Do you want to know an often-overlooked difference between top performing companies and the rest of the field? They not only treat their current employees well, but they also look after their former employees. That is right, former employees can be valuable to an organization. More and more companies are waking up to this fact as well and realising the value of keeping the bond between employer and employee strong well beyond their time in the organization. Ex-employees can be an incredible source of new business, brand ambassadors, business partners and new hires.

Brand Ambassadors

Do you remember the old days when an employee said they were quitting? They would either be marched off the premises then and put on “gardening leave” to serve their notice, or if they did remain in the office, they were quietly ignored until they left. How times have changed as the rise of employee experience and the value of positive experiences have taken hold. The employers that are winning at employee experience are looking at the whole employee experience, this doesn’t mean just looking at making sure they are engaged when they join, it means making sure they are also well treated while they are leaving.

There is an old May Angelou quote that says people will forget what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Now imagine you are an employee who has worked for a company for 10 years and you resign, and the company shows you no appreciation. How are you going to feel about the organisation? This is what has led to the prevalence of websites such as Glassdoor, it is allowing employees to express their feelings about an employer. When people leave a review, it is often an emotional decision. Now imagine if that same employee received a personal note from the CEO thanking them for their 10 years with the company and they received gifts and a party on their last day. How is the employee going to feel about the company to others in the industry when asked about their experience working there?

New business

Microsoft have done a lot of research on employees that leave their company. They have not surprisingly discovered that employees who feel appreciated as the exit will not only remain fans of the brand but will continue to use the company’s products and recommend them to others. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that given these findings that the Microsoft Alumni network encompasses over 35,000 former employees spanning 50 countries. Deloitte has also long had in place an immense Alumni network, which has over 300,000 members. Deloitte realised in 2000, that not all its employees were going to competitors. A number of their employees were going to join clients or potential clients. Therefore, it was a commercial decision to build the Deloitte Alumni Network. If their employees enjoy working for them and stay connected with the brand, they are more likely to buy services or recommend services from that brand in future.

Recruitment

The final benefit to an alumni network is that it makes recruiting a lot easier. Deloitte hire roughly 3000 employees a year from their Alumni network. That is 3000 former employees who enjoyed and trusted the organisation so much they decided to return. But recruitment goes far beyond just hiring what have been termed “boomerang” employees. It also taps into the power of networking and referrals. The true strength of recruiting via Alumni networks is that everyone knows at least one person that is looking for a new job. So, in Deloitte’s case, that could be circa 300,000 potential employees referred to the organisation every year. Hugely valuable in the middle of a global talent shortage!