• Tracie L James

Bleeding employees?!

I recall one time in my career when I shared with a co-worker that I was leaving the company and then she shared that she was interviewing so she could leave as well. I wish I could say this was the only time this happened in my career, but it happened rather often.

As leaders, we need to understand that there is never just ONE employee that’s looking to leave. When one employee becomes dissatisfied they’re often not alone in this feeling. They may not even be discussing it with each other until the first person turns in their notice… or more recently just quits without any notice.

Throughout my over twenty years in business, I have seen companies bleed employees without any thought to stopping it or even why it was happening. Most recently, I have worked with some companies training their leaders on effective team strategies. The company was willing to invest in their leaders, but I watched as their leaders struggled because they kept losing employees. You never know what is going on behind the scenes of many profitable companies. You would be shocked to learn how they struggle with major employee issues.

You are probably wondering what companies I am talking about… I cannot tell you. Just know that from the outside looking in you would never expect them to have employees fleeing from their company… many of them without any prospects for new employment. This is a major issue if left unchecked will destroy even the most profitable company. Your internal client is so important to your company’s ability to service your external client. Leaders must make it a priority to take care of their people.

The REAL Cost to the Company

Employee turnover is very detrimental to the bottom line of the company. There are many things to consider when you lose an employee – the cost associated with their knowledge and experience, the cost of replacing them (recruitment, interview and background checks), the time it takes to replace them and the training costs. The real cost can be overwhelming for a company with a slim profit margin.

The dangerous part is that many companies ignore the signs and continue with business as usual. Leaders must take action to keep their employees. Below you will find a few of my strategies to help you stop the bleeding if it has already started or prevent the bleeding before it starts.


1. Acknowledge that what you are doing is not working. The time for business as usual is over. You must see what’s wrong to devise a plan to fix it and ensure it doesn’t happen again. No problem goes away if you keep your head in the sand.

2. Have open, honest dialogue with employees. Talk with exiting employees to find out why they have made the decision to leave. You will be amazed at what people are willing to share once they have got one foot on the other side of the door. In addition, check in with the employees still there. Assume they are all interviewing. Talk openly with them and get their input on what changes need to be made. If they are uncomfortable, allow them to share anonymously.

3. Listen and show empathy. Don’t get defensive. Remember their perception is their reality. You may not agree, but it is how they feel. Empathize with them. To retain your employees, you must develop a plan to correct the issues.

4. Follow through and make the changes needed. Do not just talk about it and make promises. Put the action behind the plan. Stay aware of what is happening as you implement and adjust as needed. Most importantly, stop the bleeding.


1. Start with effective onboarding, including a partner for their first 90 days. It is imperative that the process is clearly outlined, and new employees do not feel frustrated or confused. Effective communication begins with the job offer.

2. Give personalized welcome kits. A great way to show your new hire how much the company values their employees. Nice company branded items and a few treats would be great.

3. Develop a professional development plan during the first 90 days. Show them you are willing to invest and help them achieve their future goals.

4. Share the vision and values through the actions, not just words. Be consistent.

5. Offer flexible schedules to promote quality of life. Keep the focus on productivity, not what has traditionally been done. Technology makes it easier today.

6. Avoid overtime by maintaining proper staffing. Utilize part time or temporary staffing to handle rushing in your business. Be proactive instead of reactive.

7. Follow through consistently. Be a woman or man of your word.

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