What To Do When An Employee Says They’re Going To Another Job

Guidance for Employers

What To Do When An Employee Says They’re Going To Another Job

Here are 5 steps you should take when a valued employee hands in their notice. You may not be able to convince them to stay, but these will ensure they leave on the best possible terms.

employee retention

No employee retention strategy is ever going to be so lock tight that your employees never leave. People move jobs for all kinds of reason that aren’t necessarily a negative reflection on your organisation or employer brand. So although you may be heart broken that your top employee is moving on, there are opportunities here – at least to use this experience to make your organisation even better.

5 Actions To Take When A Good Employee Quits

It’s a costly business when a top employee decides to leave. The disruption it causes internally can reduce productivity within a department or across the company depending on the employee’s position. It can result in lost clients, affect customer service, and be disastrous for morale. Then there is the cost of replacing that member of staff, and of getting new recruits up to speed so that productivity returns to normal.

So what should you do when an employee says they’re leaving? Here are 5 actions to take:

  1. Listen

Before throwing up your arms in despair and berating that employee for having the audacity to leave, stop and listen. Don’t think about the consequences of them quitting, instead focus on the reasons why and be empathetic.

Try also to find out more so you can get a clear idea of the role they’re moving to, and why this offer may be more attractive to them than remaining in their current position. Be open and interested and ask them about the company, the people they’ll be working with, the challenges of the role etc. This will not only help you get the big picture but will also help your employee focus on the offer. In fact having an impartial chat about the role and their career may make them consider whether they actually want to go through with it.

  1. Consider Whether You Want To Lose Them Or Not

It’s hard not to take an employees’ notice without being a little insulted or upset they want to leave. Unless you know that there are issues with staff retention in your company, it can often feel like a personal affront. However sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise, when a poor performing employee decides to go or someone leaves a role you have identified as not being aligned with your business strategy.

Having had an open conversation about the reasons your employee is leaving, and the job they are going to, it’s now time to consider how much you want them to stay. If their departure is just a minor annoyance that involves recruiting a placement and on boarding them, it is probably best to wish them well and good luck for the future.

However, if you really, really want to keep them you now need to do your best to retain them.

  1. Is A Counter Offer A Good Idea?

Unless the departure of a key employee is seriously going to damage your company, a counter offer is generally not a great idea. Employees are not just motivated by the salary (although there may be exceptions when people are under financial pressure) and their reasons for leaving are more likely to do with culture and opportunity than hard cash. Therefore a counter offer even when accepted might not resolve the core issues of why that employee put themselves on the job market.

A better approach would be to use the information you have found out about their job offer and their reasons for leaving, to paint a picture of their future with your company. Highlight the benefits of staying and, if you haven’t already, look at how you can improve their role to give them those benefits your competitor is offering. Naturally any change of role, additional training or accelerated promotion must be aligned with your business strategy, not a kneejerk reaction to retain someone you like.

If an employee is looking to move for practical reasons such as the cost of travel eroding their take home pay or financial problems necessitating that they find a higher paying role, there may be ways you can help alleviate these pressures. For example, support with travel costs will have beneficial impact on your employee’s standard of living, without needing a salary increase. It may also be possible to offer financial assistance in the form of an affordable loan, through a 3rd party provider, for staff that have money worries. Practical issues like these can often be resolved with some creative thinking.

  1. Learning From Your Departing Employee

Whether you want to retain them or not, it’s inevitable that you will have some level of employee churn. As well as managing their transition out and recruiting their replacement, now is also the time to learn from them too. Set up an exit interview so you can have an open conversation about the role they’re leaving, the organisation, and management, to get feedback and suggestions. Explore positives and negatives. The positives can be built on to help you attract and retain future and existing employees. The negatives can be looked at subjectively and addressed where appropriate. Criticisms can be hard to take but are important for developing robust employee engagement and retention strategies.

Also consider what you can learn from the company your departing employee is going to. This is a great opportunity to get some competitor intelligence; specifically what other organisation are offering candidates and the direction they are going in. Of course, your employee can’t reveal their future employee’s secrets, but the information about the role they are going to, the team they will be working with, and the type of work they will be doing, is all useful to know.

  1. Don’t Burn Your Bridges

We can never be sure what the future holds and you never know when your paths may cross again. Perhaps you will have an opening for a more senior role in the next five years and your former employee is a perfect fit. Or your organisation partners with another company and you find yourself working with that employee again. Or you may even find yourself being interviewed for a role in a new company where that former employee works. All good reasons for ensuring employees leave the company on a high.

Therefore, especially if they are valued employees give them a good send off; thank them for their contribution, recognise their achievements and celebrate their successes. Make sure that former employees continue to be brand advocates for your company, that they have positive things to say about their experience with you, and that they would consider returning in the future if the right opportunity presented itself.

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