Not another resignation!! Top 5 ways to prevent valued staff moving on

Losing a valued staff member is costly on many different levels. Many of us have had that email asking for a quick meeting and then the subsequent knot in the stomach because you know what is coming. You then try and persuade the staff member to stay, knowing that you’re fighting a lost cause, but you have the conversation anyhow.

The worst thing is that, more often than not, the reason for leaving is because of something relatively benign that could have been resolved through better communication and a few conversations in the right places. Below are some of the most common reasons for employees to move on EXCLUDING career progression:

 1.    Better package elsewhere

In my experience, employees recognise the importance of not moving jobs too often because this looks bad on the CV and reflects badly on them as an individual. As such, employees are more likely to stay in their role for at least 12-18 months before looking for a new position. However, it is at this stage that they start asking questions about whether they are being rewarded in their current job, both in terms of job progression and financially.

Their inclination at this stage is to check the market to see what salary/package they can get elsewhere, typically by speaking to a recruitment agent or looking through the job sites. 

MY ADVICE – A review at 12-18 month stage is critical. Ideally, staff should be rewarded in any bonus scheme on a pro-rated basis if they have not been with the company for more than 12 months and salary increases/an upside in benefits should be judged on market forces as well as personal and company performance.

 2.    Doesn’t feel valued

The company P & MM employee benefits carried out a survey on employee retention and one of their key findings was that “Average retention rates ranged from 4.7 to 9.8 years for those employees who had not been formally thanked via a recognition platform during their time at each company. However staff retention rates rose to between 8.16 and 14 years for those who had received at least one form of manager or peer led recognition whilst employed in the same organisation (excluding long service awards).”

This is an interesting point and one overlooked by many employers. The nature of the PA role is such that the individual needs to invest a lot of time and energy into building a rapport with their boss/bosses to enable him/her to do the best job possible. If they don’t feel appreciated or valued in return, then this can often lead to de-motivation and ultimately a resignation letter.

MY ADVICE – If not already present, then it could be worth introducing a system where good work is positively recognised through a periodic review process. I think that valuing someone DOESN’T ALWAYS mean increasing salary or giving an employee an extra benefit. It is positive validation that the employee wants to hear. They want to know they are doing a good job and their hard work is being recognised by their Boss/es and peers.

 3.    Structural changes

Your company might have acquired a new business or been taken over. In any event, the role of a particular employee might have changed markedly. They might be supporting a new Boss or, in a market where companies are making cut backs, a much bigger team.

We often find candidates looking to leave their current role because they have been asked to support too many people and they feel that they don’t have the time in the day to provide the level of support they would like to.

MY ADVICE – Communication is key. If an employee understands the changes that are taking place, then they are likely to be more receptive to them.

 4.    Doesn’t get on with Boss or Colleague

The relationship between a PA and their Boss is key for both parties. Where there isn’t a natural connection or where a PA has not been able to build a relationship over time (sometimes it can take 6 months) issues can occur.

In the same vein, if an employee feels that they don’t have the respect of their peers, then they will also feel disheartened. We see a surprising number of candidates coming on to our books because of on issue with someone at work.

MY ADVICE – From day one, it is important that an employee has a clear understanding of their responsibilities and the expectations of their role. Occasionally, a PA is expected to instinctively know what support to provide and how it should be provided. This is often not the case particularly when a Manager may feel that they were not properly supported by their last PA, they may be less willing to hand things over, like diary management etc.

HR need to be sensitive to new support staff joiners and to make sure they have clarity and time invested in them by the person they are supporting and have a clear method to feedback if there is an issue.

 5.    No progression

One of the biggest challenges employers face is how to ensure that their employees feel they are progressing in their career. This can be particularly hard with your support staff where roles are often defined and there isn’t the capacity to move into a more senior PA role. Most employees want to progress their salary, their knowledge and responsibility so the Employer able to offer this is going to be in a strong position to retain their staff.

MY ADVICE – One of the questions we are asked when we talk to a candidate about a new job, is “Where can this job lead me to?” or “What is the scope to progress within this role and/or company?”. It is a real advantage if an Employer already has the answers to these questions at the start of a hiring process. If this isn’t possible, then it is important to carry out regular reviews with your employees to check that they feel as though they are progressing and at the yearly review stage, set a plan for the following 12 months on how they can move forward within the business. This can be as simple as being given more projects and responsibility within their current role, which ultimately adds value all-round.



David Morel is the CEO/Founder of Tiger Recruitment, one of London’s leading secretarial/administrative recruitment agencies. David founded Tiger in 2001 and has written extensively in the press and wider media advising both Employers and Job seekers on best recruitment practice.

020 7917 1801 / [email protected]


Be the first to comment.