Harnessing the talent boomerang

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In 2012, more than 6,300 former employees re-joined Ernst & Young, now known as EY, globally. Such individuals are what the accounting giant refers to as “boomerangs”– people who have left EY to try out other employers, but have subsequently returned to the firm.

This provides EY with a healthy balance of people who have experiences within and outside the organization, says Mike Cullen, the firm’s London-based Global Managing Partner of People. “Our Chairman and CEO, Mark Weinberger, has left EY not once, but three times, and has achieved bigger and better things every time he’s come back,” he pointed out.

So how does an organization re-attract employees who have left for seemingly greener pastures? At EY, it is important that employees feel a part of the organization even after they have left, said Cullen. “We want all EY employees – whether future, current or past – to feel like a lifetime member of one of the best business networks in the world.”

The firm, with 162,000 staff on the books at any one time, keeps in touch with former employees through dedicated alumni magazines. It also offers directories that help alumni to expand their personal and business networks, as well as search for fellow alumni and see what they are up to.

Engaging employees

Employee engagement is central to retention and performance of employees at EY. The firm ran a global survey within the business to establish the link between engagement and performance – business linkage – by comparing the global engagement survey with the brand favorability index (scores given by clients).

The survey found a clear correlation between the performance of engaged employees and brand favorability, says Cullen. “There was also an 11% difference in the 12 month retention rates between the most engaged and least engaged business units, a gap equating to tens of thousands of pounds. There is a direct link between engagement, retention and what clients think of us – critical to the future growth of the business globally,” he said.

EY engages its employees through various initiatives. Its global orientation program, called Welcome to EY (WTEY), aims to provide a consistent induction experience to all its new hires worldwide. “On their first day all new hires are given details of their counselor and, where possible, introduced to them in person. Counselors will typically be our more senior and experienced people. They are responsible for helping new staff develop performance goals, and for supporting them in their career and personal development,” Cullen said.

The firm ensures that employees receive a globally consistent induction too. “We have developed a 90-day timeline for all new partners that outlines the people they need to meet and the actions they need to take in their first three months in the role, giving holders of this pivotal position a sound starting point for their future success,” Cullen said.

Employees at EY are kept in the loop about the firm’s happenings through the ‘Your EY Daily News’. This is a profiled newsfeed that is delivered to staff inboxes and mobile devices each day. The alert is customized for recipients based on their geography and their service line so that it is as relevant as possible. “The news items can cover anything from the launch of our latest Global People Survey, to trade patterns in rapid-growth markets. It is a great way of giving our people the information they need without them having to read a whole newsletter,” Cullen said.

In tomorrow’s HRM: EY’s approach to flexibility, international business and facing the future.

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