The loss of a key employee to a company can have devastating effect on morale and productivity and potentially cause an economic hit for the entire company. The loss may come by relocation, losing an employee to another company or any sudden departure of an employee. By taking proactive steps, you can minimize the effects of losing a key employee to your company.
Identify key employees – who can you not afford to lose? Who is doing a unique job at your company? What would be the initial and long term impact of losing a key employee? Consider each employee in your company and what the effect would be if they didn’t return.
Develop a knowledge management program: In many organizations, key employees have important knowledge in their head but not on paper or documented (passwords and procedures that this individual may have but others do not). Where is this information and where is the directory stored? Develop a knowledge management program that documents this vital information for the next person in the position.
Cross train across departments: One person should not have all of the important responsibilities or projects. Making sure others have been cross trained across department’s leaves you covered in case someone is out for the day or indefinitely. Actually have employees perform each other’s tasks periodically so they have practical experience performing the actual tasks of the other employee. For example: “You’ve trained me on the month end procedures, how about this month I do the reports so I have practical experience completing this task”.
Hold regular update meetings: Hold regular staff meetings where you update everyone on a project. This will prevent a blind side and keep a project on track if a key employee leaves the company.
Stay in touch with a staffing or recruiting firm: Having a relationship with a staffing company that is familiar with your company, can reduce the down time of the loss of a key employee. They have access to a professional pool of candidates that might be able to step in and keep things on track.
Current Employees play a large role in filling the gap after losing a key employee. Communicate what is needed and examine the impact to the company and departments. Discuss if there is restructuring needed to keep the business running smoothly.
As the leader or owner of the company, embrace the necessary changes so that employees can do the same. The loss of a key employee is difficult no matter the situation. Being prepared can make the transition as smooth as possible to keep things in the company on track.