Finding out that a key employee you like and respect is leaving can be devastating, especially if you thought they were happy working with you and had no idea they were considering leaving.
However, in order to ensure that there’s a chance they’ll return in the future or at least, be good brand ambassadors for you and your organisation, you’ll need to be cautious about how you react to such news.
Here are some tips to help you react appropriately and manage the situation during the Great Resignation, while increasing the chances of the employee being an asset to your business once again, either by referring business to you or by returning as an employee.
Manage your Reactions
The last thing you want to do is react impulsively and express disappointment or anger openly. This would leave the employee with a negative impression of you and your organisation. It’s okay to show surprise. Anything beyond that needs to be carefully calibrated.
Examine your Emotions
While you may feel hurt or even a sense of betrayal, take a step back and focus on productive emotions.
As you take stock of your emotions, consider what would help you move forward.
For instance, you’re probably curious about the factors that led to their decision. Knowing these would enable you to manage your employees better in the future and would help your organisation put in place policies to better retain employees.
Calming down enough to recognise this would help you react constructively.
Don’t Take it Personally
Hurt and betrayal are usually a result of taking things personally. Instead, depersonalise the news. Think about it this way – it could very well be that your key employee wouldn’t be leaving had you been a better manager. However, don’t see this as a judgement on your personal worth. Instead, as we said earlier, work on getting information that could help you improve as a manager or that could help your organisation improve as an employer.
Ask questions such as, “What else could we have done to keep you?” or “What appeals to you about this new job?” These questions could elicit useful feedback.
Also, bear in mind that the employee might be leaving for reasons beyond your control – to explore other interests, get varied experience, etc.
Refrain from Making Counter-offers
Experts say that counter-offers often only work for the short-term. If the employee has made up their mind to leave, the other employer probably offered them something that you have not been able to deliver so far. Therefore, you should only make a counter-offer if it’s something you can comfortably deliver.
If the employee is merely posturing to get you to make a counter-offer with higher compensation, they are probably going to do it again in the near future. That’s certainly not a game you want to play over and over again.
Show your Support and Be Helpful
Maintaining a positive relationship with a departing employee can be beneficial to you and your organisation. If they leave with a positive impression, they would be more willing to give you or your organisation references in the future or even return to the organisation.
Ask them how you can help them as they start their new role. While expressing sadness that they are leaving, show enthusiasm for their next endeavour and tell them you’ll miss them. Offer to help them in any way you can to maximise their success. This will make for a healthier departure for all.