How Everyone Can Win When You’re Losing an Employee

Dear Fellow Employers, Are you ready for a wake-up call? A recent survey of 2,000 employees found that almost half (43%) said they are looking for a new job! The number one reason? Poor and undesirable corporate culture.

Whatever the reason may be, inevitably, some employees will leave you. What’s important for employers to comprehend is that the manner in which they leave you might say more about you than it does about them. I don’t buy into millennial fickleness – as an employer you have to own your retention. The way you treat your employees while they’re with you will likely be a big factor in not only if, but also how they leave.

As an entrepreneur, I must admit, I struggle when people leave my team. Let me be clear, it’s not the exit itself that I struggle with, it’s the execution of the exit!

I’ve always been a big believer that employees, like friends, come into your life for a reason; some for a season and some for a lifetime. With that said, I’m also a firm believer that how you treat people and the culture you foster has a direct correlation to the length and quality of their stay.

The median number of years that wage and salary workers have worked for their current employer is currently 4.6 years. I take employee tenure very seriously and as such, we track it as one of our KPIs at Roma. Currently, our median tenure is eight years, 40% higher than the average. I attribute this to many factors, with the biggest being the strength and depth of our organizational culture.

We believe it wiser to obsess about the screening process than to try to squeeze a person with the “right” skills into the wrong role. We focus on ensuring we obtain the right person and put them in the right position, going in the right direction, for the right reasons. Most of all, our recruitment process is 60% skewed towards finding the right culture fit and 40% towards obtaining the right skill sets. We believe we can teach any skill but are certain we cannot teach you how to live a certain value if you don’t possess it.

It is inevitable, however, that from time to time, employees decide to move on. Whether it’s for a new opportunity, a change in career direction, a conflict with their immediate manager, or any combination of reasons, employees will leave.

Employees leaving my team is always met with mixed emotions. I love the people I work with and as such, it’s often bittersweet. Especially if they are truly leaving to advance their careers, to change direction, or moving closer to home to better serve their family.

The thing I’d like to shine a light on is the final part of the exit, the notice period. I’m writing this today to go on record saying it can be done in a way that serves everyone!

The typical method of requesting a sit-down with the HR manager, white envelope at the ready, and giving two weeks’ notice is something we should strive to leave behind! Two weeks is an extremely short period of time, no matter what you do within your team.

I’m advocating a conversation. This starts with you, the employer, because this can only happen if your culture advocates and values trust! Like most employers, I’ve been accustomed to the two-weeks’ notice, but I much prefer an employee come to a manager well in advance and indicate that they are thinking of changing roles or careers.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
– Luke 6:31

From time to time we have had some awesome team members give 2 months’ or better yet, five months’ notice. Jamie, a current Roma team member, for example, has decided to go back to college to purse a degree in online gaming development. She notified us five months in advance of her departure and said “Tony, you’ve always been good to me and I would never leave you guys with only two weeks’ notice!” While I’m sad to be losing Jamie, I’m excited for her future and an employee departing in this way has always left me feeling fantastic. I feel a huge sense of gratitude, and an elevated respect for the employee. I often go above and beyond to accommodate that employee and offer additional support mechanisms in thanks for the extra notice. Employment letters, referrals, transitional support, anything that will help them in exchange for all they’ve done.

Why isn’t this the case more often at more businesses? Why do employees feel they can’t speak to management about problems in their role and find the win-win way to resolve them and/or move on? It’s a matter of trust. When trust is missing, employees won’t feel comfortable approaching management to discuss problems or their intent to depart for fear of being reprimanded, treated poorly until their departure, or even worse, fired on the spot! When you cultivate a culture of trust and strong relationships, your employees are more likely to come forward sooner. Think about how much happier everyone can be with five months to prepare for an employee’s departure. You end up with a better trained replacement and your employee gets to move on feeling positive about the way they left. That trust will grow throughout your organization as other employees see that it’s not only safe but also beneficial to everyone to maintain an open and honest dialogue with management; to find that win-win situation even if it’s time for them to move on. This leads to better employee retention AND better employee departures! It all comes back to that golden rule, treat others as you would like them to treat you and the world just works better!

Tony Gareri

CEO & Culture Enthusiast

Drawing from firsthand experiences, Tony addresses how a culture evolution can lead to improved business results and happier work environments.

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