Don’t beg employees to stay as they leave


Pelicans wait and beg for the fisherman to throw back fish.

You’re not a child and you’re most definitely not a dog so don’t beg at work. Quite frankly, it’s really not a good look for you anyway. We’ll get to that. What I’m talking about specifically is when employers beg employees to stay only after they leave, or threaten to.

Whether an employee is asking for a raise or some other work environment change, their supervisors or HR do not usually take them seriously until they are about ready to leave or worse, already left your organization. So, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s actually quite disrespectful.

  • It’s disrespectful to the employee. When employers don’t consider an employee’s request for something to change to make their work environment better, the employee feels devalued. I’m speaking, of course, about high performers. You may not ever be able to make everyone happy but the worst thing you can do to your highest performers is to make them feel less than what they really are to you. Waiting until they threaten to leave to make a change doesn’t help. It takes a lot of energy for them to look for another job and go through interviewing processes. It is completely disrespectful to them when you make them an offer to stay only when you realize they can go somewhere else.
  • It’s disrespectful to the other organization that is ready and willing to hire your employee. If you wait until your employee has another offer on the table, you’re wasting the time of the organization that has invested resources in hiring your employee. It takes time, money and other resources – someone to source the applications, a recruiter, a hiring manager, an onboarding staff, trainers, etc. You wouldn’t want this to happen to you so don’t put this burden on others.
  • It’s disrespectful to your team. Your team is not just going to think that you do not value people but how are they going to feel when they find out you made a higher offer or change for the employee who was leaving? The message you are sending is that the only way someone can get a higher salary or positive change on your team is if they threaten to leave. Everyone will start looking for another job!
  • It’s disrespectful to yourself. As leaders, you have a responsibility to serve your teams and like it or not, you have a reputation to maintain. If you beg employees to stay only after they leave, you look like fools and that is not a good look for a leader. Respect yourself enough not to do this.

I’m not suggesting you give employees everything they want, not even your highest performers. The point is you need to take off the blurry glasses and at least take a hard look at what’s going on in your workplaces, how you are treating your best employees and consider making meaningful changes before you lose them. Take this as a way to look in the mirror at yourself and do a quick reality check because you often don’t realize the impact of your decisions and actions especially if no one tells you or you’re in the midst of a busy work schedule. Be proactive in making appropriate changes for your team instead of waiting until you feel forced to do it because they are looking for another opportunity.

I get it. Depending on where you are on the hierarchy, you may or may not have as much power as you would like in order to impact change. Before you give up on fighting for your employees though, answer this question honestly: did you even try fighting for them or did you just give up? Ask the right questions to your HR departments. Take the time to put a business case together to present to your senior leaders. Draft a well thought-out proposal for your boss. Use your connections. If you lose the battle, at least you know you went down fighting for what you believe was the right thing.

Enjoyed this post? Check out more of Lotus’ posts on leadership and career development plus free resources, templates and inspiration at OD Advocate.

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One thought on “Don’t beg employees to stay as they leave

  1. Pingback: My simplified interpretation of intentional leadership | OD Advocate

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