Let’s say that you are running a public company and an employee chooses to leave. The work they were doing is still important, and you have plenty of cash on hand, so you can easily backfill if you choose to do so. On the other hand, you can skip the backfill and instead reassign the work to the team, reducing costs and possibly improving the stock price in the process.

What do you do?

I’d always go with the backfill. Otherwise, you spread your team’s time and attention across a larger set of responsibilities, put more stress on your team and lower the opportunity for serendipitous innovation.

Ultimately, this can lower your product quality, worsen morale and encourage more employees to leave, and cause you to miss out on the next billion-dollar idea that your employees were about to come up with during the coffee break they didn’t have time to take. Worse yet, the short-term benefit of not backfilling could blind you to the long-term impact.

If foregoing the backfill works out well enough one time, what do you do the next time an employee leaves?