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Do you take former employees back?

We spend so much time discussing retention, and not nearly enough time with the people we want to retain or those we want to return.
There are companies who have a policy not to re-employ.
There are also companies who have alumni strategies where they continue to engage with former employees with the clear objective of re-engagement.   These strategies usually sit at executive level and tend to focus on high level talent.
It has always surprised me that companies won’t re-employ, when I hear senior execs say that “you can’t go back” – once people have moved on, taking them back cannot be a good decision.
I disagree.  
First of all, when you find people who add value and fit your culture, they are gifts that don’t go into the re-gifting cupboard!
It is a reality that people starting their careers are advised to try different opportunities.  If you hire young people, they will move on.   Your investment in their training will be an advantage to their new company.
But what an advantage to you if they continue to grow and develop and then return to your business.
Social networking has made keeping relationships so much easier.
It is also a great idea to have company sponsored former employee functions.  They can be annual, or every second year, and attended by all levels of current and former employees.
Creating a positive relationship should keep your business opportunities top of mind with former staff, as well as give the correct impression that the door is open.
My communications manager, Clara Namnick, calls them boomerang employees and has commented that high performing returning employees are a morale booster for incumbent staff:
  • Re-inforces that the incumbents are right to stay
  • Reduces training time
Like people who are emigrating, resignees spend a lot of time justifying the reasons for leaving, sometimes correctly!   This can be hugely negative, and is the reason why many companies allow short termination periods.   The boomerangs offset this very effectively.
Offering to continue to mentor former employees is also effective, as is keeping an eye on their careers as a sponsor.
It might not always pay off in returns, but there are so many positives in keeping strong ties with ex employees that building it formally into the company culture and strategic intent makes a lot of sense.
 Links, References and Notes
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Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source.
email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn

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