Recently a client sent me an urgent message asking for my help. A valued employee—a millennial—had just handed in his notice, and the company wanted him to stay. They asked if I could help make that happen.
Of course this task intrigued me, because it gave me a chance to dig deeper into the organization’s culture and discuss with this employee one-on-one his reasons for leaving. I asked him about his passions, how he was being managed, his relationship with his direct supervisor, the work and workload, compensation and benefits, did he feel he was adding value, were there ample opportunities for growth. You name it, we discussed it. It was a fantastic conversation—but not for the reasons I originally intended.
See, I wanted to find out if there were any glaring mistakes being made on the part of the organization. I knew that if I detected the problem, I could help the company fix it and, ideally, retain a valued staff member. But it turns out my client was already doing everything right.
They made it hard to leave. And that’s a good thing.
This employee truly enjoyed the company. He struggled to resign because his team had welcomed him from day one and made him feel valued and important. When they learned he was considering taking a position with another organization, everyone—from his coworkers and supervisors to the company president—engaged him in conversations, asking him to stay. The work itself was meaningful—it was just in the wrong field.
This young man’s career goals were in a highly specific technical arena. And my client simply had no position suited to those interests.
Ultimately, he did decide to leave, although not without some heartache. I still counted this a win for the organization. Why? Because of what it revealed about my client’s culture, and of what they were doing exceptionally well.
Think about it. Here we had an employee working in a field completely unrelated to his true vocational interests, yet the people, the environment, and the knowledge that he was valued and cared for were factors strong enough to make him wish he could stay.
Can your employees say that about you?
As we wrapped up our conversation, this young professional thanked me for the open discussion and emphasized his respect for his employer. He even expressed interest in returning if his new job didn’t work out. I advised my client to follow up in six months and to keep this former employee in their network as his skills and their needs grow.
In today’s talent war, where perception is playing an increasingly vital role in a candidate’s decision to take a job, what employees think of your organization matters. They are your biggest spokespeople. And if even your departing staff can sing praises about your workplace, you’re doing something right for sure.