The Great Resignation: In some respects, the employer-employee relationship shares many characteristics of a personal relationship. You invest a lot of time trying to find ‘the one’. You have that first meeting and you like what you see / hear. Sometimes it can lead to a long-term commitment but sometimes it can be nothing more than a short-term romance, or even dare I say it, a moment of regret.  

Lots of employers are facing relationship challenges right now with the ‘Great Resignation’. Maintaining long-term relationships with those we might call the key people or the high achievers in the business, and having to manage the consequences of an increase in resignations where the relationships have not worked out for one reason or another. Sometimes the employer has done nothing wrong; the employee has just had their head turned by what they consider to be a more attractive proposition with another employer.

But unlike the dating world, where these relationships break down in the early stages the employer may have incurred an agency fee without the intended return on investment, has inevitable disruption to the business and will revert back to the frustrating prospect of having to source a replacement at additional cost.

There may be plenty more fish, but it becomes even more imperative you catch the right one.

We have some ideas as to how you, the employer, may be able to attract and retain the best talent, and improve your prospects of securing the right person, for a long-term, healthy relationship:

  • Have a clear idea as to what candidate you are looking for – it may sound obvious, but it is crucial that this is properly established internally, and if you are using recruitment agents, make sure they have a clear understanding of your requirements. This is not just about skill set and capability, but personality, values and ‘the right fit’.
  • Social Media Presence – it helps if candidates can look at what you have to offer, your approach to work life balance, your appetite to run social events, your commitment to corporate social responsibility, diversity and sustainability. Candidates will be gauging whether you are the type of employer they want to commit to; it does no harm for them to see what life could be like if they joined you.
  • Revisit your interview process – this is the first meeting, and it is clearly crucial in the process. It is a cliché to say it, but it is a two-way process, for both parties to understand if this might be a right fit. Use this process to gauge whether the candidate possesses the values that reflect your brand. You can ask questions that bring those issues to the surface. If the candidate shares the same values, the relationship is more likely to be a long one. Use this process to flush out any challenges – the candidate who is looking for a long-distance relationship, where you want to see them in the office more often, for instance.
  • Pre-Employment Checks – do your research. Has the candidate had a lot of previous short-lived relationships in the past, do they have difficulty making a commitment? You could even look at the Tribunal Judgments website (with caution) to see if their last relationship properly broke down. As we know, references are of limited value these days, but you are not prevented from making further enquires to try and get a better insight into the person you are looking to employ.
  • Probationary Period – this is often viewed as a period for the employee to prove themselves, and demonstrate they are right for the role. However, this is also a crucial period in establishing what is expected of the employee and setting clear objectives and actions. Invest the time in this process, and you are more likely to see the relationship work out.
  • Reviews – it is important to regularly meet with the employee to discuss the relationship, the things that are going well and areas for improvement. This is an important for both parties to raise and address any concerns that may exist, which will help ensure a healthy and effective working relationship.

Finally, we are lawyers, so we have to caveat the above by saying that we cannot guarantee the above will help you find ‘the one’. Clearly there will be occasions where no matter how hard you try it is just not going to work. Good practice would suggest that the termination of the relationship should not come as a surprise, as you will have regularly discussed the concerns as and when they arise. With any relationship, it is better to address the issues as they occur, rather than letting them fester. And of course, any termination during the probationary period usually entails a shorter period of notice than if the person is outside of that period, so will enable you to achieve a financial saving.

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