By Liza | No Comments
The most common questions I am asked as a Consultant advising on HR and employment issues are: why did “Employee A leave? Should I have seen it coming?”
I can understand why employers worry so much. For SMEs in particular, the departure of an employee can be confronting. If they’ve been part of your journey, it can feel a bit like a betrayal from a long standing family member. Apart from contributing to your success, Employee A has most likely helped create the working culture that’s made your company unique. They will be a big financial and emotional loss.
So what are the signs of an impending departure?
I’ve compiled this list based on my many years of experience interviewing candidates who are tracking towards leaving, mentally if not physically.
Get your pens out and take note.
1) Your employee has actually spoken to you about their dissatisfaction with you, an aspect of the role or the organisation. Yes, I know I am being obvious. However when I hear a potential candidate say that, I always ask the question “And then what happened?” Most often the answers I hear back are:
“promises were made, but nothing was delivered”
“no promises, no explanation and no negotiation”
2) Your employee stops contributing ideas. This one is situational. If someone is full of ideas as part of their normal pattern of engagement, then they stop contributing, then it is a sign that something is wrong. People detaching from an organisation start to think of the value they can give to themselves, not the company. Hence the shut down.
3) Your employee pulls back on the overtime and additional hours working from home. Again this is contextual. Some people are natural nine to fivers – bless them! However if this behaviour is out of your employee’s normal pattern of work, it can be another sign of a detaching employee.
4) There are signs of disengagement, for example: a higher ratio of absenteeism or tardiness, an increase in taking private phone calls, wanting to use up their annual leave so readily. Sometimes this means that the employee is organising or attending interviews or wanting to use their accruals before they start their new job, so they do not need to take a day odd in the first three months of their new role.
5) Your employee comes in wearing a suit and make-up – (females for the latter of course). Most people still dress more formally for job interviews than they do during the normal course of their work. So keep an eye out if you see this happen.
6) Your employee brushes up their LinkedIn profile. My experience tells me that candidates start to get active on LinkedIn three months before they start to formally make their move. So you’ll see more detail being filled out, more connecting happening and more activity in status updates.
7) There are conversations that stop once you walk by someone’s desk or into the kitchen. I’m not meaning to make you paranoid, but if people do not have anything to hide they usually don’t.
So what can you do if you see these signs? Can you actually rehabilitate a rapidly deteriorating relationship?
It is possible, but it does require some hard work and operating in good faith from both parties. Making a counter offer after your employee has resigned is not a great strategy, and rarely works, partly because both parties resent it. The employee is annoyed that it had to go that far. The employer can feel blackmailed into making an offer they cannot afford.
A far better strategy is to have a meeting with an outside and objective third party that both parties trust. That may open up a can of worms, but it’s far better to have those issues out in the open, than a revolving door of exiting employees potentially costing your business millions.
We’ve worked hard with our clients in this area, on short term mediation and longer term engagement and performance management strategies. If you would like our help, please give me, Liza Garrido a call on: 8221 0553.