What to Do When a Key Employee Quits
Losing a key employee can be a huge hit to a business. However, it happens more frequently than you may realize. In 2021 alone, around 4.5 million people quit their jobs for various reasons, hence the year of the “Great Resignation.”
More so, people, especially career-driven professionals, will eventually seek growth and may choose to take a different path. As an employer, it is your responsibility to teach, train and appreciate them while they work with you. When they leave, you must respect and support their decision.
Try to view this as an opportunity to grow and adapt rather than wallow and struggle. Build your company’s resiliency and improve employee retention by learning through the exits. Following the below steps will lead you down a resilient path of recovery and growth.
Find Out Why They Quit
Start by understanding why they left. It is important to not just ask why but to rather understand your employees’ reason for leaving. Some reasons may not pertain to your business and may be strictly personal. For this matter, respect the employees’ decision. If possible, offer the support that you can.
However, if the reason is due to your business and its functioning, understand it and consider making a change so you don’t continue to lose key employees. Some of the reasons an employee quits are the culture, management, their relationship with colleagues, or the workload. Acknowledge which among these are their concerns. Be open to your employee’s recommendations to know where you can possibly improve the organization. Regardless of the reason, always have an exit interview with employees to learn their thoughts on the company and candid opinions.
Understand Their Workload
One of the most important parts of processing a key employee’s exit is to ensure that the task and duties they will leave will be covered and continued. This will keep the company going even after their resignation. To do this, identify all the tasks that this person does and the current status of their workload. This may require speaking to multiple people to understand this person’s impact on your company.
Knowing the responsibilities and status of their workload will allow you to look for people within your company who can carry out the pending tasks temporarily. Additionally, understanding their task will help you to identify the skills you will need to look for when seeking new personnel for the vacated role.
Get All Necessary Materials
Once they inform you about their resignation, make sure they surrender all company files and assets they may have acquired. Request for access to all files, and document whereabouts of all company-owned materials they used.
Also, be sure this person does not take company materials with them that could compromise trade secrets or private company information. Have your IT person help with changing passwords and forwarding communications to other team members. Having documents like an agreement that they will not discuss confidential company information with anyone as well as an exit clearance form can be put in place for formality.
Find a Temporary Solution
When a key employee quits, it is important to inform the company, especially the team or department that they belong to. This will help the people they work with prepare for adjustments that will be needed. It will also allow you and your team to plan ahead and strategize how to keep the company running smoothly. As mentioned, you can ask for people to help cover the workload in the meantime.
You may also consider hiring freelancers or contract workers to cover the workload until a more permanent solution is found. If you lost a leader or manager but you are after a cost-effective temporary fix, hire an additional headcount and let tenured employees take the lead for a while. For example, if a head system engineer quits, you can hire remote developers to keep the systems running with no problems. Whatever the temporary solution is, make sure there is a strategy in place, and you’re not fumbling to complete things last minute.
Find a Permanent Solution
Start the hiring search to replace your key employee as soon as possible. If they provided a 30-day or two-week notice, take this time to seek the best replacement. This way, the role and the responsibilities they will leave will not hang for too long.
Don’t out rule internal team members, as this could be the growth opportunity an employee has been waiting for. Let this be a chance for somebody else’s growth within the organization. Promoting people can boost employee morale, plus it can be easier to train them for the position as they do not need much of the introduction and ramping.
Moreover, if you aim to scale and introduce change, you can hire someone with a more advanced set of skills. Explore how you could do things differently. Maybe hire someone with different qualifications to bring a fresh perspective. Use this opportunity to make restructuring decisions in this person’s role and the other roles it touches.
Onwards and Upwards
Staff turnover is part of the business. Whether they are new or tenured, employees may quit and leave anytime, but that does not mean that you have to dwell on it. It simply opens a door for you to improve your company in various ways. Use it to strengthen your organization and improve resiliency, so your company can withstand even major challenges that may come in the future.