7 tips to help you keep a good relationship with your ex-employees

So they become advocates of your brand.

No IT professional likely works their first job for the rest of their lives. Letting anyone from your tech team go can be an uncomfortable and even complicated situation. However, there might be a better way to turn any separation into a beneficial opportunity for all parties involved. 

Former employees that had a great experience while working for you might become real ambassadors for your brand, as they advocate for new employees and customers. Considering this, companies should always strive to treat their employees well and make the best out of their relationships with their team. Here are 7 tips to help you do just that.

1. Empower your team

Your developers and programmers are more likely to be motivated to work if they feel like there’s a chance to grow and evolve in your company. 

According to Harvard Business Review, research has shown that “when employees feel empowered at work, it is associated with stronger job performance, job satisfaction, and commitment to the organization”. The more confident your team is, the more efficient and effective their work will be, jumpstarting productivity.

There are many ways to empower your tech team. Through accountability and trust, giving employees more autonomy and responsibility, or by supporting learning and development. However, a good team starts with a good leader. Don’t just tell your employees what to do, instead, actually go through the changes and grow with them. Involve them in the projects and allow them to make decisions. Benjamin Franklin said it best:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”.

Always encourage and motivate your tech team and give them the opportunity and confidence to improve and advance. IT professionals who feel valued are likely to remain loyal to your company, even after they move on.

2. Be transparent and authentic from beginning to end

The best relationships are always based on transparency and authenticity.

Traci Beach, Craft Impact’s CEO and member of the Young Entrepreneur Council, considers that “transparency is motivational”. She adds that “communicating openly and honestly allows employees to understand the bigger picture and how their individual efforts contribute to and align with the company’s goals and objectives. It fosters an environment where employees know that they are part of the process, not bystanders.”

If you openly communicate with your tech team about company goals, performances, organization and also take time to listen to their feedback and ideas, you’ll make them feel trusted and important, as a part of the company, creating genuine relationships.

An employee that feels great talking to you, will also have no problem speaking highly about you and your company.

3. Fight for your employees

The business world is more competitive than ever. In a large company, you’ll find many different teams fighting for their chance at success. At any moment, you might be faced with budget cuts, downsizing requirements, and other internal factors that can jeopardize your tech team. 

What can you do? 

Fight for your team!

Vince Lombardi, a famous  American football coach, who led several teams to win the Super Bowl championship, once said: "Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a teamwork, a company work, a society work, a civilization work".

There are many ways to show that you care for your team, such as applying retention strategies, and being ready to "go to the mat" for any of your employees. When faced with the task of downsizing, instead of firing people, try relocating them to other departments, or moving the termination day to let your employee prove their worth.

Don’t be afraid to take one for the team when it comes to budget cuts, and try considering other options like temporary work relief or lay-off.

As a leader, you know that losing people affects productivity as a whole. It's your responsibility to assess the situation, take action and appropriately defend your team.

4. Let them know that they are welcome to come back

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do that will make your employee stay. Your developer or programmer might feel like it’s time to take on another challenge, somewhere else, and that is okay. What’s important is that they leave knowing that your door will always be open to them, should they ever decide that they want to come back in the future.

Letting someone go is always uncomfortable so if you assure your employees that it's okay to "fly away" and that there are no hard feelings you're creating a positive environment for the departure. Not only will your former employee feel safer, should their new ventures not work out for the best, but you'll also end up with someone loyal to you and your company.

5. Offer to write a recommendation letter

When there's no way to avoid firing one of your IT professionals, make sure you’re doing everything you can to make the transition easier for them. For example, offer to write a recommendation letter. 

Recruiters and hiring managers see recommendation letters as a reassurance of the qualifications and knowledge of a possible new employee. Plus, it gives them an insight into how someone handles daily work, their character, and how they could benefit their company.

By writing a recommendation letter, not only are you possibly helping your employees find a new opportunity faster, but you’re also letting them know that their work has value to you and that they’d be an asset to any other company.

6. Make them feel part of the family

Becoming alumni doesn't have to mean the end for IT professionals, it can be the beginning. Alumni engagement can be just as beneficial to a company as current employee engagement, as it can easily generate brand awareness, referrals of future employees, and even business partnerships!

Make your former employees feel part of the family: offer them exclusive perks, invite them to events and webinars, ask them to give their testimonials, or write articles for your company. 

Building lifelong relationships matters more than lifelong employment.

By showing that you care for your alumni, your former employees won’t feel like they were simply replaced and forgotten. They actually mattered!

7. Change the way you say “Goodbye”

“Goodbyes” are always associated with awkward and uncomfortable moments when it comes to leaving a company, and maintaining a good relationship with a developer or programmer you just let go isn't always easy.

However, you can find better ways to let people go if you turn “goodbye” into “how can we both still benefit from this situation?”. If you can work on helping your former employees safely transitioning from your company to the next one, you’re likely to maintain positive relationships with them.

"A successful employee transition will aim to preserve relationships on all sides", said Rebecca Zucker, co-founder, and partner at Next Step Partners. To achieve successful outplacement, consider promoting employee wellness, use an exit interview as a way to provide constructive and honest feedback, create a good alumni network, and find alternatives to provide some extra attention and support as they transition to another company.

A former IT programmer that has a good relationship with your company is likely to continue to advocate for your brand, by sharing the great experiences they had from the moment they were hired to the moment they left.

7 tips to keep a relationship with your ex employees: final thoughts

Letting an employee go is never pleasant for anyone involved. However, there are some ways you can turn it into a positive experience while making sure that your alumni will remain loyal and advocate for your company, by becoming real ambassadors for the brand.

From empowering your tech team to changing the way you look at “goodbyes”, it’s always about making your employees feel valued and understood. Treat them as if they might, one day, become future customers or business partners. This way, even when they leave, they’ll always have positive things to say about their experience.

The better a former employee can speak about your brand, the easier for you it’ll be to hire new people in the future, so make sure to leave no stone unturned when it comes to providing the best work environment for your programmers and developers.

At KWAN we have several employees who leave to embrace new challenges and come back again a few years later, so we definitely know how important it is to care for both current and former employees!

By choosing to work with KWAN, we will make sure your tech team gets day to day support, career coaching, and mentoring from a dedicated and experienced team of professionals.

So they don’t turn into former employees anytime soon! 😉

Get in touch if you would like to know more.

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