The boomerang effect
Develop the dialogue with your former employees, by Carole Pailhé
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A few days ago, Qian Wang, from L’Oreal Group « Talent Recruitment » department, contacted me via LinkedIn. In her message she asked me how I was doing and if I would be tempted by a job opportunity with L’Oreal. It may seem quite surprising for such an initiative to come from a group like L’Oreal, which a priori does not need to hunt for talents. But, to me, the most surprising is that L’Oreal is my former employer. I was lucky enough to start my career with them 13 years ago.
What impels a global giant, who keeps collecting employer awards worldwide, to maintain contact with former employees?
Since the 60s, consulting firms, with McKinsey in the lead, increase their network of « alumni » through social clubs and dinners. Today, and in all sectors, it is not uncommon to rehire or do business with a former employee. In an increasingly fragmented labour market, long are the days when employers and employees slammed the door on their way out. The boomerang effect (a metaphor for an employee who comes back to work for his or her former employer) is now part of HR real strategies.
How does it work?
There are many tools to create and maintain dialogue with former employees: tracking, social events, two-way interviews, online networks…
Some rely on dedicated platforms such as the Crédit Suisse and its Crédit Suisse Alumni Group launched in 2010, or with Procter & Gamble and its P&G alumni with more than 20,000 registered members worldwide. Others use groups – often initiated by volunteers – on the main professional networks. This is how Qian spotted me through the L’Oréal group Alumni on LinkedIn.
The idea is slowly making its way. The brakes could still be: resentment on both sides, mistrust towards a company that « fired » us or someone who « deserted » his company, possible underestimation of the efforts of adaptation required from both sides…
What is the added value?
On the comany side, the boomerang brings back:
1 Increasing flexibility. According to the 2012 KPMG report Rethinking Human Resources in a Changing World, 41% of the companies interviewed rely on subcontracting former employees. A workforce already trained and known, therefore quick to setup and reliable.
2 Business development opportunities. The former employees, now working with clients or potential partners, are excellent references. Some consulting firms even map their alumni network to identify new prospects and get one foot in the door of companies where they have coveted accounts.
3 A talent pool. Rehiring boomerang employees, who have discovered other professional environments, can bring new life into the company. They are also more loyal and reliable, having experienced that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
4 A faster and cheaper recruitment. According to Anne Berkowitch, CEO of SelectMinds, hiring former employees reduces recruitment costs from 50% to 60%: it is not necessary to go through an intermediary anymore, you can quickly verify employment history and, above all, the time needed for integration and training is greatly reduced.
5 Valuable feedback. After a reasonable period of time during which each individual will digest the separation (the mourning curve), some companies will ask the employees who resigned the reason as to why they left. They can then speak freely about the reasons of their departure and therefore point out areas for improvement in the organization.
What about L’Oreal in all this? I will tell you more in another article where we will dive deeper into the specific subject of hiring former employees, a promising topic to learn more about.
More generally, one thing is certain: your former employees are part of your immaterial capital. Your turn now! How do you intend to develop it?