Retention: How You Should React When Your Best Employee Resigns

Sally Hetherington   23 September, 2020
Workplace Featured

No matter the size of your business or your team, we’re sure you have that one employee that is the glue that holds everything together. It’s team members like these that keep HR managers on their toes with their staff retention strategies.

While you may adopt the hire slow and fire fast philosophy for those that don’t gel within your organisation, nobody wants to let go of their best employees. You might have all the systems in place to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that you work towards employee motivation and job satisfaction. Then out of nowhere you find out that one of your best employees wants to resign.

You feel a mix of emotions - ranging from shock and betrayal to sadness and resignation. You wonder is your retention strategy not working. But how can you put these feelings aside and move forward?

Stay Calm

The first and most obvious thing to do is to put your emotions to one side. Your employee has their reasons for wanting to move on and these might not be apparent or easy to discuss. Remain calm and tactful to hear their side of the story and remember that it may not be that this is about money.

According to Forbes, reasons could include feeling overworked, not being challenged enough, feeling stifled, not being given opportunities to develop, feeling underappreciated and of course feeling undervalued. Make sure you listen carefully to allow yourself time and space to potentially come up with an alternative solution to retain the employee and give them another means of job satisfaction.

However be aware that if a higher salary is not the motivation for their wanting to leave, simply paying more will only work in the short term and may create feelings of resentment from your employee who may feel coerced into staying, and ultimately leave later anyway.

Click here for more truths about employee retention that might surprise you!

Cover Your Legal Bases

Should your employee still want to resign, approach HR to make sure that both parties cover all their legal obligations. These can range from final payouts of salary or accrued benefits or salary sacrifice compensations to signing non-disclosure agreements and returning company property.

HR payroll software company HR Payroll Systems recommends that you create a check-list to make sure that you remember all legalities for future reference so that everything is done above board and that nothing ever comes back to haunt you in the future.

Start With the Practicalities

Once your employee has officially handed in their resignation, it’s time to start the practicalities. Apart from the legal obligations above, start by informing the rest of your team and explain how responsibilities will be delegated until a replacement can be found.

It takes time to replace a good employee, so it might be an idea to find out exactly who does what in your workplace to see how tasks can be shared equally and that nobody feels overburdened. You may find that someone within your team might be ready for a promotion to replace the employee that is leaving, leaving a potentially easier gap to fill further down the ladder.

Click here to find out more about the importance of UX in the recruitment process.

employee resigns

The Exit Interview

According to the goal of an exit interview is to “use feedback to improve upon your leadership and your business… and avoid losing talent in the future.” This is an excellent strategy to move forward and prevent future employee retention problems. This is a more formal space to gather information, so it is important to ask the right questions and really listen to the answers.

Don’t take anything personally and be open to genuine feedback. Once completed take time to review and make changes to your employee engagement strategy, where necessary.

If you have a high staff turn-over, accept that something needs to change. Exit interviews are the first step to finding out where the problem lies and how to change the pattern and improve job satisfaction going forward. Use the opportunity to take a hard look at your leadership approach to see where you can improve your company culture from top-down.

Having a key staff member resign can be a challenge however it doesn’t have to be the worst thing that can happen. Use the opportunity to find out where you can improve job satisfaction and always keep communication open to avoid future resignations and have a happy and productive team. For more ways to improve employee retention, book a demo with us to find out how we can keep your top talent engaged.

Sally Hetherington

Full time teen wrangler, part time writer, passionate traveller and wannabe chef.

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