Feature article

7 questions to ask when your valued employee quits

Employee just resigned? Here are the 7 questions you should ask. (And tips to persuade them to stay, too.)

You’ve got all your plans in place for the business, and the team to help you do it - and then one of your most valuable staff members comes in and quits…

How you respond could be a make or break. Not only is this an opportunity to find out some valuable insights about your company and team; but in some instances, your employee hasn't 100% decided that they want to leave yet.

Kate Ross, leading independent recruitment adviser, says that in her experience 30% of those who resign stay, so this point in the process is an integral one.

Kate is a pro when it comes to fielding resignations and she has a number of helpful approaches you can take which will maximise what you can learn from the experience - and maybe keep that staff member.

She says the first thing to know is that, no matter how hard you try as a good boss, everyone will receive resignations - and step one is to stay calm.

“You need to speak from a genuine place and your approach should be: ‘If I can help, I will - if I can’t, then let’s part well’.”

Ask the following series of questions to get the full picture, advises the recruitment expert.

1. How are you feeling?

You want to find out if there is more behind their resignation than just another exciting job opportunity that’s arisen.

2. Why are you feeling this way?

There are all kinds of reasons why people decide their workplace isn’t where they want to be any more. It could also be something going on in their personal life, so it’s good to check on this.

3. How long have you felt like this?

If they do have a problem at work, perhaps a problem with a team member, or a new team member, it may be that it hasn’t been for long so the situation is salvageable.

4. What is the issue?

The purpose of this question is to try and get to the heart of why they started looking for a new job.

5. Why have you made this decision?

Here, you’re asking why the new job has won over the current job. This gives you key information on the new job and seeing how it compares.

6. Is there a reason you haven’t come to me sooner to talk things over?

This question can be a bit confronting for a leader, but can give some good insights into how you can improve communications with your team.

7. I don’t want you to leave. What can I do for you to stay or consider staying?

With this question, you’re trying to draw out their main pain points with their current job and to come up with some solutions and to improve their current working situation.

After you feel they’ve said all they want to say, go back to the beginning and go over every topic they’ve brought up. Take notes as you go, advises Kate.

“Try to see it from their side first. This is not the time to cut them off, or disagree with their grievance at work because that will just make things worse and it shows you’re not listening,” she says.

If they do stay on, you want your staff member to feel heard and that action is being taken. Make it clear that you’re doing something about the issues - act on these very quickly and have a catch up with the employee each month for three months to ensure things have been settled to their satisfaction.

If you’ve persuaded someone to stay but you don’t have good follow up, they will get ruffled again and eventually they’ll leave, warns the veteran recruiter.

Will money solve the problem? “I’m not a big fan of throwing money at people who stay. This is a very short term fix and their dissatisfaction and decision to look elsewhere is often deeper than that,” says Kate.

The message you’re trying to convey is, ‘if you’re still unhappy then at least we’ve tried’. It’s an emotional experience, trying to persuade a valued staff member to stay but as the employer, you’ve got to keep your practical business head on. Yes, you’re trying to please this staff member but at the end of the day the arrangement must work for the business too, says the recruitment adviser.

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