It’s been our good fortune to have both long-standing employees and fresh faces make up our team of 50 at Trozzolo Communications Group. One of our employees recently announced her plans, which included moving to another state. Though we were sad to lose her, we wanted to celebrate the good work she’d done for us with a going-away party thrown in her honor.
The turnout for the party was good and included a surprising number of former employees. Noticing the easy interaction of everyone there, it occurred to me that over the course of nearly 25 years as a business owner, I have more former employees than current employees.
This isn’t unusual for small to midsize businesses. And before you blame those job-hopping X & Y generations, remember that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently found that “the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.3 jobs from age 18 to age 46” – only four jobs fewer than the predicted number of jobs awaiting the millennial crowd in their lifetime. People move around; it’s a fact of working life, and it’s becoming more common across all industries.
Experience has proven that hiring with the intention of truly getting to know the employee is an honest, intelligent effort. It’s important to take strides to engage and retain employees. However, it’s equally important to realize that the relationships you develop with your staff can be an active component in your company’s growth even after they move on.
We tend to think only of our current employees – and co-workers – as the ambassadors of our business, but former employees are a force multiplier that’s often overlooked. Don't let employees’ departures leave a sour taste in your mouth. Value their time there and the good work they did for your company and your clients. Wish them well and they’re likely to be lifelong advocates for your business.
In the past few months, former employees directed new business to our company; they’ve invited us to civic events, included us on panels, and even sent new employees in our direction. Their endorsement of our work is personalized and carries weight with potential new clients. Former employees have even become clients.
Social media is an easy way to remain in touch. Use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to keep your connections strong. Include past personnel on your newsletter mailing list. Send them the company holiday card. No matter your method, think of past employees as alumni. Stay in touch and encourage return visits. Make it easy for that person to share the good news about your company.