Employer to employee relationship is built on trust. So if, for one reason or the other, there has to be some form of separation between both parties, it has to be done the right way. There have been instances where friction has been created because systems have not been upheld. This is not to say who is right or wrong, but it is time organisations understand that employees, no matter how loyal they are, do have a mind of their own and this might not be in favour of the employer.
It is in this regard that every organisation should shield itself from the inevitability of a separating employee. That is not to say that organisations should treat their employees with some aloofness – this may have a backfiring consequence too. Do not treat employment contracts like marriage, where the ultimate aim is “till death do us part.” Rather, treat it as courtship, where both parties can go their separate ways peaceably, if one is not satisfied or has other interests elsewhere. In order to achieve this, develop an exit strategy. Here is how…
Know the objective of every employee
People want to work in organisations for several reasons. Have that honest conversation with a potential employee on why he or she wants to be in your organisation. It will help you make them understand what you can offer and what you cannot offer. If they are not interested, do not try to convince them. It is better to lose them now, than to have them leave abruptly when they are offered something above what you can give elsewhere.
Know the timetable of your employees
One way of avoiding surprise resignations is to understand the demography of your workforce. Take millennials for instance, they make up majority of today’s workforce, but they also happen to be flighty. Due to their constant quest for change, challenge and adventure, most of them do not stay in organisations for long. While getting to know the objective of a millennial for example, you should also know the time frame they wish to achieve all that while working with you.
Do constant follow-ups
Do not turn the whole process of getting to know the objectives and time frame of an employee into a paper work ritual, which is done at the beginning of the employment and left to rot in your cabinets. Give yourself a time frame and then do follow-ups. Again, that honest conversation should be had so you can ascertain if their expectations are being met. You can always use the feedback you receive to improve on already existing systems.
Have that final conversation
The fact that you know people are going to leave does not mean you should drag them out or make them uncomfortable as their end of service approaches. These mechanisms are to help you regulate retention rate. It may surprise you to know that some people may change their minds as time draws near. Have the final conversation with employees, three months to their exits. Let them give their honest feedback about their experience with your organisation and vice versa. This can help you to nicely get rid of employees who are not up to par with their performance. Also, the talk can open up negotiations with high flyers that the organisation would still want to retain after the given time.
Groom people to take over
While you are making plans for the exit, you should make plans for their replacement. You know the time frame for certain vacancies so you make provisions to fill them before the employees leave. This way, you save yourself the head ache of training new recruits as the old ones would have done that before leaving.
Retention rate has become the elephant in the room for most organizations. You have to understand that ignoring it is not going to make it go away. Employees may be as precious as glass pieces, but they sure can break at any time. What mechanisms have you put in place to ensure that you are covered in case of the inevitable? It is about time you have that honest conversation; don’t you think?
by Afua Safoa