How to Deal with the Loss of a Key Employee

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Having an employee leave your company is never an enjoyable experience. It almost always comes as a surprise and can put you in a tough spot. And while you can’t always prepare for a sudden departure, you can prepare for how you’ll respond in the minutes, hours, and days after that news is delivered. Let’s take a look at some good advice for how to handle these cumbersome situations:

·         Conduct an exit interview. Unless you conduct an exit interview with the employee before they leave, you’ll probably never know exactly why they chose to move on. You may assume that it’s related to money, but one study suggests the reasons behind employees’ decisions to leave rarely have to do with pay. What caused the employee to leave? It could be anything from a lack of recognition or flexibility to a hostile workplace environment or disrespect. Finding out may not allow you to retain the employee, but it will help you learn.

·         Don’t overreact. Other employees will be watching your reaction. You can’t afford to blow up or slam your fist. Take the news like a mature professional and wish the employee the best of luck. Thank them for their time and ask for an exit interview. It’s easier said than done, but nonetheless important.

·         Start the hiring process. If you’re in shock, disappointed, or angry, it can seem unnatural to immediately jump into hiring mode – but it’s necessary. The last thing you can afford is to leave the position vacant for weeks or months to come. The sooner you get a qualified body in the position, the quicker you’ll recover and move on. Hiring a recruiter to fill your vacancy is ideal, as it allows you to continue focusing on the other things that demand your attention.

·         Pay attention to the rest of your employees. Letting this issue consume you won’t benefit the rest of your business. You should pay attention to the employees you have on staff and explain to them that the business is stable and won’t be changing. You should also take any projects or assignments the former employee had and reassign them so there’s no delay. This is also a chance to see how certain employees respond and perform – which may give a glimpse into whether or not promoting from within is an option.

·         Implement new strategies. This may be a good time to reevaluate your hiring, retention, and management strategies. Ask yourself questions like, “Am I being clear enough with my job descriptions?” “Do I understand the issues my employees are going through in the workplace?” “What are some of the things employees want more/less of?” You can’t please everyone, but you may discover glaring issues that need to be fixed.

·         Identify key employees. Many businesses are afraid to identify key employees and let them know how highly regarded they are for fear that the employee will gain an upper hand. However, it’s a smart idea to at least silently note who those employees are so that you can place a special emphasis on satisfying their needs. You don’t want to play favorites, but you do need to keep your best employees happy.

·         Don’t let it happen again. Ultimately, you can’t let it happen again. By tweaking some strategies, grooming future leaders, and making an effort to better understand your workplace and employees, you can ensure more of the latter stick around for longer periods of time.

Keep More Employees

No matter how many times it happens, losing a key employee is painful. With these seven tips, you should be able to diminish the after effects while allowing your company to continue growing and improving for years to come.

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