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How to retain or replace great employees

Posted in Employers on Jan 16, 2019 by Keeley Edge

‘New year, new me,’ often leads to people evaluating their career and thinking about a new direction. This means that many companies start to receive resignation letters around the end of January from employees who have decided that it’s time for a change.  

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some things that you should consider before rushing into the recruitment process.


Find out why your employee is leaving

Find out the real reason your employee is leaving. In some cases, it will be because of external factors; relocation, change of circumstances, wanting a change of direction. On the other hand, it may be something internal; poor management, lack of support, low pay, or even workplace bullying.

If they are leaving for internal reasons, then you may be able to convince them to stay, or at least use their feedback to prevent further employees from leaving.

Make them an offer to stay

Many companies do very little to try and retain employees once they find out they are looking elsewhere, but good employees are worth keeping hold of. If you understand the reason for them wanting to leave, you are in a better position to persuade them to stay.  

Maybe the new job offers better pay. If you can match this, then it is certainly worth considering. A salary increase of a few thousand pounds might work out cheaper than recruiting and training a new employee from scratch.

Your employee may be leaving because they can’t see an obvious route for progression. Could you train them up to take on a more senior position? Can you offer them the chance to manage a project within your business? Could you create a new role that utilises their skills? If your employee is an intrapreneur, they could be a real asset to your company if you nurture them.

If an employee is leaving due to a lack of development opportunities, find out what skills they want to develop and what options are available. Perhaps you can retain them by offering to support their training. Training and developing your people is always a good investment.

Being prepared to invest in an employee shows them they are valued. You will need to follow through on any promises, but in return for investing in your employee, you’ll probably find they invest more into their work.

Conduct an exit interview

If you can’t change an employee’s mind about resigning, ensure you conduct a good exit interview and identify any issues which may also be affecting other team members.

Ask the employee to be honest about areas for improvement, conflict within the team, or frustrations they have with the role. It might be hard to hear some of the feedback, but there’s a good chance that other employees are experiencing the same frustrations or issues. This insight could help you prevent further staff losses and improve the experience for future employees.

How can you stop other employees jumping ship?

Often, when an employee leaves, it can have a knock-on effect. They will be excited about their new job and will be telling their colleagues all about it. This might lead to thoughts of, ‘well if they’re being offered that, imagine what I could get,’ or, ‘maybe it’s time I moved on too.’

If your employees are not motivated and don’t enjoy their roles, then the grass is always going to be greener elsewhere. Performance reviews or appraisals are a fantastic opportunity to find out if other employees are feeling unsettled.

Talk to your employees about your plans for the company. Get ideas from them of where improvements could be made. Use this as an opportunity to improve engagement and make employees feel valued. A few minor changes could ensure better retention. 

Build a closer team by investing in team-building activities. If employees like their colleagues, they will enjoy coming to work more. Team-building doesn’t have to be expensive; you could arrange a walk, attend a quiz night or just have an afternoon of fun activities in the office.

Make sure that everyone feels included and if there is even the slightest indication that bullying or discrimination is present, address the issues immediately.

If you have a high turnover of employees, then you can’t ignore that you have a problem. Word will get around that you lose staff which will make you a less desirable company to work for. Protect your employer branding by investing in your existing team.

Conduct role audits

Before you rush into finding a like-for-like replacement, consider whether this is what you need. Your company may have changed significantly since you last recruited for that position and the role might now require a different set of skills.

At the very least, if an employee is leaving, ask them to put together a comprehensive list of their daily, weekly and monthly tasks and responsibilities. This will not only help you create an accurate job description, but it will also help you choose the most appropriate person for the role.

You should also consider conducting role audits throughout the entire department or organisation. Job roles evolve and change, especially in smaller businesses, so it is important to understand what each employee is doing on a day to day basis. Doing a role audit every year is a good way to keep up to date with what each employee is responsible for.

Create the right role

Understanding the breakdown of the roles within your company will help you make better recruitment decisions. Combined with feedback from performance reviews, you can allocate workload more efficiently or in a way that is more suited to your employees’ skill sets.

Maybe elements of the vacated role can be incorporated into other roles. Perhaps some of your part-time staff would now like to take a full-time position. Maybe it’s time to create a team leader position or create separate departments. Perhaps the vacated role would be better split into two part-time roles which require different skills.

Ensure a robust recruitment process

Once you have conducted a role audit and are sure about what you need, it’s important that you attract the right people. Start by creating a strong job advert that appeals to the type of candidates you are looking for. Decide what is desirable and what is essential regarding qualifications, experience and values.

Plan your recruitment process. How long will you run an advert? How many candidates will you interview? How many interview stages will there be? Who will conduct the interviews? What questions will be asked and what are the scoring criteria? Have you got a good induction and training process in place for your new employee?

Any recruitment you do should be in line with your company vision and values, so spend some time planning rather than rushing into a decision. If you want to attract quality candidates, then you need to show you are a quality company.

How Key Appointments can help

The new year is a great time to look at your recruitment process and plan the growth of your business, but it can be difficult knowing where to start. If you have employees leaving, lack of engagement or performance issues within your team, you might feel like you are just fighting fires. Alternatively, you might have a fantastic team that you want to retain and grow.

At Key Appointments, we are specialists in recruitment and retention. Along with our trusted network of specialists, we can assist with every aspect of your human resources and recruitment, from conducting role audits, recruiting exceptional talent, setting up effective onboarding processes, creating structured performance reviews and providing recommendations for training and development programmes.

Your people are your most important asset and we help you attract and retain the most suitable people for your business. Contact one of our friendly consultants to discuss any aspect of recruitment or people management and ensure your business attracts the talent it deserves.  

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