According to research by a leading HR think-tank, as many as four out of every five leavers would consider working for their employers again. But few organisations have established effective systems for tracking and bringing back the best people, says think tank Ochre House

The think-tank believes that an employee’s resignation and departure should be regarded as a natural and possibly temporary process rather than as a cut-off point. Organisations should be thinking in what were described as ‘Hotel California’ terms – “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Delegates cited Johnson & Johnson’s ‘boomerang’ scheme and Astra Zeneca’s open door policy as prime examples of this thinking put into practice.

“Too many employers seem to see resignation as the end rather than the beginning,” says Ochre House director and think-tank leader, Helena Parry. “However it’s much more realistic and productive to accept that it’s natural for the best people to explore new career opportunities, but can often be enticed back through ‘keep in touch’ programmes, perhaps even more skilled and able than when they left. The key to success seems to lie in a clear allocation of responsibility for such programmes and a commitment to regular, relevant, but nor intrusive contact. But so far, few companies have succeeded in building this elastic talent pipeline.”