Here's your situation: You're a recruiter or HR manager at a successful company. On a perfect summer day, someone in your office -- a high performer, or maybe just an everyday Joe -- grabs a couple of community sodas from the office fridge and pops the emergency exit door during lunch. He announces, "I'm outta here. This place sucks!" (Or perhaps something more colorful.)
Almost everyone in the company sees or hears about it. It makes the rounds on the blogs and maybe even the local news. His Facebook page, which includes a small manifesto about the "real" state of the company, gets about a million hits and a thousand new friends.
Fast forward to the next morning to your second interview of the day. (The first one canceled unexpectedly.) What do you say to the candidate to sell your company -- the one that was just raked over the coals by a disgruntled employee?
Your situation might not be as dire as this, or JetBlue's recent double-fisted resignation from the emergency slide, but we all have situations that shake the culture a bit. And if our slow recovery and reports of increased job dissatisfaction are to be believed, we're all likely to see more.
Acknowledge the obvious. Things happen. There's a lot of stress and strange things out there, and your company is no exception. But the company culture is bigger than any one employee or one event.
Don't discuss details. Your description of events might or might not be accurate, and you can't win in this situation. You stand to either look like you are badmouthing the employee, the company, or both.
Isolate the situation. Talk about how many employees you have versus the one angry one. Focus on the large number of employees that are currently happily employed.
Let's face it. In today's economy, once people heard about the possible open position, they probably flooded JetBlue with resumes. So the damage was probably minimal. However, most companies don't have JetBlue's track record or following.
If your company has experienced some negative "separation events," remind your recruiters and your staff of the three simple things above. They might seem like public relations tactics, but in this case, I think they worked pretty well. And if the predictions are correct, unfortunately, we're all going to have more than a few opportunities to use them.
Oh yes, and in case you haven't heard, the disgruntled JetBlue employee might have already been offered a reality show. Yes. We all saw that coming.