‘… From Your Employees’ part three

by Lee Caraher
Published by Bibliomotion, Inc.
ISBN: 9781629561684
eBook ISBN: 9781351816571
Copyright (c) 2017 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

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“At the same time, the rise of the contract economy—with the success of companies such as Uber, Lyft, Upwork, Fivvr, Care.com, Varsity Tutors, TaskRabbit, and so many others that offer Internet platforms that match independent contractors with specific skills to the companies and solopreneurs that need them—brings an entirely new dynamic to people’s professional expectations and opportunities and to companies’ searches for reliable and consistent talent to deliver on their business. We are in the early days of a dramatic talent and service market shift, yet I predict that those platform companies that engender loyalty from their talent pool rather than their users will be the most successful in the long term.

I’ve never met an Uber driver who wasn’t also a Lyft driver, and I’ve found the same graphic designers on Upwork as on Fivrr—no individual will rely on one platform to help him bring home the bacon. Businesses that can create marketplace demand for a particular service while honoring the actual provider will ultimately be those to which the talent pool is loyal. And without the personal connection or contract implicit in actual employment, loyalty will be predicated almost entirely on the platform company’s ability to deliver.

Where does all of this leave us?

Boomerangs—people who remain loyal to companies, not just people, after they leave—are now important drivers of sustainable business models for organizations for all sizes. Companies need to shift their philosophies, business practices, and mind-sets to embrace and leverage the fact that Americans increasingly understand that they will have to create their own careers and retirements; therefore, companies will only flourish when they engender and earn loyalty in their employee or talent bases so that when (not if) they leave, employees or contractors will Boomerang back as customers, referrers, advocates, or employees for their lifetimes.

Boomerangs are the drivers of sustainable business.

In addition to drawing on my own experience, I draw on interviews with more than one hundred business leaders—people who’ve returned to former employers (as well as those who wouldn’t consider it—and surveys with more than five thousand participants to share collective learning on creating a constructive work alumni group that may include boomerang talent. In the following chapters, I share how to put the Boomerang Principle to work for your business or team. Loyalty is not dead! The loyalty contract has changed, however, and when we embrace our new reality, we can dramatically improve our workdays, careers, and bottom lines.


The New Loyalty Paradigm

“No one’s loyal anymore; why should I invest one minute in these people? They’re all going to leave soon anyway.” So began my conversation with a general manager of a Boston-based medium-sized technology firm; I’d asked, “What’s your biggest pain point right now?” And his response is a variation on a theme I’ve heard over the past five years in my work as the CEO of my own company, board member for a variety of nonprofit organizations, member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and keynote speaker on creating positive intergenerational workforces. Boomer bosses, in particular, seem to have a difficult time with the reality that their younger colleagues, especially Millennials, don’t plan to stay in one company for a very long time. Or at least their perception is that Millennials won’t stick.

Loyalty—the quality or state of having a strong feeling of support or allegiance to a company or organization—has long been equated with the tenure of an employee. No more. In today’s world, where people expect to chart their own meaningful careers independent of a set time at any one entity, we need to shift our definition of loyalty to a company from a long tenure to a lifetime of allegiance regardless of employment status.

What businesses small, medium, and large need today is a proportional growing army of former employees who remain advocates, consumers, and friends of our companies. This is the future of the thriving workplace: Successful companies will inspire valuable alumni who ensure their businesses’ relevance and vitality. We need boomerang employees who come back to our companies as consumers, referrals, partners, clients, contractors, and, yes, employees for a second or third tour of duty.

The Boomerang Principle: the belief that organizations that allow and encourage former employees to return have a strategic advantage over those that don’t.

Those companies that shift now for the long game of allegiance will have a strategic advantage over those that don’t. Why? First, because this mind-set, and the actions, policies, and cultures that derive from it, actually keep good employees in companies longer than they had planned, which in turn drives efficiency and profit. Second, returning employees become fully functional and utilized exponentially faster than new employees. Third, the larger your allegiant footprint, the more sustainable your business will be.

Millennials: Job-Hoppers?

“Why are Millennials such job-hoppers?” This question has been almost universal in my work coming out of ‘Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work’, the book I wrote out of my experience recovering from what I called my company’s epic failure to retain Millennials. More than 150 interviews and 50 speeches and workshops later, I can tell you that the lament of “no one’s loyal anymore” is an important, and damaging, narrative— or background music—in companies of all sizes across the country today. Search ‘job-hoppers’ or ‘job loyalty’, and you could spend hours just paging through the results, most of which are laden with negativity.”


It is rare today for employees to stay with one organization for the long tenures that were the norm before the Great Recession. In fact, “job hopping” is the new norm, especially for Millennials. In The Boomerang Principle, companies learn how to leverage this fact rather than fear it. By engendering a lifetime of loyalty from former employees, leaders can see them “return” in the form of customers, partners, clients, advocates, contractors, and even returning employees.

Author Lee Caraher has built several companies and managed many Millennials along the way. In her first book, Millennials & Management, she shared her wisdom on how to get an intergenerational workforce to contribute to the larger goals of the organization. In this follow-up book, she shifts the emphasis to creating valuable, long-lasting relationships with your employees to ensure they remain your biggest fans, even if they leave the company.

The Boomerang Principle is a pragmatic answer to the outdated corporate mindset around employee turnover. Instead, it shifts the focus to creating lifetime loyalty from your alumni who will bring back business again and again.


Lee McEnany Caraher is the founder and CEO of Double Forte, a national public relations and digital media agency, based in San Francisco, that works with beloved consumer, technology, and wine brands. A sought-after communication strategist, Lee is known for her practical solutions to big problems. Her first book, Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work, was informed by her work helping organizations around the country create positive intergenerational workplaces.

Lee is active in her community, and sits on the board of directors or trustees of KQED Public Media, San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, and Menlo College. A graduate of Carleton College, Lee has a degree in medieval history which she finds useful every day. She lives on the San Francisco Peninsula with her husband, their sons, and Al, their blind cat.

This week’s selection ‘THE BOOMERANG PRINCIPLE’ by Lee Caraher appears Monday thru Friday and comes to you courtesy of dearreader.com and BurlingtonPublicLibrary.ca Business Online Book Club.

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