A study released in the Employee Engagement Series developed by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and WorkplaceTrends.com, states that the boomerang employee is being reevaluated by employers. To be clear, boomerang employees are the alumni of your organization. They are people who worked for you at some point, that would rejoin your company at a later date. It is reported in this study that 76% of employers are more accepting of hiring former employees now than in the past.
While it is admirable and even interesting that company alumni are being seen in a different light all of the sudden, we need to examine the underlying factors to understand why this trend may be emerging and has longevity.
Employers like it easy…
Considering a former employee for rehire is fairly easy. Sure, they could have picked up some bad habits elsewhere, but they are a known entity. There is a familiarity that puts both the employee and employer at ease. Training is more of a refresher than actual training. Assimilation into the the company ecosystem is fairly seamless as both parties have a sense of what makes the other tic.
The trouble with all of this “ease” is most employers have nothing in place to either keep tabs on alumni or to even rehire them without any hiccups. To effectively keep in contact with former employees, companies would actually have to change how they view voluntary terminations/resignations. Regardless of how well people perform on the job, there is often a stigma left behind when a resignation is tendered. Some companies see it as an affront when an employee leaves their company. Bad feelings, a lack of interest in knowing what motivated the resignation and poor system tracking- usually impede most companies ability to adequately follow the alumni footprint.
Got a Corporate Alumni Network?
Companies like Deloitte, IBM , KPMG and Microsoft have them. Beyond the hurt feelings and resentment often felt when employees move on, corporate alumni networks allow you to keep in touch with your former employees, so as to not have them stray too far from your grasps. It also creates a secondary pool talent pool that can act as a direct and/or indirect talent pipeline for your company.
You may be thinking you need to manage another talent community like you need another form to fill out. However, there are significant benefits to creating these networks- so long as you have the resources to manage them effectively.
Here are some of advantages to having a corporate alumni network:
1) Continued rapport and connection with former employees.
2) The ability to disseminate hiring opportunities to a network of people you already know and who understand what makes for a successful hire in your organization.
3) Creating a proprietary place for former employees to connect, share ideas and rally around your company.
From a systems, tracking and incentive perspective, there are some things we need to get right before we can even tackle a network. Watch this week’s Ask Czarina below for tips on properly tracking and incentivizing alumni/boomerang hires.
Have you ever worked for someone who couldn’t understand that you don’t need to have your hand held through each of your tasks? I have encountered this many times over. I get it as a parent can be with their child or a person with a spouse or boyfriend- some leaders have a dysfunctional and almost abnormal need to feel wanted and/or needed. These are leaders who like a dependent team not an independent team. They derive their worth from micromanaging every aspect of their teams work and day.
There are some employees on your team that will appreciate the extra hand-holding or may need it. Another percentage of the bunch, will be annoyed with your constant meddling. In either scenario, you are doing your employees a disservice by operating this way. In the first scenario with the needy employee, they need you, you need them- it is the perfect situation- right? No. On one hand it is great for you to provide the individual support that one of your team members may need to be successful in their position. In contrast, you are so hands-on that this person never spreads his or her wings. They will never realize the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from working through a problem and ultimately fixing it without anyone else’s assistance. This level of problem-solving and critical thinking are the same skills that become important from a developmental standpoint and could hurt the person’s chances of moving up the proverbial ladder. With your independent players, the liability here is that they will feel like you are purposely trying to stifle them not only in their positions, but also from growing beyond their current rank.
When I went through this, I just remember thinking: “Wow! This lady is a nutjob! Can I breathe? Let me do what you hired me to do.” The beauty of leadership is rooted in remaining flexible to the needs of your team. If one person needs a little more attention, you give it. If you have a few high-performers who require simple guidance and behind-the-scenes support, move out of their way and let them get the job done. More importantly, if you are a micro-manager, you need to redefine your worth within the parameters of your job. You are not more successful as a leader when you are giving orders and trying to manage everyone else’s desk plus your own.
What your micromanaging proves is that:
1) You have no faith in your team to execute their tasks accordingly.
2) You have issues with true delegation and that should be addressed.
3) You prefer the visibility to be on you and not your team which is why you won’t allow them to do their jobs.
4) You fear the potential for failure when you are not in a position to handle a task or project.
5) You are not interested in developing your team so they can eventually move into other roles. Keeping them dependent allows you to stagnate the very skills that would propel them ahead.
No matter what the needs of your individual team members are; have faith in them. Empower them. Allow them to problem solve and critically think through issues. Create a safe-haven for failure so employees don’t fear failure, but see it as an inevitable outcome in business. Support your team so they bounce back from those inevitable failures wiser and better than before. This is what people have wanted in a leader in the past and present. Equally, this is how leaders will have to operate in the future.
Join me on The Aristocracy of HR You Tube Channel for more dialogue on this topic:
A friend of mine posted this blurb on Facebook from an audio book he was listening to (note: I don’t know the name of said audio book):
“Numerous studies have shown us that those given authority are more likely to lie, cheat and steal, while also being harsher in their judgments of others for doing these same things. Science tells us people with power feel less compassion for the suffering of others.
Previous experiments also show us that those who are obedient to authority are capable of the worst forms of murder, and tolerant of the worst forms of abuse. They will even chastise those of us who resist corrupt authority. They become facilitators of evil, believing that obedience to authority absolves them of personal responsibility. “
This blurb above is an explanation of today’s cesspool management and hierarchy that permanently resides in many companies. Although we speak very seriously and regularly about the importance of leadership development as HR practitioners, the truth is very rarely are managers chosen with care. In fact, I have personally observed companies who promote people to management or leadership roles based on their ability to be obedient and play the game.
What happens is the road to leadership then becomes a chess match played by cheaters. The rules are not static, but changed on an as-needed basis to suit the players. People like myself and my colleagues never stand a chance in being promoted or even surviving as an employee, because we live and work by a code of conduct. The code of conduct isn’t some arbitrary manifesto we write down to make people believe we are responsible, discerning, fair individuals; but a construct that guides our work and how we treat others in and out of business.
When we say that employees don’t leave jobs they leave bosses- we really mean they leave regimes. Within the companies of some of your most beloved brands and products lies a regime that takes pride in beating its talent to a pulp daily with unkind words, unreasonable expectations and in some cases bullying- just because they can.
Recently, I read an article of the CEO of a company I used to work for. The article interviewed him about how he runs this large conglomerate and of course highlighted all of the philanthropic work he does for the community. Great article, nice man, toxic company. It’s his job to speak highly of his business, but what I know after working there in HR is that the leadership from HR to the actual facilities (in many cases) are toxic and a good 3/4 of the employees are disgusted; but remain there out of necessity.
Turnover is directly linked to these toxic environments. The age of obedience and subservience is dead. People want meaningful work and positive work environments. If they remain in your employ, it is purely out of necessity. Necessity breeds a paycheck- which also means that they couldn’t care less about the success of the company.
I’m not sure when it became cool to lead from a place of pure malice and fear, but it needs to stop. If the ultimate goal of talent management is to retain the right talent in organizations, it’s time we (HR and everyone else) took personal responsibility to be ethical, fair, equitable, and provide a workplace free of toxic leadership. That may mean getting rid of a manager that has high turnover even in light of his or her considerable contributions to the company. It could mean reprimanding a manager for being a jerk, even if he or she is your happy hour cohort.
A lack of personal responsibility, the inability to tell and own the truth; as well as unethical behavior are among the many reasons why your turnover may be high. Pay attention to your workforce. Don’t look the other way and cover your ears when it matters the most. Your talent is your brand. Treat them with the same respect and humility you would want for yourself.
How are you being more intentional about being better leader?
Contact us to help you build a strategy for developing positive leadership.