4 Reasons to Stay in Touch with Former Employees

Most of the time, employees can be your best assets. For companies with high employee engagement and positive morale, it’s possible to maintain great relationships with ex-employees. In fact, it’s encouraged.

Employees leave companies for a variety of reasons, and it doesn’t always mean they dislike the company. Sometimes it’s for health or family reasons, and sometimes a better opportunity comes along that’s too good to pass up, and you just can’t make the employee stay. Nonetheless, good employees are worth keeping in touch with. Whether you use those relationships to create referral programs, boost the company’s employer brand or generate more positive reviews, past employees are an important part of your HR or recruiting strategy.

It all starts with maintaining a positive workplace environment and making sure that when employees do leave the company, it’s with a positive outlook. Offer to be a reference for them if needed and remind them that they can always come back – it’s good for them and it’s good for you. According to a 2015 survey, approximately 76% of HR professionals said they would be more accepting of hiring former employees than in the past, and 40% of employees said they would consider going back to a company they once worked for.

Why You Should Stay in Touch with Former Employees

  1. Ex-Employee Referrals – Just because someone left the company doesn’t mean they can’t be an excellent resource. If you stay in touch with past employees, even just on LinkedIn or other social media, you can reach out to them to see if they know anyone for certain job openings. Because the ex-employee already knows the company environment, they’re more likely to recommend relevant candidates, and they can give their recommended candidates an honest but positive opinion of the company.
  2. Brand Loyalty – When companies and employees part ways on a positive note, the ex-employee may remain more brand loyal than an employee who leaves on negative terms. Forbes cites the movie Up in the Air in which George Clooney’s character does his best to turn negative situations into positive ones when he travels to other companies to let go of their employees. No matter the reason an employee leaves their job, keeping the process professional and positive can have a huge impact on the employee’s perception of the company’s brand later on. Use their brand loyalty as a reason to stay in touch.
  3. They Don’t Go Far – What do I mean by that? Many ex-employees may go on to work for competitors, and it’s a huge advantage if you can win them back to your company one day and utilize their knowledge of working for the other side. Any ex-employee will likely stay in their field and gather more experience, so if you recruit them back, they may be an even better asset for your company. Keep in touch through LinkedIn and let them know you’d love to see them back one day. Follow their career and see where they end up, and maybe you’ll be able to capture more boomerang employees.
  4. Advice and Reviews – Former employees tend to keep in touch with current employees, so they have a unique perspective on the company and can easily share that perspective as advice to the company or as a review to prospective employees. Keeping in touch with former employees can help you learn how to deal with problems and find out what changes the company should make to keep its current employees happy. Similarly, you can reach out to former employees to write reviews of the company on popular websites like Glassdoor, helping boost the company’s brand with honest and (hopefully) positive reviews.

There are many benefits to maintaining relationships with former employees, and because relationships are already vital to recruiting, it shouldn’t be hard to do. Companies that utilize exit interviews and solicit feedback from their employees can also learn a lot about why good employees leave the company and either prevent turnover or learn how to bring them back when the time is right.