Stop Measuring Employee Loyalty By Tenure: 5 Steps to Creating a Boomerang Culture

Guest post from Lee Caraher:

The great lament of so many leaders and managers today is
that “no one is loyal anymore.” With millions of millennials pegged as “job
hoppers” who “leave before they even get productive,” older managers are
increasingly unwilling to put in the effort to help develop and train their
younger colleagues. The logic goes – “why should I put my effort into helping
these people when they’re just going to leave me and I’ll have to start all
over again.”

Oh, the good old days, when people stayed where you wanted
them for as long as you wanted them to and retired with a golden watch and some
balloons.

Yeah. Those good old days are long gone, if they ever
existed at all. And not because people changed, but because companies stopped
honoring the implicit contract that permeated American business: you work hard
and the company will take care of you. Employees today know that they can’t
count on a company to take care of them, and that they need to craft their own
career with building blocks of job experiences that keep them relevant, and
increasingly valuable. Add to that their desire to be both interested in and
satisfied with the impact of their work.

The old loyalty paradigm is dead, and it’s time for us to
switch from measuring employee loyalty by length of employment, to an entire
career lifetime regardless of whether a paycheck is involved or not. This is
the Boomerang Principle: the belief that organizations that allow and encourage
former employees to return have a strategic advantage over those that don’t.

Consider these points to help prepare you for this new
mindset:
   When you hire someone, you know they
are going to leave you. Instead of worrying about when they’re going to leave,
focus on helping your employees be as valuable as possible while they’re with you;
    
It’s unlikely that one organization could offer the
range of opportunities – skills, positions, locations, terms, or dynamics –
that every employee will want over the course of their careers. Instead of
treating former employees as “dead to you,” consider the skills that they will
gain away from your company and figure out how you can get them to return when
they are more valuable to you in the future;
    
With every former employee, you have the opportunity to
INCREASE your footprint in the business world. Creating an environment and
relationship that keeps former employees informed and attached to your company
can pay off in exponential ways after they leave you in terms of potential
clients, partners and advocates in the industry and community. Better to have
people proud of their association with you, than actively preferring not to
recommend your company as an employer or a provider.
    
 When you create a “culture of return”
you create a “culture to remain.” Environments that are worthy to return to –
where people are welcomed to return – are generally more positive, more
high-performing, more productive and more profitable than those that aren’t.
These types of positive organizations are hard to leave just to leave, and have
much lower employee turnover rates than those organizations that treat their
former employees as pariahs.
And now, how can you create a culture of return? Here are 5
steps to creating a Boomerang culture.
1.   
Kill the counter
offer:
Stop countering people with higher salaries when they tell you they
are leaving. Don’t do it. Instead treat people who are moving on to different
opportunities well and welcome them to return in the future if the time is
right. Fellow employees know when a business counters exiting employees, and it
creates an incredibly negative dynamic and resentment among teams. Stop feeding
any negativity you can.
2.   
Stay connected
in real, meaningful ways:
Stay in touch with your former employees. If you
haven’t done this in a while, make a list of the people who left your company
in the last 24 months. Over the next six to twelve months, reconnect with all
of them in some way – from meeting for dinner to connecting on LinkedIn. Show
interest in where they are and what they’re doing.
3.   
Insist on and
train great managers:
Make sure your managers are actively involved in
their team members’ development plans. Reward managers for helping their
colleagues to succeed and reach their own goals. When organizations are
demonstrably invested in their employees, people feel more loyalty towards them
and are more willing to make good things happen in the workplace.
4.   
Start a
company-sponsored alumni program:
If you can’t create your own online
platform, start with a private Facebook group with your former employees and
current team leaders in it. Share company updates, learning opportunities and
discounts or other opportunities with your alumni. Ask your alumni for their
recommendations for people to fill open positions; reward every referral with a
token of appreciation. When you keep a relationship going with your former
employees, they are more apt to recommend your company as a vendor, partner or
employer – this shortens recruiting, biz dev and sales cycles by many cycles.
5.   
Tout the quality
of the staff you’ve had:
You’ve created a great thing here, be proud of
that. Showcase your company alumni in the alumni network. Post interviews with
former employees that detail their current positions and lives; ask them to
comment on how their time with your company prepared them for their current
jobs. The more you demonstrate that you’re proud that they are proud of their
time with you, the more valuable you become to your former, current and future,
employees.
Thinking about and then putting in place mechanisms that
help you inspire employees to be loyal to your organization for their entire
careers – not just their tenure – is a paradigm shifting exercise. By applying
the Boomerang Principle – the belief that organizations that allow and encourage
their former employees to return have a strategic advantage over those that
don’t – your company will increase happiness in the workplace – happiness that
translates right down to the bottom line.

Lee Caraher is
the founder and CEO of Double Forte a national PR and social media agency
working with beloved brands in the consumer, technology and wine categories.
Her second book is The Boomerang Principle:Inspiring Lifetime Loyalty From Your Employees
.