The Missing Piece in the Employee Engagement Puzzle

Stages of employee life cycle

The average job tenure for a random list of my 250 LinkedIn connections was 3.79 years. The median job tenure for the same group was 2.96 years. While this certainly is not a representative sample, the numbers do stress on the fact that people frequently move from one job to another. The frequency of this change has increased in the last couple of decades.

Reasons are many, both voluntary and forced. As “good companies” and the “great places to work” spend lots of resources in developing talent, attrition for obvious reasons remains a huge cost. A lot of planning and effort goes into employee engagement and retention.

Just as there are many reasons, there are many avenues too beckoning employees for the next job and “greener pastures”.  Hence, with all the planning, strategy and spends, attrition is very much an integral part of our work culture.

If attrition is such an integral part, how well do companies handle this last leg of their association with their employees? Some handle it better than most. Some do a decent job, some do a great job while many suck at it.

There are discussions with respective supervisors, managers and HR. There are exit interviews. However, there is more to be done. This brings us to the missing piece in the employee engagement puzzle – The Placement Cell.

The Placement Cell

When students graduate from their respective colleges, the placement cells play an important role to get them their first jobs. The placement cells play a crucial role in locating job opportunities for students passing out from the college. They stay in touch with reputed organizations and coordinate with the HR teams to organize campus interviews and facilitate employment.

Imagine how lost graduate and post graduate students would have been had there been no such placement cell. It certainly would be a nightmare for both – the companies looking to hire fresh talent and the students looking for suitable opportunities after completing their education.

The Placement Cells at colleges and universities facilitate a smooth transition from college to the first dream job for many.

There is a need to replicate this system in the work environment. Inhouse or third party could well depend on the size of the organization and the number of employees.

What problem(s) can we solve?

Well, many. Let us look at a few key benefits of the placement cell:

Benefits of the placement cell

Give employees a good send off

A great opportunity to give employees a good send off. Associations do not need to end on a bitter note. An independent placement cell within a large organization or an outsourced placement cell for smaller companies would ensure that. Employees would certainly welcome assistance from their employer to help them look for their next job. Not all employees would need the assistance, however having an option is what everyone would appreciate.

A better way to fire someone

A much better way to fire someone. Anyone who has had to fire someone would agree that it is indeed one of the worst tasks. However, at times it is necessary and needs to be done. Poor performance, ramp down or some other business reason could trigger the need to fire someone.

A lot of us may offer a helping hand in our personal capacity to find the next job for the person. However, a placement cell is just what we need in such situations. Technically, it won’t be firing the person. It would be similar to transferring the employee from one department to another. Here, it will be transferring to a new organization or may be a group company. Once again, it would be a great way to ensure a happy send off. Add some hugs too and a parting gift 😊

Serve as a Retention Desk

The placement cell would also serve as a retention desk. The cell is not meant to work as a traditional recruitment agency. Guidance and counselling are to be some of the key expectations. Employees often lie in their resignation emails and exit interviews. There is a greater chance of them being transparent when they approach a placement counsellor. A transparent discussion may at times lead to an amicable solution and retention.

There are some other potential advantages too. Employees seeking assistance from the placement cell for their next job are more likely to abide by the organization’s exit terms such as notice period. You could expect most to fare better in completing their handover to their respective replacements. The organization would also have some control on ensuring employees do not get hired by close competitors.

“Happy Exits” would certainly help in better employee reviews on various online forums. This would boost the company image as a preferred employer.

Conclusion

Exits are inevitable. Believe me when I say that not all attrition is bad. When planned well, the “move on” can be beneficial for both the company and the employee.

More than tangible benefits, we need to acknowledge a person’s need for a change. We need to let go and we need to let go gracefully.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. Let us manage the employee’s need for change with as much consideration as we manage the rest of the employee life-cycle. Let’s put together the missing piece in the employee engagement puzzle.

By Nitesh Verma

Founder - Business Management Blog. I am an independent business strategy consultant, helping companies take data driven business decisions. My mission is to find and implement simple solutions for complex business problems.

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