Mitigating the Loss of a Key Employee

Whether it’s the on- or off-season, the sudden departure of a staff member can leave you in the lurch

Mitigating the Loss of a Key Employee

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Some employees make your life so much easier: You can give them work and know it will be completed in a timely fashion. You never have to chase them down to finish projects. They are on time, dependable and more. When they finally move on to another job, it is a real hit. When they leave during the busiest part of the season, it is an even bigger hit. 

There is no easy fix for the loss of a key employee. In most cases, you molded that person to be what you needed. We are in a unique industry and most of us are small businesses, which means people are really doing two or three jobs at the same time. Finding a replacement who has a wide skill set, is willing to be flexible about his or her work, and is familiar with our industry is almost impossible. So what do you do?

Look Within

The easiest way to fill a gap on your team is to look within your organization. In some cases, there was someone who worked with this person and with some additional training and handholding, they could easily step up to the plate. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a backup quarterback just waiting around, then look in other departments. 

Last season, we lost one of our dispatchers in August and we needed to fill the role fast. We ended up moving someone from customer service into the open slot. It took a lot of training but, in the end, it has been a huge success. She knows both sides of the business and generally sees routes with a fresh set of eyes. The best part of her becoming a dispatcher is that she is always looking out for the customers first.

Other Alternatives

Unfortunately, there are times when you just don’t have someone on staff who can fill a much-needed role. Posting a job ad will bring in many potential people that may be a great fit for the job. But you don’t always have the time to screen candidates and interview them. You need someone now. 

When the need is urgent, an agency is a great place to start. Most people believe employment agencies are just for temporary workers. But that isn’t always the case. 

Last summer we needed to add someone to our operations team. We spent months interviewing on our own but we couldn’t find the right person. We eventually went through an agency and they matched us with three incredibly well-qualified candidates. The benefit to the agency is that they had already prescreened every candidate so it greatly sped up the process. Picking an amazing candidate from three was so much easier than sifting through hundreds of resumes.

Losing a key employee is a big hit to take. It is often someone who you worked with on an almost daily basis and truly relied on; now you are not only out an employee but a colleague, too. Finding someone to fill those shoes will take time, but sometimes you are lucky enough to end up with someone even better.  

About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia


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