Posted by Robert Half on 18 July 2014
It's one of your biggest fears as an employer - a highly valued worker, someone you have come to rely on - your best talent is leaving. Not only will you lose their skills, knowledge and experience, but also their productivity and the positive relationships they have built up with clients.
You'll now have to spend time and money advertising the role they are leaving,and recruiting a replacement member of staff. Then you'll have to use further resources onboarding the new recruit, in a bid to get them up to speed and ensuring you avoid making a hiring mistake in the process.
But can you prevent your best talent leaving, stop the nightmare becoming a reality? Possibly yes, if you can spot the warning signs that your best talent is leaving.Once you have identified a disgruntled worker - somebody you would like to retain if possible - the ball is back in your court.
As an employer, you can take proactive steps to boost morale of your employee, change their mindset and ensure they see the value in staying with your organisation for the long term.
What are the warning signs?
There are a number of reasons why your best talent is leaving and heading to the exit door to start a new job. According to Robert Half research, the promise of a higher salary would encourage 40 per cent to switch employer - hinting at the potential value of the pay rise as a retention tool. But boredom (15 per cent) and a lack of promotional opportunities (15 per cent) also pose major attrition risks, as does a sense of dissatisfaction with company leadership (nine per cent).
A tell-tale sign that your best talent is leaving is a noticeable shift in attitude. Should a once-enthusiastic member of staff suddenly become withdrawn or indifferent while performing his or her role, it could hint at dissatisfaction and low morale.
You should be looking out for unusual dips in employee productivity. It may well be that an employee who used to stay late in the office, or work longer hours, no longer does. They may be spending the extra time looking for a new job. If workers start missing deadlines, meetings and appointments, it could also be a sign they have become disconnected from their job.
Employees who start taking more time off or longer lunch breaks may be heading for the exit door - it could be that they have job interviews to attend. The same applies to individuals who turn up to work in smarter-than-usual attire. Are they meeting a prospective employer that day, or planning to visit a recruitment agency?
Retaining your best people
So do you wait for the inevitable to happen - for your valued employees to find another organisation to work for - or do you try to keep hold of your brightest and best employees? By making the first move, and engaging with an employee prior to them being offered a job elsewhere, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of your best talent leaving. Having an open and frank discussion with the worker about their future can clear the air and begin the process of restoring their morale.
For the most talented workers, it may be worth making a significant gesture - such as offering a generous pay rise, a promotion, or other attractive employment benefits - to dissuade them from leaving. You need to think about how much it will cost to replace them with someone of a similar calibre - often it will be more than the existing member of staff is looking for in a pay rise.
With research conducted by Robert Half indicating that a third (33 per cent) of UK employees are considering a new job - rising to 46 per cent in the 18-34 age category - many organisations are in danger of seeing their best people leave. Should they lose a number of workers in a short timeframe, this could productivity hard, put additional pressure on the remaining workforce, and create a degree of commercial risk.
Pre-empting employee resignations with improved pay, benefits and other incentives, shows workers that they are genuinely valued. If individuals feel they are progressing with your organisation, and developing their career, they may be inclined to stay longer. In this sense, there is mutual benefit in offering advancement opportunities. Workers get to bolster their CV and potentially increase their earnings, helping to set them up for a better future. And employers are able to avoid the costs - both direct and indirect - associated with losing valuable people and having to replace them.
Robert Half's Job Satisfaction Index infographic offers additional insights on employee happiness in the UK,the risks of staff attrition, and reasons why your best talent is leaving.