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How to Win Back an Employee Who Matters to Your Business

How to Win Back an Employee Who Matters to Your Business

By: Roberta Matuson 

The last thing a manager wants to hear is one of his star employees saying, “I quit.” Yet it happens all the time. But just because a good employee leaves doesn’t mean you can’t win this employee back. 

Competition for top talent only seems to increase each year (my 2014 article on talent poaching still remains relevant.) That means you’ll need to put more effort into retaining high performers by regularly conducting stay interviews as well as offboarding seasonal hires who you want to return. 

But if they do walk away, these talent management strategies can help you win back a high-performing employee.

Stay in Touch
How often have you made a decision that you regretted? For most of us, the answer would be often. We all have regrets. So do employees. 

A common scenario in the workplace involves a good employee who is having a bad day. His manager may look at him the wrong way. The words, “I quit!” fly out of his mouth before he even realizes what he’s said. The employee may wish he could take his words back, but he can’t — so he leaves.

One of the best ways to win back good employees is to make it a point to stay in touch. You can do this in a number of ways including sending an occasional email. Let the former employee know you’ve been thinking about him or her and wanted to reach out to see how they are doing. 

When doing so, consider including an article that might be of interest to them or perhaps sending a quick note about a local happening that is right up their alley. 

You can take this process one step further by picking up the phone and asking how their new job is going. When doing so, remind high-performing employees that they are welcome back anytime. 

Make your Offer Irresistible
Once a top performer walks away from your company, you can entice your best employees to stay or return by creating a work environment that works for them. 

For example, suppose they gave notice because they are no longer able to work the schedule they were hired for. This is a good employee who is worth keeping. 

If at all possible, consider adjusting their schedule so that leaving is no longer their only option. Ask them specifically what it will take to retain them. Don’t dismiss any ideas until you have had adequate time to consider all of them.

You may not be in the position of winning back a good employee by simply offering them more money to come back. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t entice them to return with a promotion if there is an opening for someone with their job skills and work ethic.

Keep in mind that to win back good employees, you will need to think out of the box. Career development opportunities are high on the wish list of many these days – particularly for Millennial employees

Provide assurances that you will continue to support their career growth. You can do so by committing a dollar amount so they can attend courses or work with a coach who can help them elevate their game. Think about whom you know that may make a great mentor for this person. Offer to make an introduction, should they decide to return to your firm.

Address Management Issues
By now you probably have a good idea why your high-performing employees are taking their knowledge and skills elsewhere. Now is the time to take action and correct problem areas that are preventing good employees from staying. 

For example, it’s no secret that many people leave companies because of their boss or manager. Is one supervisor in your business having significantly more voluntary turnover than the rest? Is this the same supervisor that you’ve been considering moving out? Do what needs to be done. Remove this supervisor.

Then reach out to those high-performers who have left due to their managers. Let them know there is a new management team in place. Ask them to consider coming back. Don’t be surprised if some say yes.

Continue to monitor the environment so that you can correct problems before they become big issues. This will help you retain those high-performers that you’ve worked so hard to secure.

Allow People to Leave on their Own Terms
It may seem unorthodox to discuss allowing people to leave on their own terms as part of a story that’s focused on how to win back an employee who matters to your business. However, this is exactly what some of the best companies do as part of their employment strategy. 

Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels and Resorts, said it best. “We tell our employees we hope you’ll stay. If you do decide to go, we hope you’ll come back.”

When probed further, Leondakis said that many people do return. There is no shame in coming back. And those valued employees who do come back are welcomed with open arms.