If You Lose One…You will Lose Several

You have all heard the expression that bad things happen in threes. As an employee retention speaker and employee retention trainer, I tell my audiences that if you lose one person, chances are that you will lose two or three.  Is it just bad luck or is something else going on?  Trust me…something else is going on.  This is a phenomenon I have seen played out over and over.

When someone quits your organization, they tend to have a social network within the organization.  In many cases, they are closer than family, particularly if a person has worked there a long time.  It is naïve to think that when people leave they cut all ties that they have in the organization.  This is where the danger comes in.  When your former employee leaves, they are still in contact with other people in the organization.  In many cases, they play golf, hit the bars together or go fishing together.

After your employee leaves, they happen to be going fishing with their buddy, who happens to work for your company.  They are heading out this upcoming weekend.  I will guarantee you, the first thing the buddy will ask when they get on the boat is “how is the new job going?”  Needless to say, the former employee will begin to tell him all the great things that go on at the new company.  After all, they have only been there a week and is still looking at his new company with the starry eyes of a new lover.  So, the only thing your employee hears is the good stuff.  It generally takes a while for people to see the lousy things about a job because nobody tells the lousy stuff to a job candidate.

Even if they are starting to see some negatives, people tend to rationalize away bad decisions and the former employee will still tell your employee how wonderful things are at his new gig, just because they don’t want to admit they made a big mistake by leaving.  Now, add on the fact that the new company offers a $1000 bonus to employees who refer other people.  The former employee, who doesn’t see how bad his new company is or will not admit, tells his buddy that they are looking for even more machinists and there is a bonus for referrals and if his buddy signs on, he will split the $500 with him.

When you put all of this together, the likelihood that someone else will quit jumps significantly.  This is very difficult to counteract.  Your retention strategies should be to aggressively keep your ear to the ground so you hear ahead of time if someone is leaving so you can intervene and stop the first departure.  Be proactive on the front end so you don’t have to be reactive on the back end because, when you lose one, you will probably lose several!

Jeff Kortes


Jeff speaks and conducts workshops regularly in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana. He draws on his experiences as a human resources professional, father, coach, martial artist and U.S. Army veteran to provide thought-provoking programs that yield results.