Why You Need to Invest in Employees Who Leave Your Organizationby Alumni Content in Alumni Leaders Podcast | Last Edited: 03rd December 2020
Podcast Name: The Positive Leadership Movement Podcast
Episode: Ep. 41 – Why You Need To Invest In Employees Who Leave Your Organization
Air Date: 5th August 2020
Host: Alex Bratty, Founder of Happiness @ Work and The Positive Leadership Movement
Guest: James Sinclair, Chief Executive of EnterpriseAlumni
In this episode of The Positive Leadership Movement Podcast, James and Alex, a positive work culture expert, explore the concept of high-quality connections in the workplace.
When it comes to the people who leave your organization, both businesses and employees should be investing in maintaining and strengthening the relationships and connections they have formed. Happy customers come from happy employees. And how do we make employees happy? We ask them what job they are going to have when they leave us.
- Companies should be aiming to be a great place to work. Being good only means not being awful.
- Employee retention is a privilege that has to be earned by the business and not a right.
- Employee happiness equals business success and not the other way around.
- Businesses should consider their employee relationships as an investment for the longterm, even after they leave.
- Reconsider why employees leave – it’s not always because of bad managers. It can be for career growth, change in scenery, personal circumstances, etc. Embrace the transition and be ready to welcome them back in the future.
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Every leader knows that a thriving organization depends on the energy, productivity and commitment of its people. But few leaders are able to cultivate the employee engagement and performance needed for this level of success. What's the difference? What's the difference? Positive leadership practices. Welcome to the Positive Leadership Movement podcast, with your host, positive work culture expert, Alex Bratty. Ready to harness the power of positive leadership? Let's dive right in.
Alex Bratty (00:37):
Hello, and welcome to episode 41 of the Positive Leadership Movement podcast. I'm your host, Alex Bratty. I'm really excited about today's show because we're going to be talking about the power of connection. If you're a longtime listener, you'll know that we've discussed how important it is to cultivate high-quality connections in your life, and of course, in the workplace.
That's why I'm so thrilled to have James Sinclair with us today because his company is built on this exact premise, that's there's power in high-quality networks and connections. But it has a really interesting twist. He's suggesting that we should invest in connections even when we leave an organization or when others that work for us or work with us leave the organization. Are you intrigued? I sure am.
So, let me tell you a little bit about James, and then we'll jump into our conversation. James Sinclair is the Chief Executive and co-founder of EnterpriseAlumni, the market leading alumni and retiree engagement platform. Their software powers the corporate alumni networks of the world's largest companies, leveraging this vast, untapped pool of people for talent, sales, marketing, and community. He has a background in large enterprise innovation. Having worked for companies including IBM, SAP and EDS. Outside of his day job, he contributes to media on the future of work, large enterprise innovation and entrepreneurship. Welcome, James. It's so great to have you on the show.
James Sinclair (02:17):
Hey, thanks so much. You know what they say about episode 41? Always the best.
Alex Bratty (02:20):
That's right. That's right. We're going to break some records today because, really, I mean, what your company does and the service that you provide is... We were just talking about this before. We started recording it. It's so obvious, it's an obvious need, but so many people don't see the connection. So, I'm so thrilled to have you on. So, just to get it started because I always ask all guests the same question because, hey, it's the Positive Leadership Movement podcast. What does positive leadership mean to you, James?
James Sinclair (02:55):
So, I love that question. My answer has changed a little bit over the past few months, openly. Positive leadership is always about being great, have empathy, and all of those things. But one of the things that when we started the organization was always this methodology of happy customers solve everything. Everyone can agree with that. No one's going to turn their eyes. Actually what it is, is happy employees solve everything. Happy employees create happy customers, which solve everything.
It took me a moment to shift and recognize that because we are customer serving, we want to deliver everything to our customers. So, it makes sense, always invest your efforts with the people paying the bills, but actually more and more, especially, as we've all been working from home and have to learn how to interact with each other and how to change how we interact with each other. It's actually coming down to how do you make your people happy. How, as an organization, do you follow through with everything you stand for? It's not good enough to not be a shit company anymore. You don't have to be a great company. Can I give you an example? Sorry to give you the world's longest answer.
Alex Bratty (03:59):
No. I'm laughing because it is just so true. I love that you're being so completely candid and honest and telling it like it is. I love it. So, yes, please, share an example.
James Sinclair (04:10):
So, the example I would give you is, as an organization, I don't necessarily care, and I don't really ask about your visa status when we hire people. So, if you can imagine, when we hire, there's a lot of "Well, I'm on a green card. I'm on an H-1B. I'm on this." That's always a massive layer for people. I've never even contemplated that as a thing. I'm going to hire the best person, I'm going to invest whatever money I need to, and it's not even... I've never thought about it as a thing perhaps because I've been through it, individually. Obviously, I came here from United Kingdom.
I was speaking to one of our staff members recently. She explained that her last company, they were going through a lot of stuff. They were basically giving preference of who to sponsor and who not to sponsor based on arbitrary who we like to. She said, "I really like that you guys don't do that." She goes, "That makes me really happy to work here." I was like, "Well, that's not great. That's just not being awful."
Alex Bratty (05:02):
Right. Meritocracy that we're talking about there. Yeah.
James Sinclair (05:07):
So, I appreciate the feedback, and I appreciate the compliment, but actually it's not a compliment. It says that we are just not awful. How is that possibly the benchmark for what it means to be a great employer? So, everything we've really been driving around is how do we make happy employees? For us, that's about understanding where they're going to go when they leave us. One of the first questions I ask my interview candidates when they join the company is, "In two, three years, when you leave us, what job are you going to have?" Now, I have three years to earn you to stay. It's a privilege, not a right if you're going to stay with this organization. I think that's what my long answer to positive leadership means is recognizing someone's employment's a privilege.
Alex Bratty (05:48):
Yeah. I love it. You have multiple things to unpack there, and that whole notion of having happy employees. That's really the fundamental crux of why positive leadership and all the positive psychology that gets applied to the workplace, why it works, because like so much research shows that when your people are actually happy, and they experience positive emotions of their work, guess what? It actually broadens and builds their capability like they become better performers because they're happy. It used to be people who think as like success equals happiness. No, it's happiness equals success. It's like backwards.
So, what you're describing speaks volumes about that. But the other piece that I absolutely love is that you've turned the relationship on its head because so often, it's the employee that's like, "Oh, I got to give the right answer to this." I'm like, "Why is he asking me about where I'm going to go in three years? I have to say, 'Oh, I'm really committed to this company. I haven't even thought about that in the future.'" Everybody knows that, that's like whatever, especially these days when people are so capable of moving from place to place even if you're not doing it physically.
So, tell us more about this whole idea of focusing on what people are going to do when they leave. I know you say every leader in organization understands the value of their people until they leave. Your idea is, "Hey, we need to invest in people who are going to leave us." So, it's a little bit counterintuitive. You're a leader. So, unpack all that for us, James. Tell us the whole rationale behind what you do and how does it work.
James Sinclair (07:38):
So, I will, I will give it my best show. What I will tell you is this concept of the oldest hashtag of relationship for life until you leave is, generally, how most companies absolutely engage with you. "We're going to recruit you out of college, relationship alive. We love you. We're going to train you. But if you leave, well, you're dead to us." If you think about it from a very financial... So let's just forget the empathy and the human and the happiness component and go purely to a financial balance sheet, like rocks perspective, which is you invest millions of dollars in recruiting people, you invest even more millions of dollars or add or subtract to zero in retention and mental health and competency and training and programming and paper work and bullshit. Then they leave, and you're going to let that asset walk out your balance sheet.
There is no CFO on Earth, who would let you take the amount you just invested in that asset, and I'm using a specific word of not calling it a human and a person, let's just call it for what it is for phase one, which is, "I've invested in this asset. Why am I not continuing that investment?" They're going to continue to go on in life to get new skills, new network, new values. If you want to make it human, it's also the right thing to do. The great way to perspective is when you leave a job and you go to your next job. People are like, "Hey, where did you come from?" You're either going to say, "Oh, I came from this company, and I escaped." You, "I'm so happy to be here." Or you're going to say, "I was actually just at this company. They're amazing, great employee, but I'm really excited about this opportunity. Here's some things I learned along the way. Here's some ideas. I can reach back out to my old friend there."
People forget that, that is your employer brand right there. 10 seconds after you leave, someone is saying, "Hey, where were you before this?" Companies have a choice. I think the CHR of Starbucks basically said the best, which is "Every touchpoint you have with every human is how you would want to treat your best customer. Anything less than that, don't be bummed out when you don't have the experience you expect."
Alex Bratty (09:34):
Yeah. Absolutely. You're right, it's the right thing to do. But if you're going to strip it down and really make the business case for it, it's just so compelling because you're right, you invest so much money in the people that work for you between, as you said, the recruiting, the onboarding, the training, just over time, or you [crosstalk 00:09:58]. Obviously, they are giving, they're earning that money. Don't get me wrong. But then you're right, in one other way in your life, would you invest money like that, and then just allow it to walk away from you. In other assets we have, we would sell them, or we would rent them out, but we would find a way to somehow recoup our investment rather than let it walk away from us.
James Sinclair (10:25):
Imagine if companies had to put that line item on their balance sheet of how much they had to write off because they let people walk out the door without maintaining a relationship. The reason I think about it from a non-human, fuzzy empathy perspective is to build a business case, you have to start with the asset as an inventory because that's how business works, whether we like it or not, but it applies up and down the chain of command. We just spoke to a great guy. They basically are the largest trucking fleet in North America. The truckers, we just need them to drive from A to B. That's it. So, why would we invest in them?
Well, the reality is those people have a core skill, a value skill, how they think about the company, how they refer people to the company. This guy was explaining the attrition in trucking is 125% a year. I was like-
Alex Bratty (11:11):
James Sinclair (11:12):
Well, yes, that's exactly the response I gave. I added in some four-letter words in between the ooof! What does it mean and how do you motivate someone that sits in a truck from here to there? The answer is, "Well, show them the way out, show them how they get from trucking to owning trucks." It's very similar to what McDonald's do. McDonald's have a program of where do you want to be because a lot of people are flipping burgers or making chicken nuggets, and they want to be a franchisee, but the leap is so massive. Like, "How the hell am I ever going to own one of these?" It turns out there are a lot of franchisee owners the started by flipping burgers, but someone needs to show them the path. Part of that is also leaving, getting some skills outside of McDonald's, getting some skills in sales and marketing and development and all of these things, but still having your career goal in play.
Alex Bratty (11:58):
I love it. So, you really are looking a big picture here, right? So, let me play a little devil's advocate with you. Let's say I'm leading my organization. I have put a lot of time and effort and money into hiring the people I have, having them work for me. I feel like I've treated them great. I just don't want to watch them walk out the door. But when they do, I do feel like, "Okay, well, if you're going to go somewhere else and you go somewhere else," I take it personally then. So, what do you say to me when you're trying to educate me that on this like, "No, you need to see this differently and you need to invest in that person as they leave?" What does that look like if I invest in them as they leave? How can I rationalize that both from the balance sheet perspective that you mentioned and the human perspective?
James Sinclair (13:00):
Right. Well, there's a lot of answers, and I want to be... Feel free to cut me off at any point. I think the first thing is getting rid of this, I heard this conversation, "People don't leave companies, they leave bad managers." I'm sure that's true. I'm sure that most people will leave a company because they're going to go into a position they're not quite qualified for. The reason they didn't get that job in the company they currently work for is because they're not quite qualified for it. I don't mean not totally... What I mean is you go from this position to one level up. You might not actually be ready for that. That's why it doesn't exist. The other reason is that company doesn't have enough openings.
As I said, one of the people we hired when I said in a few years, she said, "I want a headcount." There is a good chance I'm not going to be able to deliver on that for her. We're just not a big enough organization with enough roles that have headcount. So, if she wants to leave because she wants headcount, that's nothing I can do about that except we show the best of luck because, again, that's what she wants. So, I think when we think about leaving, people leave for a lot of reasons including shitty managers, but also opportunity, whatever, change. Some people just get bored. I think, specifically now with the mobility of the workforce, that ability to be like, "You know what? I'd love to go work over there and see what it's like. I've got a friend over there who loves it."
This concept of I'm going to try it is now acceptable because you don't have one career for life. So, this concept of when they leave and maintaining relationship, I would tell you in retail or services, because they get promoted to customer. That's pretty the most important... You're promoting your employees to customers, and you cannot afford today to not have a customer brand. So, why would you possibly lose that customer?
The second is when you think about the fact that maybe they're going to come back in two, three, 10, 12 years. We have some really good data points to say about 20% of people that leave actually regret leaving. Now, you cannot go back to your manager the next week and be like "Hey, my bad. Can I come back and work for you?" As long as the company keeps the door open, maybe there is an opportunity to come back. If you think about any company out there, coming back to a company means it's quicker, it's faster, the cost of recruitment, the cost of onboarding, you know the bullshit, you know the skeletons, you're going to be more productive. Most of all, you stay generally two years longer. When you choose to return, knowing the skeletons and knowing the politics and knowing all that, you're making a very conscious decision to return. Therefore, you believe you can have impact.
So, alumni rehires, they say, are the number one source of hire. I think the data that I saw was, like, Microsoft, 15% of all employees are rehires. EY, at 17%. Citi is 12%. Citi, they believe there's an average savings of $75,000 when they rehire someone because they are quicker, they're faster, they get to production quicker, they stay longer, they're more impactful. These are real numbers. Again, forgetting any of the, it's the right thing to do conversations.
Alex Bratty (15:48):
Yeah. When you put it like that, it is really compelling. That's a significant chunk in those big companies, 12, 15, 17%, that's a significant number in terms of it's your alumni. I can actually personally relate to this, too. So, I used to be a partner in a research firm. One of the partner, I've since left obviously, but another partner left. He set up his own research firm, and guess who he hired? All alumni from the firm we were at. Why? Because he needed to hit the ground running. He needed people who knew what he does. He needed to just be able to service his customers right out of the gate.
The thought of actually trying to hire new unknown people, even if they had a depth of experience was almost too overwhelming for that situation. It was just like, "I need people who understand what I do, what this company does, and how we need to do it quickly as well." There really wasn't a whole lot of time to let me bring in this new person and train now." Yeah, of course, he-
James Sinclair (16:55):
Time, cost, resumes. You're exactly right. This concept of stranger recruiting, and you see a lot of tools out today to say, "Well, we could do analysis to work out if you're a good fit." No, you can't. The only way to work out if you're a good fit is to work with you. I tell people, I don't love it. You have to think about the same as dating. People are like, "Well, HR and dating." The reality is the first two months of dating someone, you have your resume face on. Then you get comfortable, you fall in love, you do all those things, and then they learn actually he's a bit of a slob, he leaves his chocolate wrappers on the nightstand. It's okay, it's okay. We accept it because we love him. I don't remember him doing that in the first 60 days of our relationship because he had his resume face on.
It's exactly the same with jobs. The resume only tells you so much, the interview only tells you so much, the cognitive testing only tells you so much. The reality is I work with you. This one conversation I know if I could work with you. Now, what you don't know is whether I deliver, what you don't know is how I execute. That's where there's kind of being able to go to my old manager and be like, "Hey, remember when James used to work for you? Any flags?" "Well, the flag is he's amazing. Well, the flag is he's amazing, but by the way I always put deadlines. He's really good around deadlines." Now, you know these kind of things that you wouldn't know otherwise. I think when companies think about an alumni program, there's no reason not to have this massive access to talent diversity. If I could give one more example. Sorry, I feel like all I've done is talk.
Alex Bratty (18:26):
James Sinclair (18:26):
Alex Bratty (18:26):
That's why you're on the show. We want to hear this, it's so enlightening.
James Sinclair (18:31):
We have a customer who has thousands of retirees in our platform. They've always viewed retirees as being two things. Number one, a little bit of a pain. Number two, all retirees say the same thing, "This company was built on our shoulders, they don't respect, they don't give us the time of day. I'm the reason." All of it's probably true. Again, we're not discounting or questioning that, but they haven't given the time to retirees because they're out of the workforce. What are they going to do?
Well, it turns out, there's two big things. They'd be reaching out to all the retirees recently and saying, "Hey, you retired in the last four years. Would you come back and work for us?" With a very specific statement is, "We're not looking for people to fill an Excel spreadsheets or manage projects. We don't have enough people in our company, who've been through a crisis and recovered from a crisis."
Alex Bratty (19:16):
So, almost like crisis mentoring, almost.
James Sinclair (19:19):
All of our senior leadership or... That's just not fair. A majority of our senior leadership was in management positions or lower during the last crisis and therefore, wasn't leading the company. All the people that were leading the company during 911, potentially, or some of these other global impact moments are now retired. They're old, all of them. Yes. Well, a, for two reasons. Number one, most of their pensions are aligned to these companies. They obviously want success. But second is recognition. Recognition because these are veterans of the company, 40-year careers of the company. The answers were overwhelming. Yes, I'd love to whatever you need, however you need it, whenever... None of them responded with how much. I imagine if someone said that to me, I might ask, like, "Yeah, absolutely. What are we talking about here?" "All the retirees." "Yes, because it's my duty, because that's their mindset." I thought that was a really good use case of a group of people that people often just, but actually are amazing.
Alex Bratty (20:17):
Right. They're just like a goldmine of resource, knowledge, everything. I love that. So, it's really about thinking about your alumni network and even your retiree network as well. It's almost like anybody who leaves for any reason.
James Sinclair (20:35):
Yeah. Why not?
Alex Bratty (20:36):
As long as it's on good terms. You fire someone, maybe not so much. If it's all on good terms, then why not be staying in touch with them.
James Sinclair (20:44):
Let's talk about firing someone. So, let's talk about restaurants. I won't name any names, but there's a massive restaurant brand, essentially, America's first employer. Their attrition comes from, basically, straight, not even in college, people coming out of high school coming to work there. A majority of the people that leave the company are what they call no call, no show. Just one day, they just don't turn up, they don't answer their phone, and they're gone. The answer is why?
The reason is usually, either they overslept or they found a different job, or they found... They have never been trained to phone their manager and to say, "Hey, I screwed up. I overslept. How can I make this up to you? How can I make this right? What would you like me to do?" By the way, all of us... Well, I don't say all of us. I've done ostrich head in the sand before in my life where like, I'm just going to hide and hope it blows... It never blows over, never blows over. But you learn that because someone teaches you or you learn that through negative experience.
But what he basically said is when someone no calls no shows, it's his responsibility to reach out to them and say, "It's okay. No problem," because he can't afford to lose that entire customer chain because the next time his mom or her mom says, "Hey, let's all go to this restaurant for dinner," that person's going to be like, "Don't go there. My manager works there, and I did a no call, no show."
He's like, "I can't afford to lose 30 people that might come here for a birthday. Also, I have to teach these people life skills, which is, it's okay to stand up and be like, 'I found a better job.' That's acceptable. Just tell us and tell us the impact, and we're going to say, 'That's amazing.' We might be pissed, we might have a tantrum. We might tell you, 'That's so unfair. You got to give two weeks notice.'" But ultimately, he said, "Where are employees today getting that experience," which has nothing to do with competencies, is to do with how to deal with business and how to deal with people.
This employer is a CHRO that I would say matches your concept of what is a positive culture. He believes it's his responsibility to teach, as the first employer that it's okay, it's okay to phone, that the head in the sand is not a strategy that will serve you well in your life, unfortunately.
Alex Bratty (22:46):
Right. Communication's a wonderful thing.
James Sinclair (22:51):
Amazing thing, right?
Alex Bratty (22:53):
Because, obviously, so many companies these days are going through difficult times. They've had to furlough, they've had to let people go. The pandemic, it just rolls on. There's ripple effects from it. There's all kinds of things. Some businesses might have experienced growth because of it, but a lot, a lot, a lot of them are faced with the really unpleasant task of telling employees, "We just can't do it. We just literally cannot stay alive as a business and keep you on right now." So, how does in that situation... Like right now, while we're dealing with this, and we will be for a while, it's going to take a while for the economy to really come back properly. How does what you do play into all of this?
They have to imagine that in that scenario, you really want to keep in touch with your alumni because you're being forced to let them go by an external event. It's not something that you decided or the employee decided. It's really an act of God, happened.
James Sinclair (24:02):
Yeah. It is an act of God [crosstalk 00:24:04].
Alex Bratty (24:03):
So, how does what you do play into all of that right now?
James Sinclair (24:08):
So, number one is I will tell you what separates the great companies from the good companies from the not so good companies. This is a real marker in the sand because how you treat people during this process, you cannot hide. You either treat them great because it's in your core values, or you don't. So, I think, look, we have seen a massive influx in retail, travel tourism, who are all firing thousands to tens of thousands of people, and need a place to put them, primarily, because exactly, as you say, you're not being asked to leave because of performance. We've heard from recruiters who are like, "I hired these people, and now I'm terminating them."
We heard one conversation, a major hotel brand, one of the largest in the US, in the world, rather. She was like, "I spent six months recruiting this human. She is incredible for this organization. I'm also the one to phone her to tell her that her services are no longer required here, and I now feel an obligation as an organization to make sure that we are providing her with every single resource on earth that we can to make this as pleasantly unpleasant, pleasant, as possible, if that makes sense. How can we make the best of it?"
I have a couple of amazing examples. One of our customers, who's in the travel business. They first furloughed thousands of people, then they had to terminate those people. They put them all into this platform. They basically said, "Right. What are these people need?" So, people earlier in their career, they need resume advice. The second thing was, "How can we potentially replace them at companies that are hiring? How can we make sure we're giving good references, so they don't have to ask for it? We're giving a letter that tells them, 'Here's your performance, here's everything you need.' How can we train them up on new competencies?"
I think the example that you and I talked about was, I joined a call that one of our customers did, where the CEO did a town hall with all of the alumni that had been terminated. He came on and basically just gave three things are important. Number one is, where are we because I think people recognize that as you go down the chain, maybe you don't have as much visibility on what's happening, what's our exit strategy, how long is it going to last. What does this look like for us because you just don't have that visibility. So, number one was the State of the Union kind of, "Here's where we are, here's what we're thinking. This is what we think recovery looks like." Just essentially gave data that not many of us had. He also sits on the Economic Council, so we had insider data that perhaps of all those people.
The second is he talked to people and said, "Look, this is awful, but we are now hiring for 10 new skills that didn't even exist for us three months ago." The way that I think he basically said it was, "Our 2030 transformation is now happening on Tuesday. Therefore, I need people skilled in digital media, digital video, video editing, things that you can learn. So, we're going to open up all of our learning and content management systems to all the people that we've just terminated until you go learn a new skill and come back to us, come back to us, earn more money and do all of these things." Most importantly, he was like, "Whatever we can do to help you, we will," in an open channel of conversation. I think I told you, I was fortunate to listen in. I was like, "Huh, that's a leader."
Alex Bratty (27:14):
That's a positive leader. Yeah.
James Sinclair (27:16):
That's a leader I want to work for. Very often, I don't know if you've had it, sometimes I come into contact with people, I'm like "Wow, I wish I could have worked with him earlier in my career because this guy's a legend be." You nailed it. I don't want to take your phrase, which this is a guy who has been authentic from day one, which is why he could deliver that on a speech because everyone bought in. I apologize for taking that line from you, but you are so right about that. It was so amazing. So, I'll pause there because I think that's such a cool example.
Alex Bratty (27:43):
Yeah. Amen. Hey, taking the line, it's so good because it's positive leadership. He demonstrated it so well in that example, but he also just didn't show up that day and do it. He has clearly cultivated a positive culture before this happened because otherwise, none of it would mean anything to people. If he had been ruling with the iron fist and everybody was miserable and whatever, and then he shows up, and he's like "Rah, rah, rah, we're going to help you," everybody would have been really skeptical and like, "What happened to this guy?" But clearly, he's been walking his talk. So, when he showed up, as you said, it was taken authentically.
So, I love that. So, that's where your company steps in and provides this platform where the organization can stay in touch with the employees and the employees likewise back. There's learning and things like that on the platform. How does that actual connection happen?
James Sinclair (28:53):
Yes, you nailed it. Thank you. I'll just going to let you do my sales pitches from now on. So, that was easy. But yes, essentially, you leave the company, you have to put people somewhere. You can't use the current HR system because there's data retention, data rights, different profiles, different data. So, they come in to EnterpriseAlumni, which is our company. The company will offer a variety of things, whether it's learning or training or jobs or opportunities to essentially say, "Hey, we're here if you need us." This is not coming every week and post photos of your vacation. This is, maybe you need access to your payslip, such a simple thing. I need access to a payslip, I need employment verification because I'm buying a house.
Normally, companies will have an email address with a black hole. All of this automated directly in our system. You got to realize that people need different things. People, early in their career, need a mentor, maybe need a discount, maybe need some learning. People more senior maybe want to be an advisor to a start-up or want to be a mentor or want to do other things. So, critically, about our platform is doing a really unique experience for people who are in different stages of their lifecycle, whatever that might mean, and making sure the company is basically saying, "We're here, whatever that might mean, we're here." You're just trying to get that passive recruit to be like, "Huh, I'm pretty happy where I am, but I would explore. I will tell you about 80% of all of our users tick a box and say, "I would return back to this organization." So, people want the number. 80% of the past employees, on average in aggregate, would return. When they return, they stay two years longer, and they stop 50% quicker.
Alex Bratty (30:21):
Wow, those are phenomenal numbers. I have to imagine that just the mere choice of an organization to plug itself into you guys and offer this amazing network to people who are leaving. That in and of itself has got to feel good to the departing employee because it's almost like there's a safety and security around that. It's like you've got a support system, almost, to hold you, hold your space and help you get to the next place that you want to be, or if you already had a place, you have this as like some backup system, almost.
James Sinclair (31:04):
Yeah. You never know. I don't know if they still do it, and I don't want to misspeak, but one of our customers, when you leave and go into a certain job grade, three weeks later, you get an edible arrangement, saying, "Hey, good luck. We hope you're doing amazing. We will miss you here and love you. If there's anything we can do, let us know." Can you imagine being in a new job and your old manager... Now, don't get me wrong, it's automated, it's not like the actual manager sit there and write a note. It doesn't matter. The point is, can you imagine being-
Alex Bratty (31:31):
It's being done. Yeah.
James Sinclair (31:32):
Yeah. Can you imagine? Whereas we have other companies that will say, "Here's a discount for life." Like Targets give 7% discount to alumni. 7%, I don't know about you, but I got to Target for a light bulb and I walk out $300 later, asking myself, "What the hell just happened?"
Alex Bratty (31:46):
7% matters at Target.
James Sinclair (31:49):
7%, all of a sudden, is real numbers, if anyone shops at Target like I do by mistake. So, it's just that concept of staying in touch. Why wouldn't you? There's literally no harm. The best example I have recently is one of our customers is part of this conversation around not doing ad spending on Instagram and Facebook, around waiting for them to make some changes to how they manage content or speech on the platform. They said, "Hey, why can't we ask our alumni to, potentially, like this content or share this thought leadership?" So, they sent out an email with a link to a LinkedIn post, another linked to an Instagram post and said, "Hey, if you get a chance, we would love you to like or share." Overwhelming volume of people that literally not only liked it, but also shared it. Immediately, it was like, "We get better engagement of this than we've ever got out of our ad spend. Thousands of people that know us are liking or sharing or add comment versus random strangers that we've never heard of liking our stuff and not doing anything."
So, there's so many different business cases to be made, but the biggest business case is it's actually the right thing to do. You won't be a great leader. A great leader means you're with someone for their entire career. You're either with them or you're not. That's a choice you have to make as an organization.
Alex Bratty (32:59):
I love that. You've said that a few times. It's like one of the core elements to being a positive leader is being virtuous, doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. We've talked about that a lot on the show, especially, since COVID-19 hit us hard, and all these companies who are dealing with it. I mean, as you said, it really has the rubber met the road in terms of [inaudible 00:33:27] out who really has been a positive leader and a great company to work with and who has not, and who's getting it right these days.
So, this is a fabulous conversation. I could talk to you all day, but I'm going to give you one last question. Then of course, I want you to share how people can get in touch with you because you have so much to offer here. But you said to me, how you leave a job should be as amazing as how you join, which again is another counterintuitive. So, tell us what is that experience of the employee leaving. How do you make that amazing? Obviously, it's connected to them being plugged into you and joining your network, but what does that feel like, if I'm leaving my company, and it's amazing as when I joined? Paint the picture, what does that look like?
James Sinclair (34:22):
So, I think it's just more than your colleagues getting you cupcakes in a balloon.
Alex Bratty (34:28):
James Sinclair (34:28):
I think that's where it started. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for cupcakes. I don't want to remove that concept. I'm a massive fan of those. But it's just organizationally saying how do we keep the door open, that we wish you luck. I think the way that I love is one of our customers said, "The reason you're getting your next job is because of us, not in spite of us. Why can't we take credit? Hey, Alex is going to this next role, which is more senior at this amazing organization because of the amazing company we are." Obviously, mind blowing a little bit, but she was exactly right. That's absolutely true. That's what it means is, why can't it be positive? Congratulations. Good luck. Go do amazing, go change the world, go do whatever it is you want. We are always going to be here to support you because you're always going to be an advocate, a brand leader, a referral source, whether we like it or not. The question is whether you're going to be a positive referral source or a negative one. You're there. We can't control whether or not, when people say, "Where did you work?" They're my intro. "I worked at IBM. I worked at DDS. I can't get rid of it." The question is, "Am I going to smile when I say the words or am I going to say 'I escaped?'"
I think companies no longer have a choice. You have a more mobile workforce that is going to stay in their jobs based on high-performing teams, two, three years and then move. You've just got to accept it's coming, and has already arrived. But actually it's not coming. So, that's what I mean by leaving as good as you join is why wouldn't you.
Alex Bratty (35:48):
Yeah. No, I absolutely love it. You've really opened up a whole different way of looking at that part of the process of being a leader. People are going to leave for whatever reason. As a leader, you have to determine how you're going to deal with that. Thinking about it in terms of, hey, these employees that are your employees right now, they're going to leave, and they're going to have things to say about the company. They might even become your customers. That really does matter.
I'll give a personal example. When myself and a couple other partners left the firm that we were at, each of us had a different outlook on how we talked about that company after we left because of how our exits were handled. Those exits were handled differently based on how the company decided to view each of us. One partner he went and set up another research shop like indirect competition, but not really because hey, it ain't just one piece of pizza. You can grow the pie, but that's how the company looked at it was, "You're going out in direct competition to us. So guess what? You've been here for 17 years, but you now, as of this day, you're dead to us. We're going to chase every single client and try to get them." How many clients did they get from him? None. Why? Because it never was direct competition. Those people were always working with him, not the company.
Now me, I still do research, but I didn't go out and set up another organization that what they thought did exactly what they did. I moved and shifted what I was doing. So, what happened, loves and kisses. We've been in great contact ever since. I consult for them sometimes. It was handled completely different because of the way they chose to view it. Then, we then talk about that company that we left in very different ways because of our very different experiences. I have first-hand experience-
James Sinclair (35:48):
You can relate.
Alex Bratty (37:56):
... on some of the things that you're describing here today. Yeah.
James Sinclair (37:59):
It's crazy, and it doesn't take much. I think when people think about, "Oh, invest in Alumni platform, it's not that much. It's just takes moving your view one degree." I think when people think about exits, "Why are they leaving?" No, amazing. He or she's going off to do their own thing because you've empowered them to. Now, if you want to ask that person, where they saw the white space, that might be an interesting question, "Hey, what made you think that actually there was a space for you in the market? Can we support that?" I've seen companies that when you leave, that company is your first investor. I've got a friend of mine who left Salesforce, part of the incubator, and the company he set up is a little bit in competition with Salesforce. Salesforce said, "Okay, no problem, amazing." [inaudible 00:38:41] some cash. I can't think of anything more amazing.
Now, don't get me wrong, that's not the everyday story. But there's no reason for it to be a negative. All comes round eventually. I think people that have been in the workforce for long enough know that whether you want to call it karma or reality doesn't matter. It all comes round eventually.
Alex Bratty (38:58):
It does, it does. James, thank you so much for being on the show today. You have shared eye-opening, mind boggling, just making us think in new and just broader ways, really opening our minds to thinking about this whole exit process in a different way. So, I know that our listeners are going to want more of you and want to know more about what you do, so how can they get in touch with you? Tell us how they can connect with you further.
James Sinclair (39:28):
Can I do a plug, Alex? Is that allowed?
Alex Bratty (39:29):
Yes, absolutely. Of course. Go for it.
James Sinclair (39:32):
I asked your permission because it's important. So the first plug is, I know not everyone is going to go from this conversation to buying a platform, and to buying from us. The biggest thing is I'm in all the internet. You can reach out, you can contact me. I'll have this conversation with as many people who want to have it, who want to have an authentic conversation about how they treat or think about their levers. I know everyone's going to be different. So, James Sinclair, all over the internet. I pretty much respond to most of them.
The second is my company, EnterpriseAlumni, enterprisealumni.com. We would love to show you what we're doing for some other customers. But most important, I'm just excited to have the conversation. Hopefully, one of your listeners, this has just piqued enough of the interest to be like, "Ha, maybe there's something we could be doing different or better," one company at a time.
Alex Bratty (40:19):
Yeah, I love it. I love the plug. It's fantastic because what you're doing is providing so much value. So, I don't even consider that a plug. It's like you're doing people a service by sharing that. I will just add, because I am a nerd, and I love data, I know not everybody does and you shared a lot of wonderful stories today, which usually are much more connected for people. But if you're listening to this, and you're a data person, James also has some really compelling data and numbers on his website in terms of the impact of this. He dropped some of that today, too, in our conversation. But there's a really compelling economic argument for what he does, and how it can serve your company. So, be sure to go, enterprisealumni.com and check them out, check out what he's got to offer.
All right. Okay. Well, that's it for this week. Thank you so much for joining us for another episode of the Positive Leadership Movement. If you have positive leadership stories you want to share or if you have questions on this week's topic, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That includes me connecting you with James in case you listened to this and forget the website and everything. Send me the email, I will connect you. I always love to hear from you for whatever reason. As always, I want to thank you for being part of the Positive Leadership Movement and inspiring me to do what I do every single day.
Make sure you subscribe to the show. If you liked this episode, please rate and review. If you want to get more from Alex, check out Happiness at Work, where she provides leaders with a proven path to cultivate a positive work culture that increases performance, productivity and profitability. Go to happinessatworknow.com. Join us next week and harness the power of positive leadership for your organization.
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