How to manage the risk of great employees leaving


What do you do when you hear a key employee is job searching? Or decides to leave? In this competitive market, losing a key employee can cripple your business. Take a risk management approach to this HR issue.

The Facts

You can avoid the risk and influence employee decisions through a specific employment agreement or contract. This may discourage great employees from leaving and under what terms (non-competes, contract expiration date, etc.). However, unless prevented under a specific contract term, an employee leaving voluntarily is possible. If you keep in mind that people need to do what's best for them… it's OK. Be supportive and graceful (if they are a good employee).

Control the Loss

Don't go to your "little kid" and be angry. Instead, focus on what's best for your business and control the loss through prevention and reduction strategies. Keeping your best employees happy and engaged is the best risk prevention. Get compensation right the best you can all of the time, which means it needs to be at market for average employees and at least a step above for the great ones. You can prevent adverse effects on your company by asking the departing employee to do the following: 1) request that they not call your clients; 2) communicate honestly – and mean it – that by leaving they are not burning any bridges and if they seek another opportunity with your company they will be treated respectfully; and 3) offer to mentor them if they are going to another industry with which you are familiar. In this manner, you will earn the respect of those who remain as they see that it is not the end of the world or the relationships developed if they choose to leave.

Employee Experience Quality Improvement

We ask our employees what they would like their career growth path to be, and then help them get there. Remember, it is not too late if you discover that the employee is interviewing. Intervene if it is in the best interests of your company. At the Applied Companies, we have always espoused that meaningful work, open and honest communication, and work-life balance creates the "great place to work" culture here. The reality is that money makes a difference to some folks. We need to keep up-to-date and we go through a salary survey periodically. On a quarterly basis, we ask for honest feedback as to how we can improve as a company. Although we do not have people voluntarily leave the company often, we ask a set of questions before they leave:

What are you not getting here that you can get there?

If you had a magic wand, what would you have changed?

What do you need to stay?

What can they offer that we cannot? Do you really know that we can't? Did you ask us?

Does this decision serve you well?

Be magnanimous. Try to learn where they want to go in life and confirm their decision is going to get them to the end result. That's a risk you should be willing to take.


Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today's workplace. Celeste Johnson and Tom Miller, Applied's division directors, contributed to this article.

Read the article in the Reno Gazette-Journal here

April 2015 Brain Teaser

Brain Teaser Courtesy of EPLI Pro™

The issue: 

Every company has one, a difficult employee to deal with. They are late, insubordinate, poor performers, and well…just bad! To add insult to injury, you attempt to discipline this employee by writing her up. During your discussion, the employee exclaims, "I'm not signing that, it's not true and I don't agree with it!"

How should you handle this issue? 

A. You stop the meeting and shred the write up. What's the point, she won't sign it.

B. Terminate the employee for not signing the write up. That's insubordination.

C. Write in "Refused to Sign" and the date on the employee signature line. The disciplinary action is valid and in force.

The answer is C.

This a common occurrence, especially with difficult employees who have no intention of adhering to your policies. They think they have found a loophole that keeps you from disciplining them. Not true. Make sure you write “Refused to Sign," date the document, and give the employee a copy. Take notes of the meeting and whether the employee refused to sign and why. Include statements made by the employee. It is advised to have a witness, usually another manager, attend the disciplinary meeting to corroborate your account of the facts. If the employee claims they never received the disciplinary action, you can confidently testify that it was delivered, along with a witness statement, and a copy of the disciplinary action.

Differentiate your business with superior service

In 1980, the Harvard Business Review published an article, "Marketing Success Through Differentiation of Anything." I use it every day. Porter wrote in 1980 that strategy should target cost leadership, differentiation, or focus. Porter claimed that a company must only choose one of the three or risk that the business would waste precious resources. This article influenced my career because it taught me how to differentiate what I was doing from the rest of the market.

I used to be in the fastener business. You can have two great hex head bolts from two different companies and they are exactly the same — same thread pitch, same finish, same diameter, etc. What influences the buy decision? Over my years of experience, the absolute bottom line is — service. How you serve your clients and the relationship you have with them is what will seal the deal or kill the sale. People buy from people they like and trust. We have a division that is a staffing company. There is nothing as generic as a staffing agency because people are people, right? Wrong. Every day as a company, we evaluate what new business we want to pursue so that we can protect the high service level that we have with our client base.

Prove yourself – ask for recommendations

This is a must in business, and yet I will always be uncomfortable asking for referrals. I think it cheapens your image. My favorite kind of phone call is one that starts like this, "I was talking to so and so and they said they use Applied, so I'm calling to talk to you."

Know your customers

Without this data, how will you do your job well? It is the personal touch that makes all the difference. I remember all of my customers' names and birthdays, their kids' names, and their dog.

Develop a working model for success

Others can try cost cutting or the latest tech to win more business. I know that a high level of service is the only way to go. Recently, I spent time at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale. I have a Hilton Honors card, yet I almost got a Marriott card because of the experience. I will stay at that hotel again because the consistency of the excellent service means there is terrific training. Every employee with whom I had interaction, from the minute they opened the door, I felt welcome. Employees used the same words. Brand consistency and high quality makes you want to tell a friend.

Evolve and improve

Continuously improve to meet the high expectations you've set in your customer's minds. Stop by your customers' office for no other reason than to say thank you. Ask them, "Is there anything we can do for you to improve our service?" Improvements we have made include: email time cards; pay cards instead of paychecks; electronic W2s; online storage versus lateral file cabinets, and online employment applications.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We are in the people business, so we have decided that we will never have an auto phone attendant. Although we can make tech advances, the tried-and-true, above-and-beyond customer service for which we have a reputation will prevail as the reason we beat out our competitors.

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today's workplace. Celeste Johnson and Tom Miller, Applied's division directors, contributed to this article.

Read original article in the Reno Gazette-Journal here

5 Ways to Stand Out in the World of Business

We are now living in a world that is constantly stimulated with information and technology. How do we, as aspiring and current business professionals, ensure that we do not get lost in information overload?

Here are five simple tips.

1. Keep an updated resume.

Simple enough. You never know when an opportunity will come along, having an up-to-date resume allows you to be ready for anything that may come your way.

2. Are you on LinkedIn? You should be.

According to a study conducted by Jobvite in 2012, 93 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to look for candidates. The popularity of this platform has continued to be apparent over the past few years. This online networking tool is key to your success and remaining relevant in a fast-paced digital world.

3. Online portfolio.

If relevant, create and maintain an online portfolio on sites such as WordPress or Weebly to further show your work. Samples of work and your personal style will contribute greatly to your potential success with different companies.

4. Social media presence.

Keep your biographies, connections and news feeds updated on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Retweet and share relevant content to your field and position yourself as a thought leader among your network.

5. Professionalism.

Do not post, share or do anything online or elsewhere that compromises your authenticity. If you would not be happy with an employer seeing it, do not do it. Maintain a level of professionalism in your life and reap the benefits. 

5 Ways to Ace Your Interview


In a world filled with fierce competition, a seemingly scarcity of jobs, and a general fear of not being recognized, it is sometimes difficult to remain calm when interviewing for a position. Luckily, there are ways to combat your doubts and remain confident as you go through the process.

Next time you set foot in an interview, set your nerves aside and use these five tips to ensure you stand out

1. Dress appropriately

It’s better to dress up than dress down. Dress ahead of the position you are looking for. Always look professional and business ready, the effort not only shows, but matters as well.

2. Be pleasant

Let your enthusiasm show during your interview. From the moment you walk in the door until the moment you leave, your demeanor should be pleasant and engaged, ensuring that your potential employer knows just how much you want to be there.

3. Shake hands

Sometimes all it takes is a small gesture to show your worth. Upon the beginning and end of the interview, extend your hand and give a firm hand shake. Make sure to make eye contact and prove your confidence.

4. Remain genuine

An article from Forbes (link), stated authenticity as one of the main components of acing an interview. It is important to remember to never be someone you are not, and instead be genuine to your skill set and potential.

5. Be grateful

Be grateful for the position you are in. By knowing that where you are is exactly where you need to be, and remembering that every opportunity is a gift, you will say the right things and your gratitude will show.

There is no magic equation for finding the right fit, however taking these components into consideration will help you through your interview, and give you the tools needed to land that job.