Amidst the waves of resignations, layoffs, quiet quitting and other workplace trends, Sam and Faiz catch up over coffee. Handing in the notice letter and being handed the pink slip are vastly different feelings. And, the two friends had these two contrasting experiences. Yet both of them discussed the continuing ties and positives of being an ex-employee, rather alumni, of their previous work organization. What do you think makes them speak in such a manner?
The person leaving or the company laying off, there is no right or wrong, for each has their own reasons. After all, businesses and employees are people with emotions, dreams, goals, and personal lives. But what’s the way forward? Does one only reminisce about the good old days or simply cut connections with the past? Well, the current environment has evolved an appropriate answer to this. Keeping a channel of communication open with past employers allows one to??
Factors like stagnant markets, increased competition, fund shortages, and more require difficult decisions at times, like benching, layoffs, and trimming the work down. But this need not mean cutting off and alienating the outgoing members. Take the example of Airbnb. Barely a couple of months into the pandemic, the company had to cut a quarter of its employee. But the transparent and empathetic approach, combined with proper severance packages, made the cuts less traumatic. Compare that with the recent cuts at couple of major tech giants, which can only be best described as insensitive and careless.
As an employer or leader, it is erroneous to assume that employees are beneficial as long as they are with the company. But nothing can be farther than the truth. Transfer of knowledge and responsibilities are not the only defining values of former employees. They are potential brand ambassadors for the company and can help provide referrals for job opening.
A word of caution. Each separation is unique. In case an employee is fired or leaves on bad terms, a clean break would be most advisable course of action.
Growing number of organizations are increasingly seeing the benefits of a strong bond between employer and employee long after the two have parted. Deloitte calls them, “Colleagues for life.” Companies use terms like ‘boomerang employees’, ‘alumni’, or ‘comeback colleagues.’
Moreover, enterprises are increasingly viewing alumni experience as an integral part of the employment lifecycle. As per a survey by 2022 Corporate Alumni Benchmarking Report, 48% organizations are introducing alumni program during recruitment. The same goes up to 52% during onboarding. Also, more than 28% companies have been operating such programs for more than 10 years.
Also, this need not become an exercise designated for exit-interview phases. Companies need to actively engage in employee engagement all throughout the job cycle.
The farewell party is done. Responsibilities have been handed over. All paper works over. Now you are left to wonder, ‘are these good byes for the final time?’ Well, if you keep the bridges of trust and professionalism intact with transparent communication there is always a prospect of happy returns.
Employees tend to move out of companies due to couple of major reasons. Either the work environment is unhealthy or they perceive better opportunities outside of their current organization. In the latter case, it is never a one-way ticket. Such boomerang employees return to their old workplace after they find grass is not always greener on the other side.
A positive externality of companies showing alumni that they care, is boost in the morale of the present employees. Because this demonstrates that the employer cares about the people who worked for the business in the past. Consequently, remaining staff can be assured of the intentions and actions of the company. In an environment marked by increased lay-offs, this can provide a much-needed stability.
The Way Forward
In an increasingly uncertain business environment, employees are on the lookout for a steady and certain environment. This is where their former work pace and work colleagues come into picture. For businesses, ex-employees can be a source of brand ambassadors, potential clients, future business partners and ever-welcome rehire prospects. Returning employees can be more conducive to culture fit and readiness for the role. A clear communication line, supported by interest from both sides can help create a better working world.