When Your Star Employee Leaves You: What Should You Do?
Every now and then in the workplace, you get to work with someone who is truly exceptional at their job. Whether it is their ability to complete tasks quickly, come up with creative solutions to existing problems, or a desire to learn more, these team players are a manager’s dream. So what happens when they leave? To your team? To you?
You probably already know that the key to keeping employees isn’t only by having a competitive salary and unlimited vacation days. Good leaders recognize that helping an employee grow and succeed in their career is imperative to not just workplace happiness, but also in keeping them engaged in the work they are doing. No one wants to feel stuck in the same place everyday. Which leads us to the main part of this article; eventually, there may come a time when the star employee wants to make a change to where they work.
Implement an exit interview
Candidate experience doesn’t end the moment they sign on as an employee with your team, or even when they hand in their two-weeks notice. Now that they are going to a different company, you want to make a lasting (pun-intended) positive impression. You don’t want to miss an opportunity for them to be an ambassador to your brand.
First step? Find out why they are looking to leave. The goal isn’t to make them feel bad about their decision or second-guess themselves, but rather provide them an opportunity to give you feedback and make any possible changes to further improve your existing workplace. By the nature of them leaving the company, there are less barriers for them to share honest and valuable insights that may not come up from members of your current team.
Be open to keeping in contact with them. Suggest being a reference for them, even before they ask. Remember, referrals are a two-way street. While not a complete science, there is the saying that “like attracts like”. They too may be more inclined to refer more people of the same wavelength your way.
It’s not me, it’s you
When your star employee leaves your company while maintaining good relations with you, it means that you have done your job successfully as a leader. It shows that you were committed to them and willing to put in the resources to help them grow. This doesn’t just end when they go to another company; your existing employees will see this and feel motivated knowing that they are empowered and more than just a warm body.
Addressing the team
Just as you feel the impact, so does the rest of your team. Take the time to properly update your team on what is happening. After having the conversation with the leaving team-member, ask if they would like the opportunity to update the team personally. Should they decide they aren’t comfortable with the idea of it, you can share the news with something short and positive at the next team meeting.
“Louise did a great job in her role as we all know. I want to thank her for the energy she brought to this team. She’s found a new opportunity that she felt could help her grow professionally and I want to wish her amazing success in her career.”
Your positivity will show your team that there are no hard-feelings and encourages greater transparency in their conversations with you.
Don’t reach for the stars. Hire them.
Now we call them anomalies for a reason. Drawing from a surprising 2016 Gallup study, only 13% of employees are actively engaged, while 87% are not engaged (with 24% being actively disengaged). Teams consisting of employees who are actively engaged contribute 21% greater profitability and 17% higher productivity. This means that your number one priority if you lose a star employee (though we always encourage it to be top-of-mind), is to find another ASAP. Now you could always go on a hiring spree and hope that you find that one diamond after twenty or so hires. The risk, however, overlooking the exorbitant training and turnover costs, is bringing in unmotivated individuals that bring down the morale of the healthy work culture you work so hard to build up in your team.
Alternatively, through the use of pre-hire assessments, you can objectively see if candidates’ interests are compatible with the job-at-hand and have a high potential of success in the role. This means your entire hiring team can find the right addition by making the most informed decisions with consistency and confidence.