How to Handle Losing a Top Employee

Losing top employee 1

You knew the day would come.

“It’s an offer I can’t refuse,” he said.

You mumble a quick congratulations, but the reality of all that talent, all that competence, all of that drive… going elsewhere.  It hurts.

In today’s market, job change is increasingly common.  A LinkedIn study of its 500 million users found that millennials change jobs an average of four times in their first decade out of college, compared to two changes by GenXers in their first 10 years out of college (reported on EdSurge).

Losing a top performing employee can cause major disruption to a business’s bottom line.  For the employer, it’s common to take an employee’s decision to leave personally.

But as a recruiter with years of experience in company transitions, it is my recommendation to put any personal feelings aside and react as positively as possible when an employee decides to leave.

Relationship Continues after Employee Leaves

Whether it’s through LinkedIn, a reference, or a resume, a relationship with a past employee will continue into the years ahead.  After the employee is physically gone, the company may still work with documents written by the employee, initiatives begun by the employee, or have questions only the former employee can answer.

A Smoother Transition

If an employee’s resignation is accepted on good terms, the job transition will go more smoothly.  Whether notice is for two weeks or longer, an outgoing employee still has time to write a job description for a replacement.  Well written step by step procedures for common tasks, document sharing, and communicating with contacts can save hours of future work.

Word of Mouth

There is power in words, and people like to talk about their past work experiences.  Whether it is word of mouth or a written review on a site like Glassdoor, it’s best to keep things positive.

Making Sure You Have a Good Environment

An organization loses the ability to leverage the strengths of its talent if people do not feel psychologically safe, says The Center for Creative Leadership.  When people can’t “complain” or talk about things that are not working, an organization cannot prevent future failure. “People need to feel comfortable speaking up, asking naïve questions, and disagreeing with the way things are in order to create ideas that make a real difference,” says David Altman, COO, the Center for Creative Leadership.

Employees who do not feel psychologically safe may fear negative reactions from their boss and feel uncomfortable sharing ideas. Others live in a state of anxiety over being fired for small mistakes.

At Artemis Consultants, we know that losing a top employee is not easy.  But we recommend keeping things positive and offering congratulations.  If you need help finding someone to refill a key position at your company, we make personnel transitions as easy as possible.

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