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What to Do When Your Employees Want to Leave Your Company

What to Do When Your Employees Want to Leave Your Company

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

It is not always a bad thing when employees choose to leave your organization. Why?

  1. They may need to grow, and the only way to do so is by leaving.
  2. You recognize that they need to move on, but you don’t want to do anything about it. The employee needs to take the first step and start the transition.
  3. The employee has nowhere to go in terms of growth in your organization.

Many individuals view their place of employment like an extended family. In the past, it was common for employees to stay on the job seemingly forever, or at least until retirement.

However, times have changed. What organizations now offer their employees has changed.

Employers can no longer guarantee lifetime positions for their workers. Disruptors change the game on a regular basis, and companies find themselves reassessing their objectives and the skill sets they need.

Instead of taking their departure personally as a condemnation of your organization, why not be happy for your employees when they decide to transition?

Addressing the Typical Concerns of Employees Who Move On

Human resources expert Susan Heathfield has provided some advice on addressing the concerns employees may have when they think about moving on.

Heathfield argues that organizations should actively do whatever they can to retain good employees. Most employers acknowledge that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and retain good employees, so you should do everything you can to keep yours.

To retain them, you have to understand what motivates them and what is their “breakpoint.” At what point do they recognize that it’s time to explore what is on the other side?

Heathfield identifies eight reasons why employees leave an organization:

  1. The job is not what the employee expected when he/she joined the organization. Candidates can read the job description, but they may need to be introduced to future coworkers. They should also have an opportunity to see the actual workspace and observe employee interaction within the department.
  2. There is an issue with the employee-supervisor relationship. Employees resign to get away from a bad boss, but HR only finds out about it during the exit interview.
  3. Employees will resign when the compensation package is below market, and they can get an increase in salary by leaving the organization. Short answer – pay people based on what the job is worth in the marketplace.
  4. The employee is not a good match for the job and its requirements. Somewhere in the interview process, something failed. For example, the employee is qualified to do the job, but his or her personality conflicts with the other members of the team. Therefore, the employee may not be useful in the work environment. Culture trumps qualifications.
  5. Employees have an intrinsic need to know how they are doing on the job. The perception today is that millennials need constant feedback on how well they are performing and in what areas they need immediate improvement.
  6. Employees quit when they don’t feel special. Most employees need some kind of recognition and acknowledgment that they are performing well. Employees don’t like to feel like a mere number. They want you to recognize their contributions constantly.
  7. Employees seek growth and potential advancement opportunities. Once an employee believes a current job has been mastered, he or she will seek out new opportunities. If the organization cannot provide them, the employee will leave.
  8. Employees need to feel confident that the senior leaders in their organization know what they are doing. Employees are smarter than some executives give them credit for. They feel more secure when they trust and believe that the executive team has a plan and proceeds accordingly. Employees invest in their company the same way businesses invest in their employees.

Heathfield considers each of these reasons to be within an employer’s control; the employer can change the situation to retain good employees. If you believe you can convince an employee to stay, make sure you do everything in your power to provide what that employee needs.

As you assess what you can do to retain employees who want out, remember it’s okay if they still choose to leave. In most cases, it is not a reflection on you or your organization.

Instead, it is the employees’ self-awareness, realizing that it is time to find out which way their next opportunity bus is heading. They need to be on that bus, sitting in the seat that was meant for them. Release them and allow them to go when it is their time.

Start a management degree at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

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