When top talent leave for better opportunities, it’s a tough pill for any employer to swallow. They wish them the best, watch them leave, and that’s it — they’re gone.
But they don’t have to be gone forever. A new survey conducted by Workplace Trends found that more and more organizations are welcoming back former employees. In the survey of 1,800 U.S. HR professionals published in September, 76 percent said they are more accepting of hiring so-called “boomerang employees” today than in the past. What’s more, two-thirds of managers are welcoming back former colleagues with open arms.
Engagement with former high-performing employees should not end when the work relationship is over — since organizations receive many benefits from hiring boomerang employees. Yet, 80 percent of employees say former employers do not have a strategy in place to encourage them to return, with 64 percent saying there appears to be no strategy for maintaining a relationship.
HR can and should maintain relationships with departing employees. Use these tips to stay on good terms with former high performers and entice them to return:
1. Tell them they’re welcome back.
Open the door for employees to return by telling them they are welcome to come back. Telling employees they have the option is a simple way to plant the idea of returning by letting them know their work is valued. Employees who feel valued are more likely to come back.
A 2014 survey of more than 1,500 U.S. professionals conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 92 percent of respondents who felt valued by their employer said they were satisfied with their job, compared with just 29 percent of those who did not feel valued at work.
Feeling valued is critical to job satisfaction, but a survey conducted by TinyPulse in 2014 found most employees don’t feel like their work matters. In the survey of more than 200,000 employees, 79 percent said they didn’t feel valued at work.
Telling employees that the organization would be happy to have them back shows them their work is highly valued by the employer. If professionals feel important to their team and organization, they are more likely to want to work where they feel valued again in the future.
2. Keep in touch on social media.
Employees already know what it’s like to work for the organization they’re leaving — but they don’t know what to expect from other employers. This is a huge advantage.
In a survey of more than 10,000 professionals who recently changed jobs, published by LinkedIn in August, 49 percent of respondents said the biggest obstacle in the job search is not knowing what working for an organization is actually like.
Remind employees about the company culture and their workplace relationships by keeping in touch with them on social media. Commenting on pictures, liking posts and chatting about their new job and more personal topics will maintain the relationship the employer has already built with the professional. That’s important to bring employees back on board.
After all, 36 percent of U.S. and Canadian employees surveyed by Virgin Pulse this year said they wish their employer cared more about their emotional health. In addition, 19 percent said they want their employers to care about their social well-being.
Keeping up with former employees on social media not only helps to build a stronger relationship, but also it helps to build trust and transparency. And only about half of employees surveyed by the APA think their employer is open and upfront with them. Use social media to create more open and personal relationships with departing professionals.
For example, use apps like Bond to set reminders when to connect with former employees on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms.
3. Write a great reference.
Employee recognition goes a long way, and appreciating work when employees are walking out the door will encourage them to come back in the future.
In a 2014 survey of more than 3,000 professionals published by CareerBuilder, 79 percent said they had no intention of leaving their current job that year. Among these loyal employees, 32 percent said they wanted to stay with their employer because they had a good boss who watches out for them, and 29 percent said they planned to stay because their accomplishments are recognized.
Employees want their managers to recognize and appreciate their hard work and achievements. Show departing professionals their work was not unnoticed by writing a stellar reference letter or LinkedIn recommendation. If top employees leave without a recommendation, don’t expect them to come back.
4. Offer more.
Professionals switch jobs to move up in their careers, not to stay stagnant. To bring employees back on board, offer them more.
More may mean a better position and a clearer view of how they can advance and grow in the organization. The LinkedIn survey found that the top reason employees leave companies is a lack of advancement opportunities, and the number one reason they join companies is for a better career path and more opportunities.
Boomerang employees act in similar ways. When employees were asked for the top reason they would go back to work for a former employer if pay was comparable in the Workplace Trends survey, employee benefits and better career path tied for the number one response.
With a better position, employees also expect a better salary. In the LinkedIn survey, 74 percent of employees said they got more money when they switched to a new job.
Offer desirable employees more than what they had — and more than what they have with their current employer — to bring them back.
Writer: Heather R. Huhman