An employee is looking for another job. What can I do about it?

Wednesday June 5, 2019

Times have changed since most employees would stick to one job throughout their career, looking forward to their retirement gift. The job market has developed and moved on.

Age can remain a factor with some employees content sticking with one employer. But younger generations, such as millennials and below, are already accustomed to scouring opportunities for greener grass.

When you discover that an employee is looking for another job, whether they openly told you themselves or you found out some other way, it can instigate reflection: “What is it they’re unhappy with? What can I do with this information? Can I begin looking for a replacement?”.

Perhaps you already suspected that they were unhappy. You may even be relieved if your employment relationship has been a trying one. But when it’s a top performer who is well liked by management and co-workers, you’ll likely be pondering what it is that’s made them look elsewhere.

It’s important to remember that between three to five years is quite a normal length of time for someone to spend with one employer, so it could just be a natural time for an employee to move on. But if you are experiencing less than this on a regular basis, you may want to review your employee retention strategy.

What can you do when you learn of an employee looking for another job?

As you’d expect, there is good and bad practice that you could follow. So let’s look at some tips to take on board and pitfalls to avoid.

Have a contingency plan.

It’s not a bad idea to assume that most of your employees at any given time could be looking for another job. This can help you to consistently develop their working environment and form a contingency plan. Think about who in the business might be ready to step up (or sideways) into new roles if they become vacant, and ensure you have a succession plan for business-critical roles. Review job specs regularly as your business grows and build a knowledge base of useful information that could be made readily available to a new hire.

Don’t jump the gun.

Before you go and ask them when their leaving date is, remember that they haven’t officially handed their notice in yet. Presuming a resignation can be risky. It would be best to schedule a 1:1 with the employee to discuss their workload or suss out happiness levels to get a better idea of the situation.

If they told you they were looking elsewhere, be open with them and ask them if they still feel this way. It may have been heated and they could have changed their mind. If you found out some other way, don’t ask them outright. Try some open-ended questions to better understand their position.

Move on and gain from it.

Accept that sometimes they just need a new challenge. Sometimes people need to move on for career progression and you might not have an available opportunity for them. In addition, keeping an employee who doesn’t really want to be there can end up being detrimental to your business and disturb the culture.

When they do leave be sure to conduct an exit interview. This can be hugely beneficial intel for you. It can help you to understand who else in the company might be feeling a similar way and if there is anything you want to do about it.

Ask the experts.

Making sudden moves can be risky in a situation such as this. You’ll want to steer clear of anything that could instigate a claim for unfair dismissal. If you want to find out what you can do rather than what you can’t, speak to your local HR Dept today.


Preventing People Problems

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