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Former employees can wield a great deal of influence on your company’s current success and future growth. Happy ex-employees can positively represent the company and its culture to the outside world. However, an unhappy former employee can malign your company to current employees, potential hires, investors and customers. When hiring, 70% of job candidates look to company reviews before they make career decisions. Many of those company reviews are written by former employees. This means that an enthusiastic former employee can encourage potential talent to consider your company, but a negative ex-employee can scare away good talent and give customers a poor view of the company. This can affect your capability to attract and engage potential new hires and to retain current staff. In light of this, it is vital that you maintain goodwill with your departing employees.

Whether the employee separation is voluntary or involuntary, your company needs to have good offboarding practices and policies in place, to ensure that departing employees have a smooth and positive transition experience. In the case of voluntary separations, employees may leave the company due to professional or personal motives, including retirement, career or educational advancement, relocation or changes to family dynamics. Employees who experienced goodwill with their ex-employers are a great source of business insight and industry knowledge for their past employer. Here are five ways you can increase the goodwill experienced by ex-employees.

1. Let the employee know that they are valued. Once an employee announces their resignation, ensure that efforts are made to retain them by offering valuable inducements to stay. For example, is telecommuting or schedule flexibility available for a new parent? Giving the employee a chance to communicate their reasons for wanting to leave and finding ways to meet their need, may be the first step towards retaining great talent and increasing employee satisfaction.

  1. 2. Let the employee know that they will be missed.
  2. Once an employee has confirmed their decision to leave, ensure that their time with the company ends on a positive note. Small touches such as a farewell gift or a personal letter from the leadership team, can mean a great deal. Encourage managers to organize a farewell lunch where coworkers can say goodbye. This can go a long way towards giving the employee a positive exit experience.
  3. 3. Have a solid employee exit interview and process.
  4. "When an employee quits they are sensitive to how they were treated when they left the organization.” states Raghuram. And according to Harvard Business Review’s Cem Sertoglu and Anne Berkowitch, “Effective alumni relationships are seeded at the moment of departure, when HR executives communicate the benefits of staying in touch and capture valuable information, such as the reasons for leaving, views about the company, future plans and aspirations, and, most important, contact information.” A meeting with the employee, their manager and a human resources representative should occur prior to or on the final day of work. During the meeting, confirm that the employee understands all final wage arrangements and benefits, and has a chance to ask questions. This can also be a time to discuss their final thoughts about the company. Make every effort to keep the exit interview positive and factual.
  1. 4. Establish a company alumni web portal or networking group.
  2. By extending the relationship between the ex-employee and the company past the separation phase, you can maintain a qualified talent pool, drive rehires and build brand advocacy. According to the 2018 Corporate Alumni Survey by Enterprise Alumni, ex-employees can be a valuable resource to your company as mentors of your new and rising talent. These goodwill ambassadors have direct experience and can offer your current employees the freedom to develop genuine and lasting business relationships. Companies like Deloitte and Mckinsey and Company offer their alumni a chance to stay in touch with former colleagues, highlight alumni successes, obtain career resources and significant perks and discounts.

5. Encourage boomerang employees.

Ex-employees may also come back to you in the future, a term known as “boomerang talent.” They can bring even more value in experience, new skills and a larger network for future talent. Boomerang employees may not need as much training and can get up to speed more quickly than a fresh hire. Because they know the company and have relationships with co-workers and former managers, they are an easy fit with the company’s culture. Make it easy for ex-employees to apply to open positions, and to sign up for notifications of changes within your company’s structure, such as retirements and promotions. They may find a new niche that fits any new skills or experience which were acquired during their time away.

Whether an employee is leaving on their own terms or due to an involuntary termination, it is important to take the time necessary to ensure that their exit happens in a positive, respectful and professional manner.

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