There might be some good reasons to retain (or attempt to retain) employees after they’ve announced they want to leave their jobs. I guess it all depends on what motivated employees’ to declare their intentions in the first place.
Find out the reasons why employees quit is a good way to figure out the collective attitude from employees about their workplace, the opportunities they have for work elsewhere, as well as a lot of personal lifestyle concerns that come into play with one’s decision to remain or to move on from a current job.
Trying to retain employees who want to quit doesn’t have to come down to dissatisfaction with the workplace; there are many reasons why stellar performers look for new employment. Finding out those reasons comes down to strategic communication!
Every employment and retention decision should be evaluated on its own merits. Just as managers should be careful not to encourage employees to walk out, retaining employees should be handled one-on-one, rather than by following a company-wide policy to avoid discussions with anyone who’s voiced their desire to quit. At the very least, an exit interview will help the employer understand why employees quit but wouldn’t it be nice to prevent the need for that? Wouldn’t it be better just to check in with employees every now and then rather than find out how things are going after they’ve decided to walk out the door?
When employer’s need certain employees so much that they think they are justified in expending unusual amounts of effort to keep them, the employer also communicates more than they expect or should be willing to convey. For example, going the extra mile with some (but not all) employees can signal to the workforce that certain employees are irreplaceable while others are not worth the effort, Worse yet, it can convey to the workforce that their employer is desparate but doesn’t want to spend the time or make the effort to recruit equally capable replacements. It’s this subtext that conveys the real reason employees decide to leave a workplace! When employers take the time to try and strategically tap into that information, it will help employers make good (or better) decisions about what they should do next (if anything).
Is it better to treat everyone the same in this type of situation or should managers be selective as to whom and how they try to retain employees? One size shouldn’t fit all.
Is this about finding a new position within an organization that is a better fit for the employee? I am all for that. That is the things that go into a good HR Plan. When you hire someone, you almost always find that they are not quite perfect for the job. Building into your organization’s HR Strategy ways to allow employees to find a place that fits them well, is a win-win-win.
In the government there has to be some uniformity about procedures. Not sure how that impacts the conversation…how much discretion does the manager have?
That said, I think the problem is not when the employee says, in effect, “I want a divorce from this organization.” The problem is that too often the issues they have are common and could have been remedied through simple measures (such as communication) that don’t cost much money or time. Because of poor internal communication, misunderstandings erupt and fester and institutional knowledge walks out the door.