According to MIT researcher, Imperial College Business School fellow, and author Michael Schrage, forward-thinking businesses should never neglect to keep their ex-employees in the loop.

In an article written for the Harvard Business Review, Schrage explains that maintaining good relationships with high-achieving employees who leave an organization is one of the simplest ways to inspire commitment within the business itself. 

In 2020 and beyond, companies that wish to stay nimble enough to adapt to current economic challenges should be investing in smarter people analytics which allow them to tap into the 5 vital R’s of ROEE (return on ex-employees).

The 5 R’s of ROEE (Return On Ex-Employees)

The 5 R’s of ROEE include referrals, references, resources, returnees, and respect. These great returns stand to benefit a business in countless ways, namely:


One of the most powerful things a business can achieve is to turn ex-employees into champions for their cause beyond the confines of formal employment. Companies like McKinsey have mastered this art to a T. They regularly succeed in turning former employees into lucrative clients, and that is quite the tall order.

However, even a solid, straightforward recruitment referral from a company alumni member is great for achieving objectives. Referrals are the number one source of hires, and organization’s who receive them can revel in better quality candidates, improved hiring metrics, and increased company loyalty.   


One of the biggest challenges businesses face these days is the so-called ‘war for talent’. Top performers are in demand, and often poached by corporate competitors on their way up the ladder.

If former employees are providing positive references and recommendations for an organization to sought-after candidates, there’s no better sign of a company winning at employee management. It’s the kind of PR that’s priceless when it comes to recruiting the best of the best.



When employees move on, they often go to places where they build out their skill sets even more. When good relationships are maintained with this golden talent, they can serve as valuable resources along the line when called upon to serve as consultants, contractors, freelancers; that is, a contingent workforce.


The term ‘boomerang employees’ refer to former employees who return to higher positions at a prior place of work after gaining more experience in their field. Needless to say, this type of ‘return’ is good for everyone involved.


Happy employees are productive employees. There are many aspects that contribute to healthy company culture, and mutual respect between management and employees is an important cornerstone in this regard.

When current and prospective employees can tell that a company’s ex-employees leave on good footing and were afforded all due respect throughout their tenure with the business and beyond, it contributes to a healthy, productive work environment.

The Short Of The Long

Organizations that manage alumni relationships correctly get referrals, references, resources, returnees, and respect which contribute to the overall ROEE (return on ex-employee). With all of this on the table, it only makes sense that businesses of all shapes and sizes should make a point of keeping relationships intact with former employees. 

Read the full article as published on the Harvard Business Review blog here