Avoidable or Unavoidable Leavers

I was chatting with a friend this morning who said that he had three of his team resign in the last week. He asked ‘That’s not good is it?’
On the surface we look at the cost of replacing them and all the history and experience that they depart with, and of course we say – ‘you’re right, this is not good’.
The first question I asked was ‘are they avoidable or unavoidable leavers?’ ‘What do you mean by that?’ he queried. This might be common terminology for HR professional – but most business owners (including myself until I was enlightened by the RedBalloon employee experience manager about a year ago) will be unfamiliar with the concept.
Unavoidable Leavers:

  • Those who are leaving because the circumstances of their departure are determined for reasons external to the organisation. For example, we had a designer who wanted to go to South America and build an orphanage and travel the world. There is nothing the business could do to support him in following his passion. He was a great contributor, highly engaged, produced great work…. but RedBalloon was not where his next life experience was going to come from.

Avoidable Leavers:

  • Primarily when the organisation has let that person down, either recruiting the wrong person for the role or not having the next career step for them. They might be engaged whilst employed, they may not. If they are not engaged, then the organisation has let them down in some way. Right person, right role, right values and management.

I questioned my friend further about why he had three employees leaving at once. I asked him to describe the circumstances of their resignation. Numbers can be deceptive without understanding.
I hear people talk about ‘churn’ rates, or retention rates – judging the effectiveness of a management team based on this. As far as I’m concerned the much more interesting conversation is about engagement. Did they play full out while they were employed?
Resignations provide an opportunity to review roles, adjust them, recruit new people with fresh enthusiasm and other life experiences into the organisation.
I’m very clear that as an employer RedBalloon is part of our people’s journey, it is not the destination. There are a lot of things that people want to do in life, our challenge is to make sure that they love what they do while they’re with us, and that when they do leave, they go with great stories to share about this chapter of their story.

Grow & Scale Your Business by Naomi Simson

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