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How to soften the blow of team members leaving

Posted in Articles

Have a look around your office and count your colleagues. Now imagine that one in three of them is thinking of leaving their job. That’s a staggering number, isn’t it?

According to a new study by Epinion for the Danish business association Business Denmark, one in three Danes is thinking of leaving their job. (1) Another Danish study from only last year, by market research company Ennova, shows that one in three employees in Denmark wants to leave their job within a year. (2)

But how important is staff retention?

The destabilising effect of resignations

Estimates of the direct costs of resignations range from 20% to a multiple of the employee’s annual salary. (2) What often doesn’t get measured are the indirect consequences of a resignation.

Colleagues need to step up and fill the gaps, making it harder for the team to reach their goals. Leaders also need to get more involved in operational tasks, often at the expense of team management and strategy. This has profound effects on both the short term and long term performance of the team.

Job satisfaction at the heart of the problem

Unsurprisingly, the main reason for employees leaving is a lack of job satisfaction. If you keep in mind that Denmark consistently scores as a country with some of the highest job satisfaction ratings in the world, the figure above becomes even scarier. (3)

One part of job satisfaction is the job content being challenging and inspiring, another is the salary being sufficient., but a frequently underestimated factor is the opportunity for development.

Easy wins through personal development programmes

A recent UK study found that the majority of UK employees (63%) would switch employers if only they got more training opportunities. (4) Moreover, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. (5)

Boston College, Harvard University and the University of Michigan went a step further and implemented personal development training programmes to measure the direct impact. (6) They found staff retention increased by more than 10% during soft skills training programmes in specific.

Numerous studies have shown that offering soft skills training has an immediate impact on reducing your staff turnover. What often doesn’t get covered is the importance of soft skills when it comes to dealing with the consequences of a resignation.

Soft skills reduce the impact of resignations

As mentioned before, the colleagues and managers of a leaver often get put under a lot of additional pressure (and stress).

Firstly, effective project management and time management skills are essential in this transition period.

Secondly, strong communication skills among all members of the team will ensure nothing falls through the cracks and everything is handled in an efficient way.

Thirdly, if anything does fall through the cracks, the team needs to be equipped with the right problem solving skills.

And fourthly, with stress comes friction. Conflict management skills can avoid or resolve time-consuming arguments and other types of friction that can slow down or even paralyse a team.

The conclusion: make sure your entire organisation receives adequate personal development training. Not only will this help diminish your staff churn, effected teams will also be able to cope with resignations more effectively and more efficiently.

Thomas Buus Madsen is the COO and co-founder of Bookboon, the world’s largest e-book publisher for employee effectiveness and soft skills. By making its platform incredibly easy to use and only publishing industry-leading experts, Bookboon boasts some of the highest usage rates in the digital learning sector.

Get a free copy now of Bookboon’s “21st Century Corporate Learning & Development” by Prof. Dr. Nick van Dam, Global Chief Learning Officer at McKinsey & Co.