The Employee Walk of Shame

I’ve lost jobs and I’ve called old employers to see if they would want to hire me back – I’ve usually gotten a response that sounded something like – “Oh, boy would we want you back – but – we just don’t have anything. Good Luck!”  Many of us in the talent game talk about our employee Alumni and how we should engage our Alumni – but very few of us really take true advantage of leveraging this network.

I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine took a new job.  You know the deal – shorter drive, more money, growing company – oh, golly, just where do I sign!?  The fact was, it was all they said – shorter drive, more money and they were growing – but they forgot to tell him was – our operations are broken beyond repair, you will work 7 days a week and probably 12-14 hours per day because of the mess we have, but keep your head up – it’s the only way you won’t drown here!

So, now what does he do?

Already had the going away party – bar night out with the work friends with the promises to do lunches and not get disconnected – packed up and unpack the office into the new office.  Let’s face it big boy – you’re stuck!  Not so fast.  He did the single hardest thing an employee can do – he called his old boss – after 7 days – and said one thing – “I made a mistake, can I come back?”  Luckily for him – his past boss was a forward thinking leader and so this past Monday – he did the 2nd hardest thing an employee can do – he made the Employee Walk of Shame.

You can imagine the looks from people who didn’t know him well – “hey, wait a minute, didn’t you leave?” Having to tell the same story over and over – feeling like he failed, like he wasn’t good enough.

HR plays a huge part in this story because it was HR who can make this walk of shame – a little less rough.  Let’s face it, it is different.  You just don’t leave and come back like nothing happened – something did happen – there was reason he left and that reason isn’t going away.  A transition back needs to be put into place – even though he was gone 7 days.  It’s not about just plugging back in – it is about re-engaging again – finding out what we all can do better so it doesn’t happen again.

It’s also about making sure you let those employees who you truly want back – that they are welcome to come back (assuming you have the job) and not just saying that to everyone.  There are employees who leave that you say a small prayer to G*d and thank – there are others where you wish there was a prayer you could say so they wouldn’t leave.  Make it easy for your employees to do the Walk of Shame – it helps the organization – but realize they are hurting, they are embarrassed, but they are also grateful!

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