From employee to alumni: the end of an employment relationship is just the beginning of another

Juan Luis Polo

20 April 2017

170420 wp rt alumni 2

Alumni: a former member of a group, company, or organisation.

Among all the stages in the relationship between employees and employers, perhaps one of the least discussed issues is the moment when the employment relationship ends.

The departure of an employee can be a traumatic experience for one or both sides: whether determined by the business or a worker who decides to leave. Most of the time, this is considered as the end of a relationship. But this needn’t be the case.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that many companies cut all ties with their former employees. However, this could be an unfortunate mistake. With the exception of extreme cases, the variability of current working and personal conditions means that for many people the change of employment for personal (family life, etc.) or professional reasons (end of a learning stage, search for new professional horizons, etc.) is inevitable.

The reality of today and the cultural transformation of our societies, reduces the average stay in a company. Therefore, we must assume that a high turnover is always guaranteed in our business

Another element to consider is that we will always need talent to address the challenges ahead. Anyone who has left a positive impression and legacy on the company is clearly an asset that must not be forgotten.

Why maintain links?

There are many advantages in maintaining contact with the people who have previously worked for the company:

  • They are potential customers. When someone leaves a service company, they are likely to enter an organisation capable of becoming a client or customer. This point is well known by consulting firms, many of which have been promoting alumni programs to keep them close and attended for many years.
  • Reinstatement. Someone who has been a part of our company and left due to circumstances that may have changed, is a potential candidate to be re-hired. There are many advantages to rehiring: you know what their weak and strong points are and they knows yours, eliminating the uncertainty that can come with a new addition to the team. Not to mention that after working with other business, they will also return with new skills and perspectives.
  • Providers of intellectual capital. Former employees may go on to work with interesting new businesses and technology, making them a valuable resource for new ideas. Opportunities to consult with them about news or trends will be a breath of fresh air for our company and for themselves.
  • Brand ambassadors. People who speak well of their former companies become great brand ambassadors. They can influence the hiring of products and services of their former company and can encourage other people to come and work in their former company.

#LCM: the formula to avoid falling into oblivion

After reading this you may have begun to think that all this is easy to write, but difficult in practice. But the truth is that not only is easy to say: you can also implement these ideas with great results.

How do we do it? There is no perfect formula but it’s worth starting with the most basic model: #LCM. What is #LCM? After many years of experience, this acronym summarises my “particular” way of understanding how an employment relationship is founded on the basis of three pillars:

  • Love. If there is a something that all HR departments are talking about it is “Employer Brand”. All kinds of companies are finding that attracting talent is linked not only to salaries, but to the emotional aspects of working within a business: existence of hierarchies, intrapreneurs, environmental commitment, alignment of board with vision of the company, training programs, etc. Everything counts for your brand to be loved or not as an employer.
  • Coexist. Just like any other relationship, you have to work everyday, resolve conflicts, find consensus, exercise transparency and so on. This stage is based on a corporate culture that not only cites values but is able to deliver on everything they promise: company culture, contact time, training, assessments, feedback, autonomy etc. It’s time for your company to become a “Great Place To Work”.
  • Miss. Only if a healthy coexistence has been maintained (aside from the difficult moments that often arise in a group), you can successfully address the phase that directly impacts alumni status: nostalgia. A person can leave for many reasons, but if they carry with them what they have learned in the company and leave with a personal relationship based on transparency, honesty and mutual respect, they will always feel linked and grateful to that company.

The next step is to launch a network of alumni, a community to maintain contact and share knowledge. We also make an effort to plan meetings and share time with those who remain in the company. Fortunately, technology makes it easy to maintain contact through multiple channels, from a community developed ad-hoc, to customised social networks. There aren’t many valid excuses for inaction in this case.

One final warning. None of this will be possible if we do not follow a simple and effective rule: Treat people as you’d like them to treat the company, their peers and your brand when they move on to something new.

What are you waiting for? Start reconnecting with your former colleagues now.