Employees request job changes for many reasons. They might be bored, burned out, or simply unhappy with their current job duties. Whatever the motivation, a transfer request usually says good things about your business — after all, the employee would prefer to stick with your company rather than go to a different employer. Depending on the employee’s skill set and your current staffing needs, there are a few ways you can handle the situation.
Determine Costs and Benefits
A job transfer can be a hassle, so before making decision, ask yourself if keeping the employee is worth the effort. This process is different for every company, but it’s usually a good idea to think about the employee’s expertise and how long they’ve worked for your company. A person who has been with you for 10 years is a valuable asset to your company — they have an enormous amount of knowledge and skill that only comes with time. Assuming you have a good relationship, this type of employee is almost always worth keeping. The same goes for people with extremely specific skill sets that can make or break your business; it can be very difficult to replace these team members.
Then, there’s the issue of practicality. Who would take over the employee’s current duties? Is there a new job available for the employee? Can you afford to pay them? How much would training cost? Your answers to these questions can help you decide if a job transfer is even a possibility. If it’s obvious that moving the employee to a new role is simply too impractical, time-consuming, or expensive, you may need to let them go.
Changing Roles Immediately
If you’re lucky, the stars align, and everything falls into place — there’s an open job for your employee, and you can find someone to cover their current duties. In this situation, your best bet is to act right away. Ask the employee to train the person who’s taking over their current job, and then move them into the new position. This keeps everyone happy and allows your business to continue running smoothly.
The Slow Transition
What if you want to keep the employee but don’t have a job ready for them right now? A compromise might be to ask the person to stay where they are as you slowly transition them into a new position. This process gives you time to find a new place for the employee without disrupting business for your customers.
If you choose this option, be prepared — it works best when your employee is only mildly dissatisfied. Someone who’s extremely burned out or truly miserable in their current job might not be able to bear the wait. That doesn’t mean you have to give up; instead, try to identify the things your employee hates most and take them away. If your graphic designer struggles with coding, for example, you could find an intern to handle it. These small changes can ease your worker’s unhappiness enough to help them ride out the transition.
Find Alternative Options
Sometimes, an employee transfer request simply isn’t possible. Fortunately, one of the great things about a small business is your flexibility. If the employee is willing, you can work with them to shift things around and create a job that’s more fulfilling. You might try cross-training or ask the employee to take on overflow tasks from a different area of the business. Exploration is also a great option: if your copywriter wants to be a video editor, ask them to create a few short videos for your Facebook page. By allowing flexibility, you can keep employees happy and build a more well-rounded team.
When an employee asks to change jobs, it can feel overwhelming. By recognizing the value of your workers and adopting a flexible mindset, you can find a solution that keeps everyone happy.