Consider casual contracting
It’s very difficult if an employee is looking for development or another challenge, if that’s not something you can offer on the same scale in your business. Because at some stage, unfortunately, even our best employees need to move on.
But if they’re leaving due to personal circumstances, there may be a way that you can still use them in some capacity. For example, if they’re leaving to study, can you use them on a casual or a contract basis, even if it’s just to mentor others and knowledge-share. In this way you can keep some consistency for a short period after they leave.
‘You can keep some consistency for a short period after they leave.’
Keep in touch
If you can’t convince them to stay, say they’re looking for more challenge, ask if you can keep in touch. And then schedule touchpoints into your calendar, because it’s possible that the grass isn’t greener for them when they leave and they may be willing to come back.
As I discussed in another post, boomerang employees are becoming more common. Again, this is probably not a long-term solution, the employee will probably leave again, but it buys you some time if you can get them to come back. And sometimes people will come back and stay for years.
Announce the departure
Make sure that you announce that the person is leaving, congratulate them on whatever it is that they’re going off to do, and thank them for their contribution. I’ve come across organisations that somehow forget to tell people that employees are leaving. Or worse, put them under gag orders so they’re not allowed to say anything.
Remember that for the employee, the way they leave is the way they will be remembered. And the same is true of you as an employer – the way people depart your organisation says a lot about the organisation’s culture and what you value.
Communicate with the team
The next thing you need to do is to check in with the rest of the team. If this person is your best employee, losing them will be a huge blow to the rest of your organisation. Because the team will be nervous. If you’re devastated, they probably are too. So you need to have a plan that you can communicate or at least communicate that you’re putting a plan together.
And it’s important here to stay positive and optimistic. You can say, ‘it’s a shame that this person’s leaving, but here’s what we’re looking to do’, or ‘we’re currently working on a plan with the person who’s leaving for what we’re going to do next’. Essentially, you need a ‘don’t worry, it will be okay’, kind of communication.