It can be the curse of SMEs, why do so many employees, in whom we've invested so much time and training, leave us?
You're probably familiar with this scenario: you bring on someone young and keen, give them all the opportunities you think they want- including extensive training and mentoring... and a few years in they hand their notice in to start their own business. In direct competition with you! There are many reasons why employees go down this route, here are just a few.
If you've got yourself a great member of staff and have put loads of energy into their training, it may be the case that they are starting to get a bit bored. Ambitious and eager employees who have soaked up your knowledge and expertise in the first few months or years of employment, will continue to seek out that same level of workplace excitement. You may think you've provided them with the job opportunity they wanted in the first place, and have given them excellent training, but it might be that your employees want the next level. That could be career progression, or it could be a challenging new project. Are you making sure to offer this kind of step up to your staff?
Craving C-level flexibility
When you took your first steps into self employment, why did you do it? It could easily have been because the opportunity to be your own boss offered a much greater level of flexibility. Managing Directors are used to balancing their personal and work lives, getting in late (or early) and leaving early (or late). They attend to life admin during the day, and schedule doctors or dentist appointments for when they can fit it into their schedule- and this probably won't be during the evening or at the weekend! You can't really begrudge your employees for also wanting this level of flexibility, and if you think this could be the reason that you're loosing talent- why not seek to address it? There shouldn't be any problem with offering your employees the same level of flexibility that you have yourself, and better yet, if they start to take the p*ss, it'll help you sort the wheat from the chaff!
Toxic working environment
It could be the case that you're loosing your employees to other businesses, rather than to self employment, and in this case it could be that you have a toxic working environment. Are your staff genuinely happy? Do you nurture a workplace culture of acceptance, support and respect? Or do you suspect that there might be cattiness, dissatisfaction and stifled creativity at play? As the boss, you have the power to change this. Its your personality and your inspiration which sets the tone of the business, use it to improve the lives of those around you and lead by example.
The truth is, that as hard as you try to not only bring on the best team members; to nurture and train them; to provide interesting projects and challenges; as well as a nice working environment some people will naturally gravitate to new pastures and some may even go on to become leaders themselves. And we might lament them, but when it comes down to it, we can't really blame them.