Recently, STAR India has seen the exit of its leadership team, which has created a vacuum at the top. The senior management of every company is essentially the team that leads the organisation forward. Working with them over the years, employees place their faith in them, and then one fine day, the head of the organisation suddenly quits. In his/her wake, a few more senior executives follow suit. That puts the entire organisation in disarray. Employees start becoming sceptical about the future — of the company as well as their own in the company. The shake-up impacts the morale of the employees in a big way.
The senior leaders are the beacons of light in times of crisis, and when they choose not to be transparent, or to communicate or spread key words around, it is an absolute fallacy.
That is when the work of HR becomes of utmost importance. Boosting the confidence of the employees in such times becomes necessary so that the exits at the top do not lead to attrition below as well. It is imperative that the HR department informs the employees about the changes above so that they don’t become a subject of office gossip. That also makes it important to strengthen the leadership pipeline so that someone can succeed as soon as possible. How can employees be kept from losing faith in their organisation when such exits happen?
Ankita Singh, senior vice president & global head – HR, admin, travel, IT, CIGNEX Datamatics, feels communicating correctly will be the key. “Communication becomes extremely important and HR has to take care of it. The reason why these people are leaving, whether it is a conscious call or not, what is the backup plan — all that needs to be communicated clearly at the right time and in the right manner, so that they know that the company is not collapsing. The reason behind the act or the strategy, which will take care of this movement in the future has to be shared with employees.”
Singh also emphasises that the employees should be informed about what is happening to the vacant post that has to be filled, along with data. “The information has to be backed by efficient and relevant data. If somebody is joining from outside, how she/he will help. If somebody from the system has taken up the responsibility, how his/her understanding of culture will help or how it will impact the business in a positive manner— all these things need to be shared,” and ideally, in a phased manner.
“Communication becomes extremely important and HR has to take care of it. The reason why these people are leaving, whether it is a conscious call or not, what is the backup plan — all that needs to be communicated clearly, at the right time and in the right manner.”
If insecurities within the workplace are not addressed, it can lead to many more resignations. Everyone seeks job security, and if the exits at the top threaten that feeling in employees, they tend to start looking out. Debjani Roy, CHRO, Mind Fleet, cautions that the first ones to leave are generally the best ones. “The senior leaders are the beacons of light in times of crisis, and when they choose not to be transparent, or to communicate or spread key words around, it is an absolute fallacy. The HR, in particular, needs to impress upon the leadership what it would do to the fabric of the organisation and how it may lead to chaos and loss of credibility. Employees start looking out and the first to leave the boat are really the best or star performers. They are the ones whose retention is necessary to help tide over difficult times,” Roy asserts. She also feels that the HR needs to exhibit more mettle during such times to make a difference — both for the company and the people working in it.
As pointed out by experts, multiple and successive exits from the top management can have a detrimental effect on the rest of the workforce. In such a situation, it is the HR that has to rise to the occasion, and be more communicative and courageous.