What Can GCs Do About an Employee Mass Exodus?

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on March 19, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Employees quit all the time, but do you have the sneaking suspicion that several employees are quitting all at once? Maybe you're just paranoid, but as they like to say, just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not watching you.

A mass exodus of employees can and does happen, for a variety of reasons. Here are some common exodus scenarios and what you might be able to do about them:

An Improving Economy

When the economy isn't doing so well, employees hunker down in their current job and don't rock the boat. But when the economy starts recovering, as it has been recently, disgruntled employees looking for a change become more bold and go get other jobs. Several employees doing this at once means that there might be something rotten in Denmark -- or your company -- and they've wanted to leave for a long time.

What to do: The website HR Zone recommends taking a good, long look at employee benefits: "By providing effective employee benefits and recognition tools, employers will stand in good stead against the competition post recession, as employees seek out new roles that offer more than just a better base salary."

Client Poaching

Look out! If several employees, especially high-ranking ones, from the same department all end up leaving for the same company in a short time span, you're likely looking at a coordinated poaching campaign. The best you can do is enforce noncompetition agreements (to the extent they're enforceable), but in many industries, employees move to clients as clients take work in-house. More problematic is the situation where former employees are actively recruiting current employees to come work at the other company.

What to do: Litigation, maybe, if there's legitimate poaching going on, and lots of it, at high levels. But in most industries, employees float freely between clients and competitors, so the best you can do is have iron-clad NDAs and non-solicitation agreements.

The Smell of Death

Employees can sense when bad things are afoot. Perhaps your company has had some bad news in the headlines recently; if it's bad enough (like the loss of a major client), employees might take that as a bad omen and start looking for work elsewhere before they get laid off. The best you can do is reassure people that everything is going to be OK, but that might be hard if things actually aren't OK and layoffs are coming.

What to do: This is where morale boosting is key. Employees aren't dumb; all the motivational speeches in the world can't overcome that fear of dread that looms over an office when it's clear the halcyon days are over. Be public about the need to double down on existing business and obtaining new clients.

Any more tips on how to handle an employee exodus? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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