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Leave the Door Open for Former Employees to Return

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Your relationship with an employee doesn’t have to end when they leave your team. As a manager, it benefits you to end on good terms and leave the door open for them to return in the future. Here’s how to do that. First, destigmatize and normalize leaving. If you talk about employees who quit as traitors, you’ll cause those who remain to view them negatively, creating a culture that’s implicitly closed off to company alumni. Instead, make it clear during onboarding that it’s perfectly normal — even expected — to move on at some point. Talk openly about company alumni and what they’re doing now. Highlight any people who have left and returned to show that being a boomerang employee is possible. Focus on creating an excellent off-boarding experience, too. This could mean providing access to career coaches who can help departing employees land on their feet (assuming that’s financially feasible for your organization), or connecting them with other company alumni who might be good contacts moving forward. Be explicit that the door is open. You might say something like, “While we don’t want you to leave, we understand why you need to go and we’re here to support you. If — and when — you want to return, there will be a home for you here.” Finally, stay in touch. Check in with your alumni a few times a year, particularly if an opportunity arises that you think might be a good fit for them.

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