For companies establishing or enhancing their existing corporate Alumni platform, how they handle their ‘regrettable losses,’ defined as the loss of good people, is an important starting point.
A customer recently told us that when a regrettable loss leaves they “wish them the best of luck with their off-site training, and look forward to their swift return”. This positive approach to leaving, recognizing the inevitable, creates a culture where leaving and returning are supported.
There is significant research on the topic, notably focused on the need to develop a strong exit interview and post-departure follow up program to ensure a continued relationship with between the regrettable loss and the company.
From Harvard Business Review:
A recent Harvard Business Review Article, although focused on career breaks, provides relevant insight:
To make the most of an exit interview with a high performing employee who is leaving to go on career break, the following elements should be included:
- An express statement that the employer would like to speak with the employee first if and when the employee is thinking about returning to work.
- Documentation of the employee’s successful performance at the time of exit.
- Assignment of an alumni relationship contact.
- Access to employer continuing education resources so the alum can keep up with developments in the field while on career break.
- An optional volunteer role in the employer alumni organization, if one exists, such as collecting alumni notes that report on what other alums are doing, similar to university alumni notes.
- Access to an “on call,” paid alumni consulting pool to cover parental leaves, special short term projects, and other on-demand work opportunities.
- Periodic social events or other opportunities to come into the office and engage with current employees, their managers, and peers who remained with the organization.
- Opportunity to mentor current employees wrestling with career-break decisions.
Let Your High Performers Leave!
There is, however, another somewhat radical school of thought; That a high performer leaving your organization can provide more value outside your company than within it.
This fascinating Wall Street Journal article captures the concept and shares how the alumni network has a powerful effect:
When a stream of top performers go on to better things, it usually hastens the flow of more top talent into the company.
Whichever practice on regrettable losses resonates most, there is one thing both approaches have in common: Ensuring there is a continued relationship between the former employee and employer; providing a clear path to re-enter and stay involved with the organization – and potentially drive talent and sales opportunities.
Stay Connected With Leavers:
One fact remains constant: Top talent will at some point leave. Re-considering the perceived implication and outcome of this inevitability, making the departure a positive one (where appropriate) and maintaining strong connections because one thing’s for sure: it’s to everyone’s advantage to stay connected to your regrettable losses.