The One That Got Away

By September 12, 2014 No Comments

By: Maurice Gilbert

fishAttrition: it’s an unfortunate yet necessary part of the HR professional’s world.  Now, it’s not such a shame when the underperformers walk out the door, but when your top talent leaves for greener pastures, that’s a different story.

Your most valued contributors are difficult to replace, and nearly impossible to replace quickly.  There are some strategies the human resources team can take, however, to improve the likelihood that “the one that got away” will turn into a “boomerang” employee.

First off, you must be able to identify which of your former employees you’d be willing to bring back on board.  Sure, some “exes” will stick out in your mind for being fired, leaving on bad terms, or otherwise burning bridges.  It is easy to pinpoint who you don’t want back.  But the ones that you wished you could clone, the ones who did well for you and left too soon – those are your candidates for rehire.  Other factors to consider: has the experience they’ve gained or connections they’ve developed since leaving made them more valuable to your firm?  Were they good fits for the company culture initially?  Are they specialists with hard-to-find skills?

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Send them off with a smile.  Final impressions have sticking power.  Address employees’ concerns before the last day and offer positive feedback (provided it’s honest, of course) on their time with the company.

Be proactiveAs relevant positions open up, occasionally reach out to past employees to gauge their interest in returning.  These that you’re keeping in mind for vacancies may also be good sources for referrals from their own professional networks.

Build an Alumni Relations ProgramThis is a great way to show that the company’s relationships with its staff – past and present – are of utmost importance.  If your organization is smaller in size or not quite ready to go this route for another reason, consider using a social media platform such as LinkedIn to interact with alumni, make announcements about the company’s successes, and post job openings.

Work the Referrals.  Extend the parameters of your referral (and rewards) program to include past employees.  Your staff are able to make more informed recommendations about a past colleague, after all, than a friend or acquaintance.

Show them the Money.  Offering incentives such as reinstating retirement benefits or factoring past service into the amount of leave granted, for instance, can be a great draw for returning employees.  Raises don’t hurt, either.


Maurice-Gilbert-01Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Regulatory Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice can be reached at www.conselium.com or maurice@conselium.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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