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Grow Your Business Your Team

Your Best Employee Just Quit ... Now What?

Your Best Employee Just Quit ... Now What?
Credit: Ollyy/Shutterstock

When employees quit, do you have a backup plan set up for replacing them? Most businesses don't, new research finds.

Just 10 percent of employees surveyed said there was someone internally who could step in to fill their role if they abruptly left their employer, according to a study from the staffing firm Robert Half Management Resources.

"Succession planning may feel like a long-term initiative, but the pain felt watching a star employee walk out the door with no backup in place is immediate and costly," Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a statement. "Having no 'Plan B' puts the business at risk, particularly at the executive level, where it can take a significant amount of time to replace someone."

Broken down by job title, executive departures are the ones businesses are least prepared for, the research shows. Just 8 percent of the executives surveyed said there was someone within their company who could easily replace them. [Few Companies Prepared to Replace CEO ]

Although determining succession plans can be difficult, small steps make a big difference, McDonald said.

"Executives and business owners can start by asking managers for succession plans specific to their teams, and use this input to form a broader organizational strategy," he said. "Cross-training staff also can prepare employees to take on new roles."

To help businesses develop a successful succession plan, Robert Half Management Resources offers several tips:

  • Start the process when making new hires. While it's critical to ensure you hire someone capable of filling the position you are hiring for, also consider the types of advanced roles an applicant may be able to fill with more experience. Additionally, talk to job candidates about their interest in wanting to build a career with your company.
  • Don't focus solely on managers. You need to consider all levels when developing a succession plan. By doing this, you will be able to identify additional lower-level employees who are capable of eventually becoming managers.
  • Get employee input. Make sure you talk to employees about their goals and outline specific steps they can take to reach their objectives. Not only does this help when creating succession plans, but it also aids in retention.
  • Boost training plans. Developing a succession plan will help you identify the skills and training employees need in order to move up the ranks.
  • Communicate your plan. Talk with your employees about the company's succession plans and how those workers may fit into the plans. Explain to employees that as a reward for their contributions, you will continue to increase their responsibilities. Be sure to describe the whole process, including what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. You also need to provide updates along the way.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,100 accounting and finance professionals in the United States.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.