Q: Having rented offices in north London for the past few years, my co-founder and I are planning to move our HQ to Hertfordshire, where we're both from. What's the best way to announce the move to our 12 employees - and make sure they don't jump ship?
A: You can't make sure. You can only do everything you can to make them want to stay. The fact that this decision is so clearly in your own and your co-founder's interest means you start on the wrong foot. 'It's all very well for them' is what your staff will be muttering to themselves.
But you're fortunate in having only 12 employees. This means you can give each one of them personal consideration. So before you make the move generally known, work out as best you can what the implications for each of them are likely to be in terms of travel, time, schools and expense. Then work out what you can do, again on a case-by-case basis, to minimise all the likely disadvantages. (One or two may even welcome the move.) Be as generous as you can afford.
Then get them all together, tell them about the move and say: 'This, of course, is going to affect you all, and in different ways. So we'd like to talk to each of you separately and tell you what we've got in mind to ease any pain there may be.' When you've done that, ask them to think about it, talk it over with their families and then come back for a further discussion.
You may not satisfy them all, but you'll have made it very clear that you rate them highly and hope they'll stay.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems on firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.