What To Do When Your Employees Start Leaving


The value of top performing employees is important to an organisation. They are the best asset of a company. Keeping them must be given top priority.

The top performers need less supervision. They are good in time management, conscious of quality and delivery. In short, you cannot ask for more from them.  

But oftentimes, they are neglected and not appreciated.

As managers, you usually give more time to those who are not performing well.  You have no time left to mentor the achievers.  Besides, they still perform well even without coaching.

Then one day, you receive the unexpected resignation letter. You hope that a counteroffer would suffice as a negotiation. However, most of the top performers have an unwavering decision. Their decision is not haphazard. It is well planned.

Your valued employees are actually not indispensable. You can always train somebody to do their tasks. They can be succeeded anytime. But, they cannot be replaced.

Their absence creates a certain void in the company.

You didn’t just lose a skilled employee. You lose the dedication, commitment, and loyalty. Therefore, keeping them should be a top priority. Better to act early before you lose the others.

Be prepared to know the truth

When an excellent employee resigns, be sure to know the truth behind it. Most employees are hesitant to tell the real reasons during the exit interview. They are afraid it will affect their professional reputation in the future.

Management must find a way to have an honest discussion. This is with the premise that the discussion is off-the-record.  Make an appeal that having honest feedback is actually a good legacy to the company. It gives the company a chance to improve.

Prepare some questions ahead. Make the conversation friendly, and if possible do it outside the office. Discuss the company culture and values. Ask if the person has encountered unfair politics. Is the work challenging and the workload enough? If you are the direct manager, ask if you have been a harsh boss and/or a demanding one. Don’t be afraid to hear the truth.

The truth hurts but it’s about time you hear it.

Don’t forget to take down notes on the issues raised. Ask for suggestions and solutions to the existing problems. It is also important that you mention how valuable they are to the organisation. Highlight their contributions. Be lavish with your commendation on their excellent work. Who knows, maybe they have been waiting to hear it for a long time. Apologise for the times you failed to appreciate their hard work. Yet, be quick to mention their small mistakes.

Be courageous to face other employees

When one or two valued employees resign, the management must decide to act. The company cannot afford to lose more. Take time to identify your valued employees and talk to them one by one.

Face-to-face conversation is time-consuming but the result is worth it.

Ask their opinions and suggestions to make them feel valued. Discuss the issues they experience at work. Talk about their salary, benefits, vacation leaves, overtime, and other things. Ask them about their other goals and aspirations. Are they bored with their current work? Are they ready to transition to a higher responsibility?

The conversation should be a feel-good meeting. Listen with empathy and be sincere with your responses. Avoid being defensive and talk less.

Be sure that after the meeting you have some written action items. Involve the employee in coming up with some solutions to issues raised. Before ending the meeting, discuss what is the best interval for a regular catch up.

Focus on what's necessary

Analyse the common issues raised by your valued people. The result serves as a guideline for improvements.  Define a strategy on how to keep your good employees.

As an organisation, decide on what to focus on and make a retention plan. Some retention approaches focus on compensation, benefits, and recognition. Others focus on company culture and values. For some, it is more on leadership and management style.

The approach for every individual is different. The focus varies depending on the specific aspirations and goals of the employee. Discuss what the company is able to provide. And, have a win-win discussion on how to achieve the goals.

Act promptly

Employee retention plans should always be on top priority. Remember you can’t afford to lose more of your valuable employees. Implement the new strategy right away.

Discuss your retention plans in organisation meetings. Commit to a timeline and decide to follow through. Show your commitment to improvement. If you promised not to micromanage anymore, then learn to trust your people.

Monitor the action plans for individual goals. Don’t cancel a set one-on-one appointment. Your top performers need to feel their value on a regular basis.

Be conscious of your commitments. If you expect your employees to deliver on time,  then do the same with your commitments. Walk your talk to avoid causing disappointments among your employees.


The impact of losing a valued employee is not obvious right away. However, when not handled well it could become a precedence of more resignations. There is a possibility that close friends might consider resigning too.

While the top performers are easy to manage at work, most of them are also people with high expectations. With the excellent work they give, they also expect you to treat them with fairness. They feel bad when you give credit to others for something they work hard for.

The key to managing them is open communication.

Have a regular one-on-one meeting and hear their views. Ask them blatant questions and be ready for the truth. You will realise that most of them actually care about the business. They are not just brains of the organisation. They are the prime movers who lead others to act.

Yes, your valued employees are indeed your best asset. Do your best to keep them.

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