Losing a key staff member can be very costly and potentially detrimental to any small business. But by evaluating what caused your employee to leave and making sure you handle the hiring process properly, you can turn that loss into a learning experience.
For one, it’s important to keep a very open dialogue with all employees, as happy employees rarely look for new work. As your business grows, it is easy to get caught up in the business of your company and stay occupied up in your office. It is hard to get a true pulse on morale if you’re not making a conscious effort to be involved with all aspects of production—especially if your staff were used to you being hands on and working side by side with them. If you are spending too much time in your office and not enough time with your staff it does not take long before you are looked at as “The Man”, and resentment can quickly build. It would be a good idea to have weekly meetings with all of your staff so that each employee feels involved and understands the state of the company, and you can get a gauge of how everyone is doing.
Next, when searching for a replacement, do not just hire the first person who applies for the job. It is easy to have a knee-jerk reaction when a key staff member leaves and just hire somebody because they are available. This is not fair to anybody, including yourself and the new hire. I have found that most people applying for a position will be overly confident and underqualified. Check references and do multiple interviews with a potential candidate if need be. There is nothing worse than bringing in a new employee just to find out that they fudged a bit here and there on their resume or application, especially if they are going to be dealing directly with your customers. There is little that looks worse for a small business than constantly changing out customer service reps.
When you do finally get that right person in, train, train, train. Do not just throw your new hire to the wolves and expect them to thrive. It may take months of training before they fully understand the complexities of your business. Training is very costly and needs to be done as diligently and efficiently as possible. Your employees can make or break your business; they truly are the most important assets that a small business has. Making sure that your employees are happy and well compensated could be the difference between success and failure.