It’s OK if Your Employees Quit. Here’s Why.

Leaders should celebrate their workers’ decisions to leave.

June 07, 2022

A person with a resignation letter

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—"If you’re offended when an employee decides to go, you’re probably doing something wrong as a manager,” writes Dr. David Lenihan in a Fast Company article.

Lenihan, who is president of Ponce Health Sciences University and co-founder and CEO of Tiber Health, believes that leaders should work to make their key staffers as employable as possible elsewhere, while doing whatever they can to maximize their satisfaction, growth and productivity.

And then when they are ready to exit, managers should celebrate their decisions and maintain strong professional bonds with them.

Lenihan says he has found success attracting and retaining employees through compensation and training.

“I research what the salaries are for management roles in my industry, and I try to set our team’s compensation higher,” he writes. “While the economics of a job aren’t everything, they’re a reflection of the results that I’m expecting someone to contribute, as well as an acknowledgement of what they’ve achieved in their career journeys.”

He also is serious about ongoing workforce development.

“A leadership team whose perspectives are consistently stimulated and stretched will undoubtedly be more valuable to their organization.”

Lenihan admits that investing so much in an employee and then they leave is an expensive business model, but he says it’s only expensive at first, but in the long-term, “the dividends that come about when an executive makes a job switch surpass the initial recruiting, training and acclimation costs for someone to fill their open role.”

He says that these “dividends” happen slowly, don’t have an expiration date and have consistently yielded four valuable outcomes for his organizations.

Awareness and credibility: When Lenihan’s former employees leave and start a new job, he believes the awareness and credibility of his organization improves among its peers and in the marketplace. “The brand image of our company is also enhanced since the training, savvy, and skills that these execs possess are credited – by them – to their stints with our team,” he writes.

Partnerships: Lenihan says that one of the first things that his team members do when starting a new job is figure out how they can form a partnership with its former company. “Since they’re familiar with their former company’s unique capabilities, they can arrange mutually beneficial collaborations that demonstrate an ability to quickly deliver innovative solutions.”

Potential job applicants: When former employees share their positive experiences at their past companies, it encourages other people to apply at these companies. “Given the competitiveness of today’s employment landscape, having this kind of goodwill and enthusiasm among prospective new hires is invaluable. It creates a halo effect among motivated talent that allows me to discover, meet, and select premier candidates,” Lenihan writes.

Easy transition: When an employee leaves Lenihan’s company, because they had such a positive work experience, they are more willing to help streamline the entry of their replacements into the workspace/culture. “This generous assistance helps to simplify the onboarding process and reduce our onboarding costs.”

“The long game mindset that we embrace may run counter to the tenure commitments that most business owners and CEOs expect from their employees, but it should be considered,” writes Lenigen.  “It’s a slow and patient strategy that creates abundant growth benefits for team members (current and former), prospective hires and management.”

Listen to the Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 332 “Is the ‘Great Resignation’ Over?” for more advice from experts from McKinsey and Company for navigating this competitive labor environment.

This NACS webinar explored how retailers can attract and hire team members today and in the future. From virtual hiring to job shadowing, retailers are employing a host of ways to find and connect with potential workers.