Mitigate the Headaches from Employee Attrition

Losing talented employees can be crippling to a company or business unit. You lose the skills and knowledge that has been developed over the years in your organization, and this can be something that is difficult to recover from if the wrong person leaves your organization at the wrong time. The customary two-week notice that is given by employees is often not sufficient for filling a position (especially a highly technical one), and you can be left with gaps in coverage and support. With the average employee tenure of 4.8 years in IT related fields (From the Bureau of Labor Statistics Report), it may not be right away, but you will lose employees eventually.

In my previous blog entry, I discussed the different roles on your business’ teams. Replacing the all-stars and role players are going to be the most difficult, but there are few things that can be done to decrease the sting of these eventual departures.

  1. Promote from Within if Possible
    Hiring and onboarding new employees takes large amounts of time. If you have talented employees on staff that can learn the ropes on a new technical role, then it will save you some serious headaches. Replacing high quality employees is incredibly difficult, but sometimes there are people on staff who can fill these roles competently.
  2. Keep Great Process Documentation
    This shouldn’t be a recommendation just for filling in holes created by losing employees. Documentation is often overlooked in the IT world, and this shouldn’t be the case. If you want to reproduce a fix for a problem, not having the proper documentation will make it that much more difficult. Having great process documentation will make your life much easier when onboarding a new employee.
  3. Have Backups; Then Have Backups to Your Backups
    Cross-training is essential these days. You never know when someone is going to have an emergency or need to take a vacation. Having someone to fill in will help in these situations and will be even more helpful if someone leaves. Having team members with the ability to fill multiple roles on a team will limit your exposure in the event there are ever any issues.
  4. Document Every Team Member’s Job Duties
    Knowing what everyone does on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis will be helpful in avoiding missing any of the subtle work tasks that an employee performs. In a technical role, this can be, but is not limited to service account password changes, log maintenance, disk space management, or database maintenance; all of which could have disastrous effects if they are not done when needed.
  5. Perform an Exit Interview
    This is a common practice for most companies, but it should not be overlooked. The best way to find out why a team member is leaving is to ask them. If there are any core issues within your team, they can be exposed at this point. Knowing any mistakes your company made in managing its employees can be enlightening, and help to prevent some future attrition.

No company wants to think about losing their best employees, but thinking that no one will ever leave is naïve. Make sure that you are prepared for any future losses.

If you have any comments or any other suggestions on mitigating the impacts of losing employees, please hit the comment button at the top of this post, and as always, be sure to follow me on twitter @burked585.

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