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Companies do care about their brand image, they develop brand strategies, and they foster relationships with the society, all requiring significant investments in a diverse set of areas. Employees are always a particular area of focus, with continuous investments in employer branding and employee branding. Having said that, the employee exit experience is still missing the right approach from the HR, Marketing and Communication departments.
Because of that lack of focus on employee exit,
the potential benefits of proper exit experience are not explored or maximized
and the risks of reputation damage that a poor exit execution can trigger are
ignored. What happens is that after years and years of employee branding
investments, the companies very often simply unplug, lose control from an
eventually relevant opinion maker as soon as the employee leaves the company.
In conclusion, there is a sudden lack of interest in perpetuating that brand
Actually in the case of the employees, the creation of a brand image starts with the selection process experience, regardless if that step was successful for the candidate, as we would wish that an unsuccessful candidate to keep a positive emotion from that short contact and hopefully will share it. On the other side, for the successful candidate, an employee branding journey is just about to start with the company converting the new team member in a brand ambassador : of the company , the products/services, in front of institutions, creating strong ties with the society and attracting new talent.
The communication and HR departments develop programs to get great engagement and motivation from the teams, in order to achieve high efficiency and project a fantastic image outside, with suppliers, intuitions, partners and so on. What is clearly missing in most of the companies is the simple objective of perpetuating that brand ambassador, even after leaving the company.
Fortunately most of the exits do not have a conflict behind and so the natural tensions of that transition are perfectible manageable. Again in most of the types of exit (being it a decision from the company due to a transformation, an exit of the employee to other company, a retirement), there is more time available than just the legal stated period, allowing as well a proper handover to the new job holder. There will be sufficient time to apply a detailed exit checklist of tasks to perform smoothly, guaranteeing for both employer and employee a professional change management and a transition to exit in good collaboration.
The exit experience should have from the company the same care and preparation as the welcome and on boarding of a new employee and that is mainly an HR department task. Maintaining an ambassador after exiting the company, following years of brand investment on that employee must be a clear objective for the company. Inherently, the working environment will be much more positive, it will foster talent attraction, it will reinforce and perpetuate brand investments and last but not the least, the company will still benefit from any collaboration that might be useful from the ex-employee.
To achieve this objective of perpetuating the brand ambassador, companies need to focus on the communication of the exit, on the quality of the exit process and on the professionalism and tone of the execution of that same process, by the key stakeholders, normally on the HR department. People will expect and certainly deserve gestures of recognition, which of course should be in line with the individual’s career, and in this context, we are refereeing exclusively to non-monetary compensations.
The exit is also one of the best moments to listen to the employee, through a professional structured script for an exit interview. If the entire process was fairly handled, the employee will be more relaxed, open and willing to share more about his/her experience in the organization. During the exit interview, we should focus in complementing information not covered on the usual employee surveys and with an open interview, with the right climate, we can flash back an entire career in a company and understand how the ex-employee received the different career experiences. The company will have to find out who does have the right skills to hold that conversation and needs to find the person better placed in relation with the exiting employee to conduct it and ensure the best relationships for the future are guaranteed.
Large companies will inevitably have a turnover of significant magnitude. Ignoring this opportunity to gather first-hand information, to understand trends, to anticipate short-term moves, to improve continuously and to maintain a brand ambassador is not responsible.
Just as companies make increasing efforts to improve customer experience, there are also very good reasons to take the same approach with employees. Companies should invest in creating positive emotions and in fostering the continuation of prosperous future relationships after the exit, to be able to maintain that enthusiastic and permanent ambassador.
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