by Tom Isler; Illustration by Dave Wheeler | April 01, 2008

IllustrationWhen an employee leaves to accept a new job, colleagues often have to scramble until a new hire is in place. But human resources experts Greg Smith, founder and president of Atlanta-based Chart Your Course International, and Gregory Wilson, of Wilson HR Consulting in Long Beach, Calif., say there are simple things co-workers can do to ease turnover woes.

Set up a sit-down. Before a colleague walks out the door with valuable knowledge and experience, leaders should meet with her to brainstorm how duties can be reassigned. Cull her computer files so co-workers can benefit from work that’s already been done, and find out if she has any ideas for projects that colleagues might choose to champion after she leaves.

Make lists. Go over the departing employee’s unfinished projects to determine their status and what the next steps should be. Have the exiting employee list key business contacts and write to them alerting them of the change and offering an alternate contact.

Keep in touch. Don’t burn bridges. Ask if the colleague would be willing to field a question or two that might arise during the transition period.