Series Part 7: What to Do When Someone Quits

Illustration by Alabaster


No matter what you do, no matter how great your set up your café, people will eventually leave. There’s no question ”either a barista will find an opportunity in a new field, or they’ll find a shop that’s more in line with their vision and dreams for the future.

It’s hard to not take someone putting in his or her notice personally, but there are a number of ways to approach someone leaving your company. It’s important to remember that when someone leaves, they still carry the values and ideas you push for in your coffee shop. Here are a few tips keep in mind when a barista decides to quit.

  1. Treat them as alumni.

You know those annoying emails and calls you get from your college or high school asking for money? Or maybe your school has asked you to host a prospective student or speak at an alumni event? Treat your former employees the same way ”as alumni of your café. Your alumni are your advocates for you outside the physical space of your coffee shop. If you part with your baristas in a pleasant and positive manner, they’re likely to be your most vocal supporters in the field. I mean, look at all the times I’ve sang the praises of Variety. Why is that? Because when I quit, my boss took me aside, thanked me for all the hard work and time I put into the store, apologized that we didn’t get to do as much cool stuff as he wished, and then gave me $500.

Let’s compare this to another job I left, where my bosses wouldn’t talk to me for the duration of the three weeks I still had left at my job. They wouldn’t make eye contact; they didn’t thank me for my time with them; and on my last day, they left early so they didn’t have to be part of the group of employees who said goodbye. Make sure when someone leaves, their last experience is a good one.

  1. Always conduct an exit interview.

There are things your baristas might never tell you while in your employ because they’re scared. Even if you want to be open and receptive to feedback, there are certain things that are hard to say and even harder to hear. Knowing that a barista is leaving lifts the veil of secrecy, and you might find out things you’ve been doing that make work difficult. Even if you don’t agree with everything your soon-to-be ex-employee is saying, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be heard and to reflect on their time with you. Create a platform for baristas to have an open and honest discussion with you, and you might find out ways to improve the work experiences of the still-remaining members of your staff.

  1. Consider making a counter offer.

Sometimes, when a barista quits, it can be a relief for you and your staff ”perhaps they weren’t a great fit, but for staffing reasons you couldn’t let them go. But sometimes, a barista quits and you don’t want to lose them. If that’s the case, ask them what it would take to make them stay. Sometimes they simply have to go, but sometimes the answer might be a surprisingly simple thing. It could be a small raise, more responsibilities, different shifts, etc., and if you’re willing to compromise (which you might not be but that’s OK), you can avoid losing a valuable member of your staff.

  1. Leave the door open if applicable.

Have you ever had a hole in the schedule that you scramble to rearrange the schedule to fill, and there’s just simply no one to cover that shift? You know who might be able to do it? Your former employees. I’ve never worked at a café ”ever ”where a former employee wasn’t called upon to fill a random shift that no one could do. I’ve also never worked in a café where someone has left only to come back months later. The coffee world is small, and if you ever need a hand opening a cafe or are open to welcoming someone back into your store later, you should. Sometimes people need to leave before they realize that they loved working for you and want to come back.

We’ve tackled a lot of issues throughout this series, and some of them probably seem more straightforward than others. However, there might be situations that we didn’t cover that you’ll need to harness your strength and know-how as a leader. Next week, we’ll wrap up with some final thoughts and guidelines for overall success and happiness in the workplace.  

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at