Ernst & Young LLP has learned that staying connected to employees who leave the firm is good for business.
About five years ago, the Toronto-based accounting firm decided to ask former employees what the company could do for them, even though they no longer drew a paycheck from E&Y. Colleen Albiston, E&Y's director of national marketing, traveled around Canada and found a strong desire for continuing education.
Former staffers were given the same access as current employees to E&Y-sponsored webcasts that discuss developments in the field. Former employees also receive a newsletter twice a year and are invited to social gatherings. They can also log onto the E&Y alumni website to look up currrent and former employees, post resumes or read a list of job openings.
It's not unusual for former E&Y employees to return. In fact, 13 percent of new hires last year were so-called "boomerangs." Albiston told the Toronto Globe and Mail that one of the goals of the alumni program is to capture top talent.
For example, the company hires graduates, guides them through the accreditation process and then sees them move on. If they want to return later, it's often at a more senior level.
"They always bring back a lot of assets and understand clients on a level they wouldn't if they'd spent their whole career focused on this side of the business," Albiston said.
Returning employees also send a positive message about E&Y to younger employees, she said.
Luana Comin-Sartor, senior manager of audit and assurance business services in Toronto, rejoined Ernst &Young in 1999, after a long tenure at Nortel Networks Corp.
Younger colleagues seek out her advice about their own career prospects.
"People see me as having a more objective view, because I did leave," Comin-Sartor said. "When they're wondering where to go next, I can point out different possibilities, including staying at Ernst & Young."