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It’s no secret that employee tenures have gotten shorter; the average stay in 2014 was about four and a half years.  Employees are much more likely to leave your organization versus stay many years until retirement.

Even though an employee might be gone – s/he shouldn’t be forgotten.  Each former employee can continue to be a valuable asset to your organization.  Consider the model of how universities cultivate strong alumni groups; long after attending school, many remain fiercely loyal and are amazing ambassadors for an alma mater.  I often say I “bleed green” for my Michigan State University!  (Go Green, Go White, Go State!!)

If employers start to think in a similar way, “companies can use alumni to get referrals, client business and input on issues that only someone who has been on the inside can understand. And former workers can get advice and job leads out of the bargain,” writes Susan Milligan in the June issue of HR Magazine.  It’s a win-win situation.

A powerful alumni group begins with the employee’s experience at work– alumni networks can only happen if employees have a positive experience with your organization.

Then, consider what ways make the most sense for engaging with employees who exit.  Can you host alumni events?  Create a LinkedIn group and share resources?  Send out a company newsletter?   Incentivize referrals? Alumni engagement can happen in a lot of different ways.

At an exit interview, share what options are available for connecting, encourage employees to give feedback about your organization on employer review sites like Glassdoor.com, and keep in contact with everyone – you never know who may return in the future, who may refer your next top employee, or who may bring in a piece of key business.

How do you keep in touch with former employees?

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Director of Client Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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