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So, Your Superstar Employee is Leaving. Now What?

Losing a top-performing employee is a scenario that is never easy to deal with. Sometimes it is healthy to have someone move on to the next step in their career. However, the situation can significantly challenge the team's overall productivity and morale. This article will explore crucial considerations you can make when dealing with losing a superstar employee. These include whether to make a counteroffer, finding the best replacement, leaving the door open for the employee to return, and ensuring a positive experience for the departing employee.

Counteroffers? First, understand why someone is leaving

Making a counteroffer to departing employees can be risky for employers. The move can create an environment where employees threaten to leave to get a raise or promotion. To avoid this, you must understand the employee's underlying reasons for leaving. If compensation is the only issue, a counteroffer may be viable. However, a counteroffer may only delay the inevitable if the employee leaves due to a toxic work environment or a lack of growth opportunities.

Assessing the employee's value to the organisation is essential in making a counteroffer. Consider their departure's impact on the company and team's performance. If so, a counteroffer may be necessary to retain the employee. However, if the employee's departure would have a minimal impact on the organisation, employers may opt not to make a counteroffer.

Work out what you need next

If the employee decides to leave, finding the right replacement is essential. The departure of a top performer can create a significant gap in the team, so you need to balance taking time to find the right candidate for the position with the broader talent market. It is crucial to assess potential hires' skills and cultural fit to ensure they are a good fit for the team and take any lessons learned from the leaver into the hiring process. Furthermore, you may need to restructure responsibilities or add resources to fill the gap created by the departure of a top performer. Can you promote internally? What has changed since you were last hiring for this role?

You should conduct a thorough and structured interview to find the best replacement. For this, it is crucial to have a well-defined job description that outlines the skills and experience required for the position. Organisations should work with executive search firms for senior, critical and commercially sensitive appointments to get speedy and high-quality results. As you're hiring, you should also consider what you need to do during onboarding to ensure that the new hire gets up to speed quickly.

Leave the door open

Leaving the door open for the departing employee to return is another consideration that you must make. The possibility of the employee's return can help maintain a positive relationship between the employer and the departing employee.

An honest exit interview should focus on the reasons for the employee's departure and what you can do to entice them back in the future. You should communicate that you are open to the possibility of their return if things don't work out elsewhere. Maintain contact with the departing employee after they leave to keep the possibility of their return alive.

Be positive

Finally, ensuring a positive experience for the departing employee is crucial. The departure of a top performer can negatively impact the team's morale. Handle the situation with professionalism and grace to minimise the impact. Employers must ensure that the departing employee feels supported during the transition process and that their contribution to the business has been valued.

In conclusion, losing a top-performing employee can be challenging for any company. By making the right decisions when dealing with the loss of a superstar employee, you can minimise the negative impact on the team and maintain positive relationships with the departing employee. Employers must assess the employee's value to the organisation before making a counteroffer, conduct a thorough recruitment process to find the right replacement, and, if suitable, leave the door open for the departing employee to return.


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