How should I respond to an employee who says they are job hunting?

Date: Friday, 5th April, 2019

It might seem like a strange decision to notify an employer that you are looking to leave before actually landing another role but there are various reasons why someone might choose to do so and how you respond as an employer might affect their choice to stay or go.

If, as a manager, you have a good relationship and regular catch ups with employees then hopefully any comment regarding leaving shouldn’t be too much of a shock! If you discuss career progression and their role with them at reviews, you should know what they are looking for and therefore have an idea if they are at risk of leaving. Nonetheless, even the most seemingly engaged employees can still decide to leave for various reasons.

To find out why they may be looking to move arrange a catch up with them, give them the opportunity to explain what type of role they are looking for and why they feel that leaving the company is the best option. You want to find out if there are push or pull factors making them look elsewhere, or if there is anything that you could do to retain them in the business.  We would always advise that the business seriously considers the situation before making any counter offer, as depending on the reason it may just delay them leaving by a few months and have a negative impact on other team members.

Whilst it can be disheartening as a manager, employees don’t always leave a company because they are unhappy, sometimes they may be looking to leave in order to progress their career. If this is the case, assess the factors and review if this could change e.g. are you able to offer what they are looking for, if not is it due to the size of the business, is it the organisational structure or simply the roles within the business do not cover the type of tasks they are looking for?

In certain circumstances it may be a gesture of goodwill and a sign of a positive, open communication between an employee and their manager that they are prewarning before giving their resignation. On the flip side, it may also be a case of someone looking for a counter offer, increase in salary or reassurance that they are valued in their role. We would always advise looking into the reasons why before deciding what to do, as it may be the case that that particular employee exiting the business is no bad thing.

Reasons for leaving may include being the wrong fit for the role, there may be wider disengagement issues within the business, salary and remuneration may need to be reviewed by senior management or the business may need to take steps to encourage communication. However, an employee notifying you that they are job hunting may just be a sign of a good relationship between manager and employee. In essence, whether the employee stays or goes there are always lessons to be learnt by the business to action and take positive steps forward.

If you have any ongoing talent or HR issues you would like to discuss, please give HR Revolution a call we’d love to help.

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