Losing a key member in the team | What’s next?

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As an employer, you might think that you have created a supportive and encouraging work environment, but no matter what you do, there will be a day that you find out that one of your star employees is considering leaving your company – or has already accepted another offer. When you find out that a key member of your team wants to leave, you can either try to convince them to stay, or wish them well. What you do in this situation will affect your company for years to come, so consider your options carefully.

One of your options is to convince the employee to stay…

Upon receiving the news of your employee leaving, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you want to, or can afford to, let him/her leave. If you are lucky enough to have found out about him/her leaving before accepting another offer, you might still have a chance to retain your star employee – if this is the case, you should do all that you can do encourage him/her to stay, within reason of course.

Firstly, talk to the employee and confirm that the rumours you have heard are in fact true. If so, here are some things you can do to encourage him/her to stay:

  • Take the person out for a coffee – somewhere away from the office. Try to find out what they are thinking and why they are considering leaving. Question them about their hopes and concerns for the future, without interrogating them. Establishing an atmosphere of mutual problem-solving might help you to retrieve some of the answers you are looking for. If you can find out why the employee wants to leave, you might be able to offer them certain things to keep them at your company. This may include a greater salary, flexible hours, more off days, remote working opportunities, etc.
  • With young employees, money is often the biggest problem. Many people entering the job market for the first time are happy to work for any salary, but as soon as they realise their worth, they might feel that you are not paying them enough. If money is the only reason why your star employee is considering leaving, you could solve it by making them a better offer.
  • If money is not the only problem, you might need to be more creative to find a solution. Find out whether you can help them achieve any of their other career goals by assisting them financially to expand their skills set, for example. Offer additional training and mentorship programmes. If you let your employees feel supported, they would be less likely to be considering other jobs.

Your other option is to let them go gracefully…  

Sometimes, the problems are not as easy to solve. Your employee might simply be looking for a new challenge or adventure – they might be interested in getting a feel for what it is like working at a different company, under different leadership. In these instances, you should choose to let the employee go gracefully. Start by congratulating them on their new position.

Even if you are the person’s supervisor or boss, you are their colleague and you want them to achieve success. By letting them go gracefully, you will ensure that they remain positive about your company, and this is important as they might come back to you one day. Smooth the path for their return by letting them know that you fully support their decision – and remind them that your company’s door is always open.

Whether they come back or not, you want to part on good terms. These days, many companies work in conjunction with one another, and your ex-employee might refer you as a company, so by supporting their decision you might be opening doors for your company’s future. Therefore, treat a departing employee as an ambassador of your company!