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Former Employees: Ambassadors or Outcasts?

You've just discovered that 2 of your finest employees have given their notice. They are leaving to open up a restaurant, a long term aspiration held by both of them. You hear yourself thinking,"So, they're no longer leaving ONE at a time, but in Noah's Ark fashion - 2 at a time?!"

How can you hold onto your best people? Honestly, you probably can't, at least not all the time. We all know that there is no such thing as lifetime employment. The new goal, for employers, is lifetime association. The concept is to keep great people working with you, even after they've stopped working for you!

A proactive approach in avoiding turnover is always the ideal starting point. Once you are certain that your top talent is leaving for reasons beyond your control (i.e. spouse relocating, staying home with children, complete change in industry, etc.), keeping in touch with them can be a wise business concept.

Ambassadors. Alumni. Advocates. Boomerangs. These are all terms being used to describe an employee who once worked for your organization - and who still work for your company. These are the people who, when in conversation about your company, product or service, endorse it. They are often your best marketing and selling tool. They work as mini-recruiters, encouraging their friends (often top talent as well) and acquaintances to work for you.

Methods by which to foster this type of relationship with your company's alumni can include:

  • Keeping them informed as to the company's achievements and other noteworthy news by including them in the organization's newsletters.

  • Ask them to keep you informed as to their latest contact information, especially their email addresses. There may just be an opportunity for your organization to do business with them, and vice versa.

  • If you provide a referral bonus to employees who refer persons that get hired, extend the same bonus to them. Remember, they know the culture and expectations.

  • Send emails regarding current open positions. They may refer "a perfect fit" or... they may just come back to work for you! Hence the term "boomerangs." The ramp up time for a returning "alumni" is significantly shorter than a traditional new hire and they are able to symbolize that the "grass may not be greener" outside the organization!

So put away the hard feelings. Wish them well and promise to stay in touch. Recycle the cardboard box typically handed to them in which to immediately clean out their desk. Tell the security guard, who in the past would have escorted them to their cars, to maintain a keen eye for the real offender inside of today's businesses- Enron-like white collar criminals. You are just saying goodbye to what may become a terrific resource for your organization. And possibly tomorrow's rehire.

Kristine Sexter, President of WorkWise Productions is a professional speaker, workshop trainer, columnist and author. She works with companies of all sizes from start-ups to Fortune 500, as well as trade & professional associations across the country that want to reduce turnover and increase profitability by recruiting, developing and retaining star talent.
 
 
 

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