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How to Deal When Your Star Employee Leaves

Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell


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Have you ever had your best employee leave the company unannounced? Or do you see turnover happening ridiculously quickly, and you’re not sure how to fix the imploding of your department? When people leave your company, your employees can start to feel overwhelmed because there is suddenly a gap in the team, and the workload can quickly become excessive. As an HR manager, you should take an employee leaving as a sign that it’s time to re-evaluate the workload and learn how to deal with gaps in your department.

Be proactive.

According to a recent infographic from BambooHR, the top three reasons employees leave their jobs are advancement, work/life balance, and money. Being proactive and taking care of your employees will go a long way toward solving high turnover issues in your workplace.

Evaluate why they left.

Before moving on and finding another employee to step up or hiring outside your company, you need to first understand why the employee left. There is a saying: Employees leave managers, not companies. Understanding the reasons behind why they left can shine a lot of light on problems within your department. If you’re able to fix the  issues that are there, it might prevent other employees from leaving you.

Fill the temporary gaps.

When an employee leaves and there are gaps within your workforce, it’s important to fill them quickly to keep a heavy workload off of your other employees. In highly demanding industries, you may need to use temporary workers to cover the gaps, or redistribute other jobs so some workers can fill in temporarily. This is the best way  to keep all of your employees happy during a transition period, and prevent others from following suit.

Show your support.

Something we may forget when our star employee leaves is to show our support for that employee. Back in the day, I hired one of the most ambitious employees ever, and I knew when I hired him that he would not stay for long. And when he left to do great things, I was sure to show my undying support to his adventures and dreams. When good employees leave, you’ve got to show your full support, because you never know where life will take them and where they’ll be in the next five or ten years.

Stay positive when communicating the news of the employee leaving.

Employees have an unwritten code in which they all support each other as workers in the trenches. If a star employee leaves, it’s probably safe to assume that many of the other employees already know, but it’s still important to formally deliver the news in a positive manner, so that you’ll gain support from the other employees.

Having a star employee leave is never fun, but if everything is managed properly throughout the entire transition phase – from evaluating why the person left to filling the gaps in your department, to showing your support and staying positive during the overall process, then you’ll get past the rough patch, and before you know it other stars will be stepping up.

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About Jessica Miller-Merrell


Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.

2 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Macy L. March, 16, 2015

    I must admit that I perceive losing a star employee as a personal failure. Of course I understand that the business world is constantly changing. People come and leave, and this is natural. If all people stayed at their current workplaces, companies wouldn’t be able to hire experienced professionals or share experiences. But still… I hate the feeling that I have missed something.

  • Tommy K. March, 19, 2015

    To preserve your image of an expert HR manager, you should stay calm and friendly when the best employee goes away. Try to remember that an HR manager and other employees share a lot of things, like a similar working schedule, the same accommodations, and a morning cup of coffee. So, it is better to defer to this side of your personality when dealing with an outflow of labor and take it as a success of your coworker, not as your own loss.


Guest March, 19, 2015