Alison Schreiber, Director at The HR Dept, Durham, looks at how to tackle the issue.
Although a wave of leavers can be a common occurrence, we are social beings after all, it can also be a challenging time for any employer and their remaining employees.
From skills shortages, huge handovers, password changes and exit interviews. To recruiting and training new staff. Not to mention the whip round for leaving gifts and emotional goodbyes. It can be a costly occurrence and a whirlwind for all involved.
So, what can employers do to spot the signs and prevent a potential wave of leavers?
Revisit recruitment: Let’s start at the beginning. The first step in building your dream team starts with recruitment. Do you have enough steps in your current recruitment process to ensure that you are attracting the right people to your roles? From accurately naming job roles to making sure you are matching skill sets with specifications, strong recruitment can play a big part in employee retention.
Invest in 121 time: Having regular employee reviews is standard practice. But how often are you having them and what is your format? If your employee reviews are currently a formal annual performance review, you may want to consider introducing some less formal 121s every now and again.
121s give you the chance to check-in with your employees. How are they handling their current responsibilities? Are they working well in their team? Could some training be beneficial? Discussing these issues should give you some indication to their current happiness at work and their intentions to progress in their current role.
Make necessary changes: From your increased one on one time with your employees, it’s probable that you will receive some feedback on the way things are going within your workforce. It’s a good idea to have an open mind when collecting this feedback and see it as a useful tool to boost overall productivity and morale.
If comments are generally positive, great! But try not to get complacent and maybe consider a fun team-building activity to keep spirits high. If comments are negative, you may need to address some core operations. Listening to your employees will help to build trust and improve loyalty but acting on feedback shows a genuine commitment to your team.
Mix it up: Whilst co-workers being great friends can be good for business at times, it can also be risky if one becomes unhappy at work. Not only can morale be affected, but alliances can be made. And when friends leave, others might follow. Aside from finding out why employee A is unhappy in the first place, it could also be a good idea to mix up dynamics at work.
If your employees work shifts, try and vary them. This will allow employees to experience some extra diversity in their working day and let them get to meet everyone in their department.
Feedback before farewell: If you and your employee have been through the above and something still doesn’t feel quite right, it might be time to bid them farewell. But before their last day it would be a good idea to schedule an exit interview. This offers the perfect opportunity to find out why your employee has decided to leave. Take the time to listen and find out why they started looking elsewhere in the first place, it could be great intel to foresee and prevent a potential wave.
Create a contingency plan: And by that we mean: assume that everyone could leave at some point. By having a contingency plan in place for your workforce, you can feel more prepared in the event of people leaving. Is there room to reshuffle tasks for an interim period whilst you’re hiring? Do you have an online knowledge base which stores logins and important information? Are you training your staff so that they can potentially step up and graduate to a new role should one become available?
These are all key points that you can include in your workforce contingency plan. They’ll help you to be prepared in the unfortunate event of a leaver wave.