Talent advisors often read articles and blog posts about the front end of the employee life cycle. We are in a war for talent, after all, and posts about attracting talent, employer brand, hiring best practices and onboarding are everywhere. While it’s true that we can always improve the way we attract, recruit and retain employees, we rarely talk about the “end” of the employee lifecycle — when people leave for another job — unless it’s wrapped up in fearful language.
When we do read about turnover, there are plenty of posts on how to fire legally, how to avoid litigation, and how to stop yourself from doing some boneheaded thing when terminating an employee. All too often, we share “HR horror stories” and malign our staff who choose to leave our organizations. We treat their departures like it’s scandalous news in a tabloid. It isn’t healthy, and it makes talent advisors wary of the end of the employee life cycle.
Turnover is natural. Turnover is an occurrence. Turnover has a financial implication, of course, but there’s also an emotional component that all talent advisors must consider.
Step Back with Me for a Second
Are you still at the first job you started with in your career? You may be, and I applaud that, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of people reading this have held more than one job. If you left a job, voluntarily or not, you were part of turnover. The company you left is probably still around even though you aren’t. Since this transition has happened to almost all of the employees who were in the workforce since the beginning of humankind, stop magnifying turnover and learn to work with it.
Don’t Celebrate the Departed
There are plenty of situations in which we want someone to leave a company. It is tough to admit, but we know it’s sometimes true that if an employee leaves, a dark cloud will be lifted from a department or organization.
When that employee leaves, you have to be careful of people celebrating the dead. That may sound harsh, but I’ve seen it happen more often that I’d care to admit. It isn’t right. When a person leaves, we need to show grace and help our remaining team members forward in a positive manner. Gossipy, open-ended conversations about a current or former employee’s faults and failures will kill your culture. Avoid doing this.
Grief is Real
What do you do when an esteemed employee — someone who is admired as a nice human being and a top performer — leaves your company? When this occurs, people experience a genuine sense of loss. They may grieve. You need to be there as both a leader and a counselor to help people work through this loss. Don’t blow it off or tell people to get over it. That’s not helpful, and it will also kill your culture.
Meet People Emotionally Before You Address Them Rationally
As I mentioned earlier, turnover happens. And you have to remember that, whatever the circumstance, these are human beings who are leaving your organization. People with hearts, minds, souls and families. It isn’t about swapping out a new piece of furniture and sending the old pieces to the curb. These are people whose lives change when they leave the company. They face an emotional shift just as much as those who stay behind.
We don’t like to talk about emotions because they are unpredictable and messy, but that’s why I work in human resources and love being a talent advisor.
So remember that turnover is natural. Shift your focus and treat it as if you knew it was coming. You’ll be glad you did.
Throughout the month of June, Steve and our talent advisors will continue dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.