When an organization loses a key employee, the bleeding typically does not stop there. What about the teammates that the departing employee leaves behind? How are they impacted? Simply put, when an employee leaves an organization, you could lose a lot more than the departing employee.
Employee retention is one of the biggest issues currently facing HR. However, when an employee leaves (and some will inevitably leave), there is an impact that is often lost on HR, management and the owners and executives within the organization. The impact is threefold:
First, departing can be contagious. Discontent breeds discontent. If the departing employee has regular contact with other people on his or her team before departing there will most likely be numerous opportunities to influence co-workers with stories of the job search, interviewing process, the excitement of going to new surroundings. Those discussions can result in the co-workers dreaming about a potential move and, potentially, acting on those thoughts. After all, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report says “more than half of employees (51 percent) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings.”
Another key result of a departing employee is the productivity drag impacting those “left behind.” When a departing employee checks out (usually several months before actually leaving), that employee causes his/her co-workers to pick up the proverbial slack and make up for the productivity loss resulting from their departure. Guess what builds. Resentment? Yep. Frustration? Indeed. However, the biggest potential consequence is when employees who are being taxed with more workplace responsibility decide they might be better off working somewhere else too. Gallup also confirms “…63% [of the American workforce] believes it is ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ that they would find a job as good as the one they [currently] have.”
Finally, the hit on global culture within an organization should not be underestimated when a key person moves to another company. The popularity of outlets like Glassdoor largely exists for the reason many executives fear – to expose poor culture and negative workplace environment. Departing employees only solidify the concerns of executives and owners as to how their organization is perceived by the masses. If a company isn’t careful, the decision by an employee to leave can have huge reverberations throughout an organization – for months and years to come.
My message to corporate America: Do something about it. When a key member of your team plans on leaving, it is imperative for managers to meet and discuss the above issues with remaining members of the team. Feedback is paramount to appreciating the cumulative effect the departing employee may have on the remaining employees and the organization as a whole. Minimize the global impact of the departure and limit the damage the departing employee can have while he/she is transitioning out of your organization. If not, you may find yourself losing more than just one employee.
Noah L. Pusey is the president & CEO of Ripple Analytics Inc., an anonymous team member assessment technology firm. For more than twenty years, Noah has participated in building teams and developing talent at various companies.