This article from the Wall Street Journal serves as an important reminder to employers that their employees’ perspectives matter. More than 75% of “departing employees” say they would not recommend their employer to others,” a 33% increase since 2008.
While helping hundreds of companies hire thousands of employees we’ve learned firsthand what happens when an employer’s reputation is “bad” or their employment “brand” is tarnished. Job candidates know; they find out through the grapevine or read about the company on-line.
Indeed.com has a “forum” section filled with negative comments by employees about specific named employers! Worse yet, there are websites allowing publication of “rants” about jobs and bosses. These “rants” are not edited, reviewed or verified, but they are on the web and can cause you harm.
When former employees speak negatively about their experience, future recruiting is impacted. What looks like a great job to fill on paper, can become very difficult to fill in fact.
Not long ago we worked with a client to fill an operations management job in a manufacturing environment. While we got about 200 candidates for the job, very few were local. The job, in a rural location on the east coast, had great salary and benefits. The job description read well too.
As the recruiting process dragged on, I had a chance to ask a friend who lived and worked in a related industry nearby our client’s plant if he knew anyone to refer for the position. His answer said it all: “No one I know would work there.”
A little more digging revealed that the company suffered from high turnover and low morale. Management tended to be erratic and alienated employees. Everyone is familiar with these work environments and tries to avoid them.
This can become a vicious cycle: poor employers attract poor employees, who bad-mouth the employer (while working at the company and after leaving).
What to do?
Focus on making your place of employment the best it can be for employees. Treat employees with respect at ALL times, but especially when they are departing.
If an employee leaves for a different job, thank them for their service and wish them well in their future. Don’t complain that you trained them and now they’re taking what they know and moving on.
If you must fire an employee, thank them for the service, acknowledge their feelings, sympathize when possible and help them toward their next job as best you can. Don’t yell, threaten, or scold. Don’t engage in a conversation rehashing past problems or reasons for the termination. When possible, ease them out of the position, do what you can to make it an amicable separation. Remember, if the employer is unhappy with the employee, the converse usually applies.
Understand the legal liability around each particular termination situation (and you should always consult an employment attorney). But it is probably more important to ensure that employees, exit with no hard feelings.
Working to build goodwill and a good employment reputation, leads to better employees and happier customers… a virtuous, rather than a vicious, cycle.
If you have specific questions please call or write!