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How to manage ‘Flight Risk’ in Recruitment

Flight Risk: A person who appears ready to leave a job or relationship, presumably for a better opportunity elsewhere.
(via Urban Dictionary)
"Aaron's a definite flight risk, I hear he's posted on monster.com"

'Aaron' may indeed have posted on monster.com, be talking to recruiters, or just generally keeping an eye out for the next, best opportunity. But why? Is there anything you could have done, can still do, to incentivise him to stay? And could you have seen this coming?

It can be a difficult line to tread as a hiring manager: on the one hand one wants employees with ambition and drive - someone  who doesn't display goals, self-awareness and a proactive attitude is not someone you want on your team. On the other hand, significant get up and go is what makes an employee, well, get up and go...to another company.

The onus is not just on the candidate to develop a Lassie-like loyalty to your brand. As an employer, engaging and retaining your employees should be at the front of your mind, particularly during such times as these where the economy is uncertain.

Under these economic circumstances it is of course imperative to keep driving revenue and make sure business retains momentum. However it is also crucial to remember that a negative economic outlook also affects the morale and experiences of every employee and this is certainly not the time to be losing your best workers. Just because there's a recession on, it doesn't mean your staff are not able to find other jobs - excellent employees are always in demand. And as the economy appears to improve, people will begin sticking their necks above the parapet, on the lookout for potential new opportunities.

Of course, identifying those employees most likely to leave isn't an exact science, however Dangletech helpfully provides a list of identifiers for potential Flight Risks:

  • Ambitious: always reaching for more responsibility/status/money
  • Mobile: has previously shown willingness to risk changing jobs
  • Unsettled: has not yet 'bonded' with the current organisation
  • In demand: has skills/experience that are a) easily transferable and b) in demand

Look around your office. See anyone who looks like this? If so I suggest you get up, go to the nearest cake shop and buy them something nice. These people need recognition, competitive salaries, positive challenges in the workplace, good relationships with the company and their colleagues, and a decent work-life balance.

Frequent, honest communication with plenty of feedback from both sides will help you recognise these employees and what they need. The place to start this dialogue is at interview. Many of the best candidates we see are those who we have to work to keep engaged - it helps FreshMinds to be a good recruiter and it will help companies to be good employers. Rejecting a candidate who you worry may be a flight risk because they are good is a mistake - after all, do you really want the competition to nab them?

However, recognising those candidates who will be a flight risk because - no matter what you do - your organisation or even your entire industry is not suited to them or indeed out of line with their long-term goals, is a positive decision. They may love you, your company and even the role, but if there is a major point of disconnection with their overarching goals, it won't work out. Let these flight risks soar into their sunset while you find an employee who is happy to nest in your organization for a more significant period of time.

Maria is a consultant on the Interim Team

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Photos courtesy of finkorswim.com and visitsmithfieldisleofwight.com