By Angela Harder

No matter what size your business is, you’re inevitably going to have to deal with turnover of employees who you not only value, but also had no clue were looking for other career opportunities in the first place. This can sometimes throw bosses and managers off guard. So what do you do when you’re informed an employee is leaving – yet you really, really want them to stay?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand why employees look for other opportunities in the first place. Despite some misconceptions that most of it can be attributed to employees looking for better pay, that’s not always the case. In fact, a 2008 survey from Gallup showed better pay and benefits were the reasons given by just 22% of respondents who left their jobs. The rest?

  • 32% left for career advancement/promotion opportunities
  • 20% didn’t feel like the job fit
  • 17% left because of the management/general work environment
  • 8% left due to flexibility/scheduling issues
  • 2% left over concerns of job security

How Can You Convince Them to Stay?

If you consider the employee who’s just turned in their resignation invaluable, your first instinct might be to counteroffer with higher pay. And while that might seem like the most obvious approach, based on the variety of reasons employees have for heading towards the exit door, it might not solve everything. Perhaps the employee is already beyond being convinced to stay – but even in such instances, you’ll want to know exactly why they’re leaving.

The Importance of Listening

Asking the employee the reasoning behind their decision and hearing them out can give you the ability to address their concerns, and perhaps convince them that they are indeed valued and you will help fix a situation they’re unhappy with. This can serve as a step beyond simply making a counteroffer.

Creating a Retention Plan

No matter how good you aspire for your workplace to be, it’s inevitable that some turnover will occur. This can be because an employee might need to relocate because of a family commitment or they’re simply ready for a change of scenery. In any case, you’ll want to implement a number of practices that encourage employees to stay long-term. High turnover can cause issues such as:

  • Employees going to work for competitors
  • Workflow disruption
  • Cost and time having to recruit new employees
  • A bad reputation for your workplace
  • A domino effect that encourages other co-workers to leave as well

To avoid the aforementioned as much as possible, practices that dissuade turnover can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Encouraging communication – Encourage employees to provide feedback on a regular basis, and look to improve your practices accordingly when feedback makes sense.
  • Provide training – Encourage employees to continue to learn and this will leave them with a sense of challenge where they are less likely to get bored in their roles.
  • Provide quarterly/annual reviews – Doing so will allow you to: provide feedback, highlight areas upon which the employee can improve, and potentially offer raises/bonuses (shows them they’re valued). In these instances, the employee can also provide feedback about what you as an employer may need to improve in the workplace to help them succeed.
  • Provide benefits and perks – Outside of actual raises, benefits can go a long way towards improving work-life balance. Other things you might want to consider: flexible work hours, PTO, team-bonding events, in-office fitness classes, etc.

Splitting May Sometimes Be in the Interest of Both Sides

Even if it might seem like a headache at the time, it may truly be in both party’s long-term interest that a separation occurs. While it’s ideal to hope both sides are well-intentioned, some employee demands can, in fact, be unreasonable. And in other instances, it might be literally impossible to counteroffer with higher pay based on your business expenses.

There can be pluses and minuses to a split — but it’s important to realize that if it’s necessary for one to occur, it happens on the best terms possible. In such instances, it might be helpful to conduct what’s called an exit interview which can help you further understand the soon-to-depart employee’s reasons for exiting, and in turn, help you improve your retention procedures even further.

Conducting Exit Interviews

Exit interviews can help reduce turnover rates. While performing such interviews might not be ideal in every situation (particularly if the person was a mediocre-to-bad employee), employees you considered valuable can be very insightful. Questions you might want to ask include:

  • What is the main reason for your departure?
  • What areas do you think we could improve upon?
  • What did you like about working here?
  • Were you challenged enough and if not, when and why did you stop feeling challenged?
  • Do you feel like your work was appreciated enough?

If possible, have an HR manager conduct the exit interview, as there may have been tension between the exiting employee and their direct supervisor. From there, take their feedback into consideration, and apply it to the employee retention plan you’ve created.

Losing valued employees can be hard, but with the right know-how, you can effectively limit turnover and improve your business’s reputation in the process.

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos