When an employee tenders their resignation and makes their announcement to the world that they are leaving your organization, companies don’t often see this as an Opportunity presented. What I mean is that when your employee gives their notice, the trollers, the shit stirrers, and the negative Nancy’s come out of the woodwork directing their time, energy, and effort to the soon to be ex-employee. Because when most people resign from a company, there’s a reason, and these nay sayers can commiserate, share stories, and share the love or hate of said organization with one another.
I first experienced this phenomenon myself as an when I resigned from a position as HR Manager because I needed to relocate. As word spread across my office that I was leaving, more people than ever before casually stopped by. People made an effort to say hi, ask questions, and share with me their real feelings and opinions about the company, the management, and their grievances – all without holding back.
When an employee makes the decision to leave an organization, the company has an opportunity to turn what people often see as a negative into a positive especially if the employee’s move, relocation, or job change isn’t the usual suspect. And by usual suspects I mean bad managers, too little pay, or just plain angry reasons. Companies can capitalize on this positive exit and continue to foster a relationship by leveraging this happy group of alumni employees.
The idea is that happy employees have happy friends and those friends might be the right person or persons to work within your organization maybe now, 8 months or three years from now. Let your former employees better your brand. Facilitating this relationship can be accomplished several different ways:
- Newsletter. You can continue to keep in touch with those happy ex-employees using a paper newsletter or email format. This means talking to them about more than the company picnic and focusing on topics, news, and information that they might be interested in hearing about. And to find out what exactly that is, it means that you ask them directly using a survey, questionnaire, or just a phone call for instant feedback. HP has a great employee alumni community on the internet.
- Alumni Reunion. Sometimes I wonder what happened to my friends at past organizations where I worked, and I’d like to touch base. Alumni reunions offer a unique opportunity to reunite old friends and co-workers that sends a message about how you care about current as well as former employees. Events like this allow for increased networking opportunities, employee referral conversations, and just plain fun which are all good things to have both at work and in life.
- Online Alumni Groups. Facebook and LinkedIn 0ffer great online opportunities to continue to build relationships with past employees being available to answer common HR questions like “Where’s my W-2?” or “How long does COBRA Insurance last?”
By providing a platform to answer questions and concerns you are continuing to add value, build brand, and keep the likelihood that employees and ex-employees will file complaints with government entities like the DOL, NLRB, or EEOC. Job-Hunt.org has a comprehensive list of online alumni group networks for employer examples.
Employees – both current and former – offer the unique opportunity to continue branding, building relationships, and promoting your company. Good referrals matter. When an employee leaves an organization, companies are presented with an opportunity. The benefits of alumni networking relationships promote your company – helping to fill open positions and bring in new top notch professionals – long after employees depart the organization.
Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a HR consultant, new media strategist, and author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. Jessica is the host of Job Search Secrets, an internet television show for job seekers.
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