Employee Retention: Emotional Networks and Boomerang Hires to Combat Skills Shortages?

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Company do well to bind your employees emotionally to the company. But many workers have quit internally. What to do?

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Here writes for you:

Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Company: Just madhouses?

Books put into words what many workers feel. Studies confirm it, and brain research underpins it: Our motivation drops because the emotional bond with the employer is decreasing more and more. It may be worrying that such a book appeals to many people and is very successful: Martin Wehrle's "I work in a madhouse" draws on the nonsense that occurs in many companies. It is nothing new that these conditions are criticized in companies.

Years ago, Corinne Maier put forward the thesis in “The Discovery of Laziness” that companies keep those who know how to make life as pleasant as possible - and accordingly recommended that you deal with one that is as unimportant as possible Bring the post out of the line of fire. This book also became a bestseller at the time.

The emotional attachment of employees to their company

The Gallup Engagement Index - a survey on the strength of the emotional attachment of German employees - is published annually. The management consultancy Gallup confronts randomly selected employees with statements about the workplace or environment.

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Based on the level of agreement with the statements, the responses are categorized as “without emotional attachment”, “low emotional attachment” or “high emotional attachment”.

The majority are on duty

The results are roughly the same every year: about a fifth of all employees quit internally, almost three quarters work according to the regulations and only the meager rest are at work. And every year people seem less interested in their businesses.

Now one can of course criticize the motives for this survey, because Gallup does not do such studies for no reason: it wants to sell its service, with the help of which Gallup proudly announces on its website, “The productivity of companies can be increased by taking appropriate measures the emotional employee loyalty can be proven and improved significantly. ”

Good finish instead of ex, hop and away?

But what does it actually mean that there are such studies and such offers? To put it in a nutshell: Many employers don't care about their employees at all.

This can also be seen when employees are fired. This is usually a very unpleasant process. It would be different from ex, hopp and weg: studies also show. that most ex-employees want to stay connected to the company - for example in alumni networks. Companies could also benefit from this: They can quickly recruit employees.

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Many job seekers and employees would like to keep in touch with the former employer and his employees. The wish is understandable, because with the loss of work, contacts with colleagues also break off and the social environment becomes noticeably smaller. In addition, of course, one also remains informed about current job offers in the company.

Boomerang Hires: positive aspects for companies?

And from a company perspective, contact with former employees, especially with former service providers, can also make sense. Because companies can specifically target well-known and proven candidates when recruiting. Retired employees can thus open up new career opportunities with former employers.

For example, many companies conduct exit interviews with departing employees and some employers set up so-called alumni networks in order to continue to bind former employees to the company. These “networks for alumni” are well received: many alumni and applicants would like to be included in the alumni network of a company and would even like a medium to close relationship with the former employer.

How can alumni networks help retain employees?

Alumni networks are otherwise only known from universities. But they also offer companies an ideal opportunity to keep in touch with former employees. If they are really used sensibly.

The phenomenon of these so-called boomerang hires, in the context of which former employees are recruited for the company, will play an important role, especially at the higher hierarchical levels, with the so-called professionals, as supply shortages are expected in the future, particularly for this hierarchical status.

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Emotional attachment must not only take place on paper

It all sounds very nice, of course, but only works if employee retention is also desired and taken seriously on both sides. However, this is not always the case because resentment often arises. There are also many employees who never want to communicate with the ex-employer again. In addition, in many cases it is clearly evident that companies are building ahead in the event of a possible shortage of offers.

However, these are often nothing more than empty phrases. Real emotional ties to the company do not only exist on paper or consist of regulareMails: In the case of alumni networks, for example, meetings, lectures, seminars etc. must also be organized that show the honest interest of the company in its employees. Otherwise, they will feel kidnapped and nobody wants that.

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  1. To follow debate on this post
  2. All debates follow
  1. Kristin

    I have a question about Boomerang Hiring. Is there any literature you can recommend? Unfortunately, I don't find anything about this keyword in our university library.

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Kristin,
      Unfortunately, no. I would just look for alumni networks. Or maybe ask student organizations.

  2. Alumni newsletter - companies, you missed sales, new customers and much more

    [...] In this way, the company stays in contact with its former employees. As a study from 2010 shows, many former employees want to keep in touch with their [...]

  3. Simone Janson

    Hello Johannes, I am happy if I can help a little. If I should post any questions, for example via Twitter, just report.

  4. Johannes New

    Thank you Simone for the quick answer and help!

    I'll try my luck in these specialist groups!


  5. Simone Janson

    Hi John,
    the study mentioned in the text unfortunately says nothing about how applicants assess the companies regarding their approach to applicants who have left: only a differentiation is made according to specialist groups:

    “Above all, those who work in banking or consulting want to be included in alumni networks. Here, more than half of the respondents stated that they would like to be included in a corresponding network of former employees after leaving a company. Figure 32 also shows that alumni networks also play a role for the other disciplines under consideration. ”

    As for the assessment of individual employers - you could try the Kununu employer evaluation platform. Or create your own survey, which I would also like to help make public.

  6. Johannes New

    Hello Simone,

    I am currently writing my diploma thesis at Robert Bosch GmbH and would have a question about your topic:

    Which companies are pioneers in terms of “alumni network”?


  7. Mark Brandis

    “Be flexible” also means that you work on Saturday, for example, and not Tuesday. Or that you work from home, which would be possible much more often than is propagated by German employers. So far, my experiences have been like this. Working hours after 19 p.m. were never billed for an employer, even if you were still in the company with others. Somebody has to explain to me what that has to do with flexibility…

    • Simone Janson

      That's right, employers often lack flexibility in the relationship and they want to constantly control everything. I know that too, that's why I became self-employed. But: There should also be other employers :-)

  8. Simone Janson

    Hello Julian, thank you for your passionate plea to learn for life! I totally agree with you, just a little skeptical about the implementation.
    One of the counter-arguments that emerged during the skills shortage debate was that it was difficult for older semesters in particular to familiarize themselves with a new programming language in a short time. But I think that is also a question of whether the brain is constantly active and therefore used to learning new things.
    However, the social upheavals required for this are, in my opinion, greater than simply saying: "And now you suddenly have to be willing to learn more."
    This is not normal for many people.


  9. Julian

    Hello Simone,

    to the extent that there is even further training besides your studies? Or as far as it has to be - to be ready to continue your studies alongside your studies?

    You may not be ready yet, but you should. If you don’t have a blinker, you don’t need to be afraid of international competition. Because then you say to yourself: I don't work a stupid 9 hours today because the others do it too. No, I can do the job in 6 hours if I really do my best. Then I even have time to do this and that or go to the networking meeting ... blah blah ... this is what a dedicated MA looks like, not the one who works 9 ... 10 ... 11 ... hours a day. Even large management consultancies like BCG have found that out. Stand in one of the last Harvard Business Managers ...

    And if you continue to work inefficiently 9 hours a day, you shouldn't be surprised if your place is outsourced, because the students in India have at least as much, but are much cheaper. That's why there are so many self-management guides in the United States. "How do I become more efficient?"

    Industry is migrating, knowledge workers are facing competition from low-wage countries. What does that mean for us? Don't just study once! Several times, and many small training courses in between anyway ...

    VG Julian

  10. Simone Janson

    @Julian, I also see it as an opportunity, I'm just skeptical whether people are ready.
    @Mark Brandis: In the discussion so far, however, it seemed to me as if the employees had problems with flexibility ...

  11. Goldegg publishing house

    Trend researcher Jánszky says that entrepreneurs should fire employees when things are going best ...
    A new trend ?!

  12. Mark Brandis

    “Even permanent employees have to show their own initiative (see Google 20% Fridays).”

    Well, I'm curious to see when you will be so flexible in German companies to introduce this. Maybe it will still work in my lifetime, but I don't want to bet a lot of money on it ;-)

  13. Julian

    Hello Simone,
    Thank you very much for your feedback. But I see it the other way around, as an opportunity. In the older article, the comments from STEM graduates are very interesting. I am still studying industrial engineering myself and, on the contrary, I am very optimistic. I can vaguely once say that even students have to develop on the side, despite the fact that the degree is also a development. Even and especially when a student studies stupidly in front of him and still teases out a good grade. He is more valuable if he has developed and carried out his own projects on the side, has been involved in initiatives and can take business contacts with him, which thus gives him experience and work samples. Cold applications have no chance against them! Honestly? I cannot complain about my options for starting internships or part-time jobs here and there.

    I love working on projects temporarily in an initiative, maybe switching to another one etc. I count myself among the younger generation than the one from the MINT article, and would argue that I would not welcome it later either “having to stay in a company for a long time, because this change of job is an opportunity for me to have interdisciplinary experiences and to develop myself personally.

    Of course, this structure of the project worker and the alumni networks will not work if the MA is still geared towards the 20th century and is not ready to develop not only with given seminars, but with their own interdisciplinary ideas and projects. Permanent employees must also show their own initiative (see Google 20% Fridays). Germany is developing into a knowledge society. Interchangeable is the one who does his job by chord and doesn't pay attention to how to become more efficient, how to improve processes, how to improve. Administrative tasks are interchangeable, as is chord work. The personal touch of an individual is not important here - as is required in knowledge work. And how do you get that personal touch? Further development. This closes the cycle - to which we run.

    But why do I actually say that is obvious;)

    Regards Julian

  14. Simone Janson

    Hi Julian,
    From an entrepreneurial perspective, that sounds reasonable. In my opinion, frustration could spread to employees. Because, especially in Germany, layoffs are still a personal disaster for many people and insecure employment relationships are far from being mainstream - I noticed that again in this discussion:
    In this respect, I am still a little skeptical about the current state of affairs ...

  15. Julian

    Very interesting notes. I recently read 2020: This is how we live in the future by Sven Gábor Jánszky. This book was created by a well-known think tank. And here, too, Jánszky will describe project workers in the future who will be fired when it is “most beautiful” so that they will later be motivated to come back after a rotation with other companies and the appropriate experience.

    At the moment it is played with and it is being tested. In the future, however, it will be a key factor in human resources. Or?

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