When your top talent quits, can you handle the truth?

We know that most candidates are either active in or monitoring the current job market, and even the most settled of employees can be enticed by the right opportunity.

In fact, when it comes to careers, we're a mobile bunch, with less than half of us staying longer than five years in our current job. There is one group of workers who buck this trend however, making up the highest proportion of people who have been with their current employer for over 10 years: managers.

These same managers are often genuinely surprised when a seemingly happy employee suddenly quits. The corner office doesn’t always offer the clearest view of what it’s really like out there on the floor, and some managers are blind-sided by the realisation that employee engagement is not what they thought it was.

Go direct to the source

For bold managers, sudden departures present the perfect opportunity to leave perceptions behind and investigate how employees really feel about the company they work for.

By going direct to the source, managers can uncover those issues that may be pushing talent toward the door. Here are three ways you can confront the truth about why your talent is leaving:

1. Exit interviews

Putting effective exit interview protocols in place for all exiting employees allow you to identify trends or systemic weaknesses in your company’s retention policy. It may be too late to retain this particular employee, but when you obtain candid, agenda-free feedback on why they are leaving, you can use this information to identify ways to improve over-all engagement and retention.

2. Employee engagement surveys

You don’t have to wait for staff to leave to get their feedback. You can health-check your employee engagement by running regular employee engagement surveys. Survey feedback helps senior leaders identify pain-points and put improvement plans in place. This anonymous, ongoing feedback may be the most powerful way to really understand what frustrates – and motivates – existing employees.

3. All-staff meetings

Here at SEEK, we run regular all-staff meetings where employees have the opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, our senior leaders. These relatively informal sessions are a great forum for sharing information and promoting open, honest communication between leaders and staff.

From weekly team meetings to six-monthly all-staff sessions, regular catch-ups will encourage an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their views with leaders and fellow team mates alike.

When you actively seek feedback on staff engagement, there’s no doubt the truth will sometimes be confronting. But even the most negative insight is positive when it helps managers retain talent and build a stronger culture as a result.
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Rebecca Supierz


HR Manager – AU and NZ

Rebecca Supierz leads the HR function at SEEK for three of our business units: employment and learning; product, development and strategy; and finance. Before joining SEEK in 2013, Rebecca spent nine years working at Telstra, leading teams across...

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