Change your definition of employee loyalty now, or continue to lose your best talent. This is my challenge for clients, peers and other business leaders as we enter 2017.
The Boomerang Principle – the belief that organizations that allow and encourage former employees to return have a strategic advantage over those that don’t – has fueled my company Double Forte, since we opened our doors in 2002. Fueled us with new clients, new people, returning people – who become fully productive in less than a quarter of the time of new-to-us employees – and general advocates for the company out in the world. This has been one of our strategic differences in a super-competitive market for the last almost 15 years. Today, four current employees and three clients are boomerangs, and 85% of our alumni are connected to the company in a positive way.
When I tell people this, I get one of two responses along the lines of:
“You are crazy, Lee. Why bring people back – they’re just going to leave again. Once they’re gone, they’re gone;” or the less common
“Well, duh.” — I paraphrase.
Duh, because those executives know that the strategic advantages of implementing The Boomerang Principle drop right to the bottom line:
- Higher Productivity
- Shorter Sales Cycles
- Shorter Recruiting Cycles
- Lower Unwanted Turnover
- Faster On-boarding
- Higher Profit
For the “you’re dead to me crowd” it’s a big shift in mindset. These folks have to move from a point of view
that former employees are no longer viable candidates or partners. Or, that they are inherently competitors fighting to the death. From that old-school mindset, they must embrace the mentality that anticipates and fosters lifetime loyalty from employees regardless of whether they are on the payroll.
Applying the Boomerang Principle to your organization helps you turn former employees into an advantage and a footprint enhancer or extender when they become your biggest fans and allies. It’s not just possible, it’s strategically imperative for organizations of the future who need to maintain their key talent – who are more prone to shorter tenures than many Boomer management would like – to maintain their strategic advantage over their competitors. Of course part of the equation is on the employees’ shoulders; you can read more about that here.
The day you hire someone you know they’re going to leave you. And this is not disloyal if they leave you well to further their own career or lifestyle goals. One strategic advantage for companies that embrace this fact and attitude is that they stop spending energy mandating loyalty and protecting against “job-hopping,” both of which usually create more of the opposite result than intended, and focus their energy on helping their employees reach their potential within the context of the workplace. The result? A happier, more productive workforce, increased profit, and longer tenures from the people you really don’t want to leave. I’ve talked a lot about how much more productive an appreciated workforce is over those that aren’t – you can read more about that here. (link)
Companies that are desirable to return to are harder to leave.
“But Lee, aren’t you just catering to people who don’t want to work hard? Do you really want everyone to stay or come back?”
Of course not.
In order for this model to work, the organization and its people must firmly place career development responsibility on the employee. Creating opportunity for your people is in the company’s benefit; taking advantage of it is the employee’s responsibility. And helping people to be successful somewhere else when the organization can’t accommodate someone’s goals is required. It’s a long view that has tremendous short term impact in terms of productivity and culture, and long term benefits in sales and recruiting.
I believe in this so strongly, that I’ve written a book about it, The Boomerang Principle: Inspiring Lifetime Employee Loyalty, which is available now for pre-order here. In it, I share how and why we got to a place where managers and leaders are reticent to hire younger employees because they don’t like to stay in one place very long, and how you can stop worrying about that and start focusing on creating a culture that drives high performing people to create great things together. I interviewed more than 100 people for this book and surveyed thousands of others to bring forward a “from the trenches” tested framework that will help future-proof your business.
Start thinking long term now and create lifelong relationships with your employees past and current and your business will perform better long into the future.