Employer Branding

When Great Employee Quit: Let Them Fly or Buy Them Back?

Let’s face it, finding good recruitment consultants is a challenge we all have to front up to. Some agencies go down the rec-to-rec route and throw money at the problem, with mixed results. Some rely on a referral scheme and many others rely on direct advertising to attract the right individual.

The thing is, is that it doesn’t matter how much time or money you spend in sourcing a consultant. The fact remains that you have no idea how productive they are going to be or whether they will be with you in five years’ time.

Hiring new consultants is like investing in en primeur Bordeaux wine. You might have the benefit of some snippet of information from an expert or two at purchase, but in reality the proof is in the drinking down the line. It could be the best investment you have ever made. Or you might have a healthy stock of cooking wine for a winter stew!

The bottom line? Good consultants are a rare breed and they should be cherished at all costs. Well, nearly at all costs. More later.

Great employee resigns. What now?

First of all, I believe in always carrying one consultant too many in each division within your recruitment business. Employees are always going to move on and to save that “pit in the stomach” feeling when someone sends an email at 8am on a Monday morning requesting a meeting, be prepared. You won’t feel quite so bad plus it strengthens your negotiating hand.

Secondly, we are talking about a good consultant. A top-billing, easy to manage, glass half full individual. In other words, you want to keep him/her. So buy him/her back. No question.


Firstly, you need to understand why the individual is leaving. Is it money? Lack of promotion opportunities? Have they fallen out with a fellow team member?

Some reasons will be resolvable and some won’t be. You need to know why and you need to listen. You might not like what you hear, but now and again you might just have a eureka moment and realise how your business has changed or how you as a manager have changed and there could be a win, win.

You also need to know whether the consultant has signed a contract elsewhere. If so, why are they moving to a competitor and what are they being paid? Once you have assimilated this information, you need to move quickly and come up with a solution. Be prepared to think outside the box.

Where to draw the line

There is a point at which you need to let even the biggest biller move on and that is when they believe they are bigger than the business. No-one can ever be bigger than the business, regardless of how small the business is.

There have been some great Business Owners and Sports Managers who in the past have made highly controversial decisions by getting rid of their key staff or sports stars.

In many cases, the reason was that the person in question thought they were bigger than the business/sports club. If this was left to continue, the Manager/Owner loses respect from the other team members/employees and the success of the team/business suffers (although trust me in the short-term you’ll be blinkered by the financial and perceived reputational loss caused by the departing individual).

So, ask yourself the question – when negotiating with an individual who has handed in their notice, what can you do to make them stay, without going a step too far?

Avoid losing talent in the first place

The final point is a simple one. Invest in your staff and create a structure where Consultants never want to move on in the first place. Yes, you will lose staff who relocate or change careers, but if you lose a member of staff to a competitor, then you need to ask yourself why? And don’t be too proud to make the changes needed to stop it happening again!

About the author: David Morel is Managing Director of Tiger Recruitment, a leading recruitment company in the secretarial/administrational arena.

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