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Staff Turnover: what to do when your star employee leaves

Staff turnover

It’s the thing that most managers fear - their rock star employee handing in their notice.

They’ve made a huge impact on your business, they’re liked by everyone and they’re a joy to work with. They seem happy and the last thing you expect is for them to ever leave. So what do you do when your star employee moves on?

Accept It

Good employees will not be acting on impulse if they decide to leave the company that they are making a positive impression on. The decision will be considered and, if they have concluded that the best thing for them is to move on, it’s very difficult to change this opinion.

There’s always the option of the counteroffer, which is offering the departing employee an incentive to stay, however, these are usually only effective for the short term. Counteroffers are also risky; if done recklessly, they can foster a culture of employees handing in their notice just to get a pay rise.

Never argue with the employee or bad-mouth their new employer - the only thing you’ll get by doing this is a disgruntled employee who will tell everyone about their negative experience.

Whilst it’s disappointing, good employers should support the decision of the employee and wish them well on the next stage of their journey; you never know - they may come back one day.

Impact on the Team

It’s natural to enter crisis management mode when your star employee leaves, especially as it may inspire others to start looking for new opportunities.

Don’t hide it from them - if word gets out before it is communicated by management then it could negatively impact morale.

Show respect to the person leaving and communicate the news positively; highlight the impact they had on the business and communicate your support.  This allows the team to prepare themselves for the next steps of transition.

Retaining Knowledge

The ideal situation is that your employee will be able to work their notice in order to impart knowledge and train others on what to do. It would be perfect if the departing employee can train the replacement before they leave, however, that is rarely possible. Ensure that you know the ins and outs of the employee's daily tasks as well as responsibilities and any specific knowledge they were relied upon for so that you can take over on these until a replacement can be found.

If they were truly outperforming many in the team, use this as an opportunity to train and develop your existing workforce so that they can all perform well. Perhaps, with some encouragement, a new star will emerge.

Reflect and Recruit

What could have been done to retain that employee? Was it the salary, workload, development opportunities, or appraisal? The list of why people leave jobs is endless, but when an important employee leaves it's important to reflect on what could have been done differently in order to minimise the chances of it happening again.

The most important thing is to not take it personally. Disruptions in your company can happen at any time, and people leave companies for a variety of reasons, therefore the best way to react to an important employee leaving is to prepare for it. The vacancy is now open, and this in itself brings with it an opportunity. The star of the future is out there and looking for a role, so it’s time to start engaging with prospective candidates. Focus on the future.

If you'd like to chat about your hiring or retention strategies please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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