It’s an unfortunate reality in today’s business world: skilled, valuable employees will leave your company. The average length of stay at a job is 4.4 years, according to Forbes. Replacing these employees has real costs — SHRM says it can be up to 200% of the leaving employee’s salary. And as the job market strengthens, employees are more likely to find favorable situations elsewhere.
Of course, it’s strong people that make an organization great. So what do you do when good employees quit? Replacing them won’t be easy, but having systems in place to ensure a smooth transition that doesn’t interrupt productivity is essential for any organization.
1. Conduct an exit interview
The first step is to do a thorough investigation into why this talented employee has decided to leave your company. Have an exit interview process in place that allows you to delve into the reasons behind this top performer quitting their job.
A study by The Center for Association Leadership found that 89% of managers surveyed said they thought most employees leave for better pay. However, another study found that 88% of employees who quit did so for something other than money. Through an exit interview you’ll learn more about how to keep employees satisfied and, hopefully, prevent your best people from leaving in the future.
2. Ensure solid hiring processes
Crafting an excellent job description, sifting through suitable candidates, and narrowing the field will help you find the best person. Your team will expect that you’ll be thoroughly vetting new candidates to find someone capable of replacing the longtime employee who just left, whether that person comes from within the company or outside of it.
3. Minimize impact on company culture
The immediate question on everyone’s mind will be, “Why did they leave?” You could handle this in several different ways — one-on-one conversations with your team, an announcement, or a meeting with key stakeholders. However you choose to approach this, make sure that everyone knows you’re aware of the situation and ready to handle it.
4. Retain institutional knowledge
Losing a talented employee means that other areas will be impacted. You may have to repair relationships with clients. You’ll lose someone who knows the job inside and out and has knowledge derived from experience.
One way to minimize this loss is by having the leaving employee write a manual. This will immediately create high expectations for the new employee about how the job should be performed.
5. Give it time
Let your team know that it’s unreasonable to think that a new employee will immediately fill the gap left by a longtime employee. It will take months — maybe even years — to replace a talented, experienced person.
Of course, we’d prefer to never lose those employees in the first place. By using survey tools to gauge employee satisfaction, you’ll be aware of problems as they happen and be ready to address them. And if one of your best employees comes to you with a concern or a reasonable request, be sure to hear them out and respond as quickly as possible.