How to avoid a surprise resignation

  • 21-03-17
  • David Landau

Looking for a job is rarely fun. If you’re currently in a role, it all too often involves late nights trawling through job boards in secrecy to avoid anybody finding out that you are looking for a new opportunity. You don’t want to be seen in the office as someone who is on their way out, and you certainly don’t want your boss to single you out at work either.

As an employer, you might notice the signs that a person is looking for a new role, no matter how secret they try to keep it; a noticeable drop in engagement and an exponential increase in “dentist appointments” tend to be a good sign that someone is looking to leave.

All in all, this kind of approach to job searching isn’t good for anyone – so why does everybody still do it?

The simple fact, employers, is that your employees don’t trust you.

The only way to solve that problem is to identify the cause and put steps in place to fix it; by fostering an open relationship with your Accounting staff, encouraging them to give feedback on their role and the organisation as a whole together with providing an environment where they won’t be penalised for coming forward should they feel their time has come to move on, for whatever reason. I acknowledge this is far easier said than done, as proactively discussing your job search or other concerns such as salary, can be viewed as a cultural taboo. However, creating an open internal culture can foster an environment where these challenges can be easier to discuss.

Here at Richard Lloyd, for example, we try to reinforce our open culture in everything that we do. The idea, in simple terms, is: “If you have a problem, talk to us.” There have been occasions where someone has told us they think their time with Richard Lloyd has come to an end, and they’ve done this well in advance of leaving. This gives us the time to plan, find a replacement, and have a really effective handover. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that we get it right every time, but it does limit the potential for damaging situations – something that is crucial in the Accounting recruitment industry.

Instead of ignoring obvious underlying issues until they become a problem, have regular conversations with your team and don’t skirt around topics like career planning, progression and happiness in their role. Have informal catch-ups with your team members, individually, every month or so. It can be as simple as taking them for a coffee – out of the office, you would be amazed at how much more communicative people can be. Let them talk and really listen to their concerns. If they bring up that they’re unhappy, help them where appropriate if you can, including offering career advice if they’ve already decided to explore options outside of your business. By getting ahead of the problem and acknowledging the employee’s plans before they hand in their notice, you can either address them or ensure that you are prepared for when they do leave.

Another big benefit of having an open culture is the positive impact it can have on the employee. By knowing they have your “blessing”, they can continue to work without the pressure of being the odd one out. Be understanding when they approach you and give them the flexibility to find a new role while continuing to work with you. More often than not, this results in them doing their best to ensure that everything is in order before they leave permanently, rather than switching off the moment they hand their notice in.

The way you handle this situation will also resonate with your team, increasing their respect for you and your personal culture, and making people feel more comfortable at work. A further advantage of this is what it can do for your brand. By respecting that openness and flexibility, the individual will have nothing but positive things to say about you and the Company once they leave, which will help you to build great professional relationships.

In closing, if you’re consistently surprised when an employee resigns, perhaps it’s time for you to take a look at your internal practices and assess how you can improve them. Fostering an open relationship with your employees encourages higher productivity and gives you the opportunity to get ahead of problems, as well as being good for your brand. It’s time to ask ourselves why the process when someone leaves a job should be less important than when a new employee starts!

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