The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty From Your Employees, by Lee Caraher
Five out of five stars
There are few books that can be described as trailblazers, this is one of them. On the fortunate side, it is largely one of going back to principles effectively used in the past, on the unfortunate side the overwhelming majority of executives simply will not follow the advice.
Decades ago, when people were first employed at a business they were operating under an implied mutual understanding. The employee would do a good job and work there for a long time, in many cases a lifetime before retiring. On the other side, the employer would provide benefits such as a pension plan and only engage in lay-offs in extreme cases of economic recession. Once the business recovered, the laid off workers would then be rehired into their old positions with no loss of seniority.
Many employers complain about the lack of loyalty among their employees, yet as Caraher points out, the majority of the blame for this is due to the crass actions of employers. Employees know that they can be terminated with very little to none in the way of severance at any time. Companies that do provide benefits are constantly reducing them in the quest for higher profit margins.
The current situation is summed up well on page eight.
“In one survey of corporate executives of publicly traded companies, none of the participants said they would invest in a five-to-ten year plan guaranteed to increase profitability if it meant ‘a penny off of their share price.’”
It is then pointed out that this means that there is no priority regarding the welfare of their employees.
Within this environment and with the understanding that employees will generally be leaving anyway, Caraher puts forward an alternative tactic. When employees leave, treat them well, stay in touch with them to the extent possible and welcome them back if the circumstances change. Much like hiring back laid off workers. The point is that a lot of business success in the modern world is driven by goodwill, including how the departed feel about your organization.
It is a sound policy and the ubiquitous nature of social media makes it easy to keep in touch. This policy is also an admission of understanding the reality, sometimes the reason people leave is a consequence of what the company is doing wrong. Furthermore, it is likely to be something that can be fixed, to the betterment of the organization.
The American economy is rapidly changing, with more and more workers operating in what is called the “gig format.” This is where a worker joins a group, works until a set of tasks is completed and then moves on to join another group. This also includes the freelancers, people that contract for a specific job and then move on. Since this is the new reality that is unlikely to change, the smart managers should do all they can to make sure that ex-employees have as positive an opinion as possible regarding their organization. As is stated several times in the book, lifetime loyalty does not have to mean working there for a lifetime, only having a positive opinion of the organization for a lifetime.