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Should you try to keep former employees involved in your culture?

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Question: "I've been given an interesting assignment—my boss wants to start an 'alumni club' for ex-employees as part of a program to improve our office culture. His idea is that the club will make everyone seem more like a part of a family, and be useful in keeping contact with people who might again be valuable. To me, this seems like a lot of effort for little payoff when management is busy trying to keep everyone here happy so they won't leave. What do you think?” – Sinead, Client Services Assistant

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Janette December 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I was an employment Coordinator so hiring and firing was my job. I do not think employees should be rehired even if they left on good terms. If they left you once there is a very good chance they will leave you again. Every time a person is hired and then leaves even if they have good knowledge it costs the company money anywhere from $300 up into the thousands of dollars to replace that person. If people come back it is usually because they are not making it in the new job or getting along well and the first company is a fall back. I do however feel that retired employees is an excellent idea as you keep them as an open employee and call them as needed. They also could bring new or better information to any new employees in the company.

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Anita December 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I imagine it would depend on who is considered to join this club. Personally, I thought it an odd idea because people move on for a reason (or reasons). Retirees may present a different situation because they may be available on and off as needed. Some employees at my current company have returned because opportunities did not pan out as planned but this only means once a better opportunity arises, they will leave again. I believe a better use of time and resources should be spent on employee retention.

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Gary Sonnenfeld December 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I would say this is a good idea if only for one reason: it seems every time someone leaves our company, the managers’ first thoughts are, “Do you think X (who quit two years before) might want to come back to fill the job?” Circumstances and attitudes toward a job and a company change over time, and there’s every chance that an ex-employee will want to come back for a fresh start. So much time is saved when an ex-employee says yes!

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Mark December 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

So true, Gary. About 20% of our current staff are employees who came back, realizing the grass isn’t greener on the other side. This year we had an employee off on a short-term medical leave, and we asked back a former employee to cover for her on a temporary basis.

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Patti December 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I would assume that your boss only wants ex-employees who retired or left on good terms. Then for those who are not included, everyone would know they were fired or are otherwise not worthy of rehire. I don’t think that sends a good message to anyone – current or past employees. And not knowing Labor Laws, could that pose a legal issue for the company? I don’t think this idea is feasible or advisable.

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Mark December 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm

The company where I worked did this, and it lasted for at least a couple decades. It was for retiree’s only, though, not for people who quit and went off to other jobs. It was done so that current employees could see that they really were valued, since the company tried to keep in close contact long after retirement. They would meet for a luncheon twice a year, and someone from management was there to update the retirees on the current status of the company.

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Beverly December 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm

At first I didn’t think this would be valuable time spent. However, if you include retirees, this might work out. Those people might be looking for something to do not having a lot of involvement. I don’t think others would be interested in coming back when they have already moved on. Good luck

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Ahmad Shaeab December 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I think it is a good idea, especially if the former employees had remarkable good effects on the organization & it’s business, or in case they had contributed to the organization foundation in the first place. If so, I believe they would help to deliver the vision, experience, and motivation for the new generation. If you organize the club activities and manage them properly I think you shouldn’t have any concerns about the expenditures and so the payoff.

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Kim December 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

If the boss is busy trying to keep people from leaving it makes me wonder if there is a good reason why people are leaving. If that’s the case, do you really want your former employees (who very well may be happier) talking to your folks who might be considering leaving? If your people are ‘moving up’ it could be a good mentoring opprotunity however.

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DeeCee December 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I think it’s another way to make more work with no real value or return on investment of time & money. It sounds like one of those projects that eventually just dies and goes away because of lack of interest or involvement. I hate to sound pessimistic, but I’m just trying to give you an honest opinion. Think about it…if you are an ex-employee, how much interest would you have in something like that? Most people are already too busy in their lives.
But perhaps others see it differently and can give you another perspective that hasn’t occurred to me. At the very least, you can contact several ex-employees and get their thoughts on it before making a commitment to it.

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