How to Respond When You Lose a Valuable Employee

How to Respond When You Lose a Valuable Employee

Losing an employee can be a blow to any business, especially if they are a valuable and crucial member to your team. According to a survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4.3 million workers left their jobs in May 2022. This staggering number of job departures affected many businesses, large and small, around the U.S.

This mass work transition has been referred to as “The Great Resignation”. During this time, many companies are losing valuable team members and find themselves looking for a retention solution.

When losing a key member of your team, it might be tempting to hope that things go back to normal as the market changes, but there are steps you can consider taking to minimize the impact of losing a valuable worker. Below are four tips you should consider when a top employee leaves your company.

Conduct an Exit Interview

Just like when you hire new employees, you should consider conducting interviews with employees before they depart the company.

When an employee decides to leave a company, it’s important for that person’s manager to make sure that an exit interview takes place. The exit interview is the organization’s opportunity to learn more about what your employee enjoyed working at the company and what they didn’t like during their experience.

Additionally, through exit interviews, you can get specific feedback on what the company needs to improve or change. It’s also helpful to ask questions like:

  • How did you feel about your responsibilities?
  • What could we have done better?
  • Would you recommend this company to your professional network?
  • What was the main factor that made you accept another position?

According to Gallup, employees who have a positive exit interview process are 2.9 times more likely to recommend their previous organization to others compared to those who have a bad or nonexistent exit interview process. Conducting this interview not only opens conversations, but also can lead to recommendations of potential candidates if the employee had a positive experience working at your company.

Assess the Reasons of Their Departure and Next Steps

Reflecting on the reasons of a valuable employee’s departure can be important in making the transition to a new reality where the team member is no longer at your organization. Consider asking yourself and other members or your management team these questions:

  • Were they underpaid/overworked?
  • Were they unhappy with management?
  • Did another company attract them with better benefits?
  • Are they looking for a new career path?
  • Was there a lack of growth and development in their role?

After asking these questions about why the employee left, you may have to think about hiring a replacement. Consider asking yourself these questions so you can save time in the future when it comes to interviewing and onboarding.

  • What is the reason for your employee’s departure?
  • Is it a good time to hire?
  • Are there any candidates internally that might be a fit for this role?
  • Do you have the budget to hire?
  • What experience is needed for someone to seamlessly transition into this role?

Be Thoughtful About Corporate Communication

Your first concern should be to make sure that you’re honest, transparent and respectful in all communications about your employee’s departure. The tone you use in these communications will reflect the company’s reputation, so it’s important to get it right.

You’ll also want to ensure that any communication is clear and concise, factual (with no embellishment), open-minded and empathetic toward both the exiting employee and those who remain at the company. Having this open communication with other employees on the team can lead to a smoother and amicable transition between both parties. This can also prevent disgruntled feelings from employees that are still employed with your organization.

The last thing you’ll want is for departing employees’ colleagues to feel like they’ve been misled by their claims of leaving on good terms with management, or by vague statements that hint at dissatisfaction without giving specifics. Taking the time to get this communication right can make all the difference for those that remain on the team.

Recruit and Train

The importance of finding and training a replacement as quickly as possible cannot be overstated. In the short term, this will help you minimize the loss of productivity and keep your team on track. In the long term, it will ensure that there are no gaps in operations when you or other team members are gone on personal time.

The best way to prevent a loss in productivity is to hire someone who can step into the employee’s shoes immediately—someone with enough experience and knowledge to step up without needing as much time for training first. However, an individual that immediately hits the ground running may be hard to find. A good place to start is by finding someone who has similar skillsets; then train them so they can take on projects faster and fold into the team more smoothly.

When hiring this replacement, consider asking these questions first:

  • Does this person have relevant experience, or will they require training from scratch?
  • Are there available and reliable training managers to catch them up to speed?
  • Should a mentor be assigned to them?

By hiring and training a replacement quickly, your team can get back to working productively in no time.

It is important to remember that losing an employee doesn’t mean your company has failed. It means you have a chance to grow and improve as an organization by finding new ways of doing things, hiring new talent and focusing on creating a positive and productive culture.

Looking for quality talent to fill the shoes of previous employees? Contact Hunter to learn more about our talent solutions.