your company conducts exit interviews, make the most of this opportunity. It’s a chance to gain honest feedback about your management style, team dynamics, and workplace environment. This feedback can be invaluable for personal growth and organizational improvement.”
Now that we’ve covered how to respond to a resignation letter, it’s time to observe these tips in practice.
Below, we’ll offer 3 sample replies to resignation letters you can use as a structure to build on and customize with specific case-by-case details.
First things first, let’s cover an example of a basic response to a resignation letter.
You can use the example and template below for any type of resignation acceptance letter you might encounter, as there are no distinct elements that need to be applied.
At the same time, you can use this generic reply as a foundation to build off of when you’re not sure where to start.
Let’s take a look.
Subject: Resignation Acceptance
January 13, 2024
Senior Finance Manager
Beyond the Retail
It is with a heavy heart that I formally confirm and accept your official resignation from the position of Brand Strategist at Beyond the Retail. As requested, your last day will be January 31, 2024.
It has been a real pleasure and honor working with you, and the team at Beyond the Retail has no doubt that your positive attitude and hard work will secure tremendous success in any future endeavors.
We were sorry to hear you will be moving on from BTR, but we understand your decision to pursue new opportunities.
Please find attached the legal and financial documents and information exiting employees may need going forward.
Also, please make sure to return all company property (including laptop, keys, ID badge, parking pass, and any other company-owned items you may be in possession of) on or before your last day of work.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or HR should you have any questions.
On behalf of the entire team, I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.
Senior Finance Manager, Beyond the Retail
Next, we’ll go over an example of a reply to a resignation letter that (tries to) counter the resignation and negotiate a way to keep the employee.
Here’s how you can formulate a resignation letter response when you want to negotiate to keep the employee in the company.
January 23, 2024
This is to formally acknowledge receipt of your resignation notice on January 22, 2024. I have reviewed your resignation with the other managers, and we all wish to find a way to encourage you to stay with us.
We understand the dissatisfaction of being long overdue for a promotion and the decision to pursue other opportunities. However, we would like to underline the immense appreciation we have for your work ethic, dedication, and valuable contributions you have made during your time at ABC Designs company. While we respect your decision, we would also like to express our intention to try to find a way to keep you on our team.
We would like to propose that you stay under changed and hopefully more favorable conditions. You will be offered a promotion to the position of Design Manager in two months, or as soon as the company’s restructuring process is completed.
In the meantime, you will be able to wrap up your current projects and start the transitioning process with the corresponding pay raise. We hope this solution will give you a clearer perspective of your career trajectory and offer a more favorable incentive to decide to stay at ABC Designs.
I hope you will consider this counteroffer and decide to stay with us. Either way, we will respect your decision and appreciate the contribution you have made to the growth of our team and organization.
Design Director, ABC Designs
For our 3rd and final resignation response letter example, we’ll offer another take on the standard resignation acceptance letter.
You can use this template to outline your response to a resignation letter and strike a perfect balance between polite and formal replies while making sure you’re not leaving out any important details.
Let’s take a look at the example below.
Subject: Resignation acceptance letter
January 18, 2024
Dear Mark Riley,
Please refer to your email dated January 17, 2024, offering your resignation from the position of Associate Attorney at Law Partners. I am writing to formally acknowledge and accept your resignation effective January 31, 2024.
Although it is with a heavy heart that we are seeing you leave, we understand your decision to pause your career to take care of a family member.
On behalf of the entire team at Law Partners, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for all you have done for our team and the company as a whole. Your hard work and positive mindset have been instrumental in propelling the company forward.
Please find attached information for exiting employees regarding legal and financial matters as well as a step-by-step process of handing over company-owned property before your last day of work, January 31, 2024.
If you wish, you can apply to complete the Exit Form or participate in an Exit Interview to help us collect and analyze feedback data.
It has been an honor and pleasure working alongside you, and the team at Law Partners wishes you the very best in your future endeavors. If the circumstances change and you decide to return to work at any time in the future, rest assured that our doors will always be open for you.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Thank you again for your work here at Law Partners. Keep in touch and all the best.
Senior Partner, Law Partners
A proper and timely response to a resignation letter can help you:
- Keep a formal record of the resignation letter and response for future reference,
- Outline offboarding dates and tasks,
- Improve your organization’s reputation and referral potential, and
- Make a counter-offer and negotiate to keep the employee.
So, whether you plan to accept the resignation and part with the employee or try to convince them to stay by countering their resignation with a better offer, a professional response to a resignation letter is your best bet for setting the stage.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at all the reasons you should make an effort to write a proper response to a resignation letter.
A timely and professional response to a resignation letter serves a very important purpose from a practical and legal point of view. It helps you keep everything on record and serves as an official reference in case of any potential misunderstandings.
As we mentioned in the examples above, by replying to a resignation letter, you’re making sure the departing employee receives all the details regarding deadlines for critical offboarding tasks and procedures.
Again, this ensures all procedures and processes are taken care of and the risk of miscommunication is significantly reduced.
The effort and good faith you put into welcoming and onboarding new employees should ideally match the effort you put into bidding them farewell. Just as seamless onboarding helps your new hires feel comfortable and ready to put their best foot forward, a proper offboarding practice serves your long-term goals of building a positive employer brand.
Burke echoes this sentiment and elaborates on how the serial position effect impacts the organization’s public status:
“Human beings are naturally more inclined to remember the first and last items in a sequence – it’s called the serial position effect, and it’s the reason that a movie’s beginning and ending sticks in your head more than the middle scenes. The same can be true for an employee’s experience with a company, which can in turn impact your organization’s reputation and referral potential. The serial position effect is one of many reasons why it’s crucial to have a seamless onboarding and offboarding process.”
Similarly, as Ayanna E. Jackson pointed out, your response to a resignation letter also highly reflects on your employee morale and culture as a whole:
“As managers, we often face the challenging task of responding to an employee’s resignation notice. It’s a scenario that can elicit a range of emotions — from surprise and stress to disappointment. However, the way we handle these resignations can significantly impact our team’s morale and our company’s culture.”
Reason #4: A professional response to a resignation creates an opportunity to make a counter-offer and keep the employee
Finally, responding to a resignation letter can serve as the perfect opportunity to make an appealing counter-offer and try to keep a valuable employee. By clearly stating your intentions and offering concrete benefits in your response letter, you’re expressing a clear and official intention that carries a significant weight and can make all the difference.
Moreover, a professional response to a resignation letter also leaves the door open for future potential collaboration, as Burke pointed out:
“An employee’s resignation may signify that their time with your company has come to an end, but that does not mean that your relationship with that employee is over.
Many employees are open to returning to their former employers in the future, and even those who aren’t could be a strong source of referrals to your organization.
This is especially true when you respond to employee resignation letters in a manner that aligns with your cultural values.”
Email doesn’t have to be your default mode of communication with departing employees. Depending on your level of formality and the types of communication channels you commonly use, you can switch to other formats when arranging final details with people leaving your company.
You can use a team communication app such as Pumble to handle all internal communication in your team.
Use direct messages in Pumble to finalize all offboarding details and negotiate potential counter-offers, or start a thread or a video call and include all the relevant team members in the conversation.
You can use Pumble to share files and documents of any size, from any device or cloud storage service, and ensure the departing employee has all the relevant resources.
With a simple user-friendly interface and plenty of customizable options, Pumble helps you facilitate smooth team communication and collaboration from start to finish. So, if you want to test it out yourself — try Pumble for free today!