The grass is not always greener
It’s a common concern in business that if a company invests in its employees, chances are they will then be poached by a competitor. It’s one of the causes of that vicious circle: “I don’t invest in them because they’ll just leave, and they just leave because I don’t invest in them!”
Perhaps it’s time to consider fighting back. Are you keeping a list of the high-potential employees you have lost to a competitor, and touching base with them regularly to see how they’re making out in their new position? You may be surprised to learn that things haven’t worked out the way they had hoped and they might welcome their old position back, but they’re too embarrassed to ask. It also provides them with an honourable way to return to a workplace where they treasured the many relationships that were fostered with co-workers over the years. In order to hang on to the investment you make in these future leaders, consider the following:
- Identify the employees you consider to have high potential. Ensure that you are talking to them regularly about the opportunities available in your company, and keep them engaged and enthused with special projects and additional responsibility.
- If a high-potential employee leaves, ensure that you conduct a thorough exit interview so that you understand exactly why he or she is leaving. Make sure they know that they would be welcome back if things don’t work out.
- Follow up with that employee six months after they leave, just to see how things are going. If nothing else, they will feel flattered by your interest, but you may find out that they’re not really happy in their new role.
- If the employee left because a promotion opportunity wasn’t immediately available, be sure to call them if such a position does open up. They may welcome the opportunity to come back.
In general, sound human resource practices will inspire employee loyalty, but the timing doesn’t always cooperate. But that doesn’t mean we should shut the door forever on these significant prospects.