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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Talent Management, Turnover Contagion and Ransom Demands

No business likes to feel held to ransom by an employee.

Yes, that’s a dramatic headline to grab attention but sometimes when a key member of staff says they are leaving it can feel that way.

Consider your own organisation

Are there pivotal leaders that have transformed some aspect or section? Is a specific leader inspirational while truly promoting feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing amongst her staff group? What would the impact of her departure be to your business and the people that currently work with her?

Perhaps you think there’s always a replacement

After all, no member of staff is that important, are they? Surely everyone is supposed to work as a team. In theory, yes. But what happens when you do appoint a replacement, and he or she is a very different personality? The team that thrived may well feel more than disgruntled and you could start feeling the effects of Turnover Contagion.

Photo Olivier Collet

There are a few reasons for Turnover Contagion

When a team works together effectively people feel settled. In the main, although it’s not always the case, moving jobs is no longer a topic of conversation. However, it’s like a metaphorical prison break. When one succeeds others start to question their future. If a boss is replaced by someone very different or who manages with another less palatable style, then people may start feeling twitchy. It’s then that you could experience a mass departure of staff. What was once a department that ran smoothly is disrupted, unsettled and far less productive.

Resignations should sound the alarm

This doesn’t just happen because a pivotal staff member leaves it can occur when there is a change of policy or culture. Whatever the reason, when a key performer announces they have another job then the alarm bells should start to ring, not to promote action stations but just as a reminder this may well be serious.

Photo: Jen Theodore

There are a number of reasons for managers to reappraise the situation when they know a departure is imminent.

It is worth considering some of the following:

  • Think about your staff member that is going to leave. What can be done to minimise the impact? Do you have a workable plan in advance?

  • Is your niche or market uncertain in terms of availability of skills and labour? What can be done to circumvent this?

  • Does your recruitment strategy need an overhaul and is it time to bring in the professionals?

  • Examine staff that are in ‘structurally equivalent’ roles. They may be noticing the departure of a colleague and may well be influenced to look for another role. How might you manage this?

  • How can you strengthen employee retention?

  • Are you listening to what’s being said about the company, pay, working conditions, culture, personalities etc. Have you acted to make changes or investigate why there is dissatisfaction? Can you make cost effective improvements to benefit employees and the company?

  • Are you looking at and listening out for social signals?

  • Have you explored how your whole workforce is performing? Are there areas that feel fragmented or demoralised, unstable, or disgruntled? Do you have a strategy to cope with this?

  • Do you have a plan in place to deal with mass resignations or a steady haemorrhage a key leader might prompt?

  • Have you invested in talent management?

  • Are you relying on star performers and just praying they won’t leave?

  • Have you considered developing hybrid teams?

  • What new skills might be required by your company? Would existing employees jump at the chance of being retrained or undertaking a new challenge? Is reskilling one of your priorities?

  • Are you currently deploying or considering employing talent to the highest value opportunities within your company or organisation?

  • Have you helped prepare your employees to cope with changing and uncertain conditions with a rapid and creative response?

  • How flexible are your teams and have they been coached to cope with all types of disruption and change?

  • Have you considered flow to work operating models? This is where resource pools can be deployed flexibly as and when they are required. The benefit is to have the capacity to deploy talent, that may well be scarce across a whole company rather than having a log jam in one area.

The pandemic caused significant reappraisal of the meaning of work

Many niches experienced a profound exodus of staff and are yet to recover. In times of uncertainty people do think hard about what they are doing and those experiencing low pay and particularly difficult conditions experienced the impetus to do something different. For others that had been operating at executive level, the rapid cessation of endless meeting cycles, constant commutes and travelling and the overall pressure of an office-based job, was a revelation. So many legacy practices, that no one had questioned for years, were being ditched. The ‘new normal’ is constantly metamorphosing and companies should adapt.

Photo: Romain V

Change is not easy and doesn’t necessarily happen overnight

However, Meyrick Consulting is experienced and skilled in talent management and would be happy to chat through how we can help you manage your executive talent pipeline and minimise the potential disruption resignations and new hires could have on your business.


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