Exit, Alumni: Ciao (for now)!

The 7 Stages of the Employee Lifecycle (Part 3)

The first part of our series of blog articles on the employee lifecycle was about inspiring talent for your company and getting them on board.The second part was about how to retain talent.Now there's just one thing missing: What do you do when the talent wants to leave (e.g. change jobs) or has to leave (e.g. retirement age)? We'll answer that for you now.

Exit and alumni: We say "thank you" and "goodbye".

A certain amount of turnover in a company is normal - and even good. When new talent joins, they always bring a breath of fresh air. As with anything in life, it's about striking the right balance. But even if a termination is linked to not-so-positive causes, you should try to make the best of it. 

Without trying too hard to apply the German saying "You always meet twice in lifetime," employees who leave the company can of course continue to be multipliers for the company afterwards. Or, if things don't go well at all, they can be detractors. 

To prevent this from happening in the first place, you should establish an appreciative exit process as well as an alumni network, which every ex-employee would like to be a part of. 

Station 6: Exit or offboarding

The sixth station of the Employee Lifecycle covers the phase from the official termination to the final departure of an employee from your company. The exit or offboarding process starts from the moment the notice of termination is given verbally or submitted. This process should be equally appreciative for everyone, regardless of the circumstances that led to the termination.

Of course, an exit under negative circumstances is more difficult to handle emotionally, but it is precisely then that professionalism should prevail. If employees have to be terminated or if they terminate themselves, they should act or react with sensitivity. Mutual respect and fairness are essential. Of course, applicable law and ethical values must be upheld at all times. 

Elements of the exit or offboarding process::

  • Termination agreement
  • Employment reference
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Exit interview
  • Handover of work equipment
  • Blocking of access rights
  • Appreciative farewell

And then it's down to practical matters, because there are so many things to organize before the last day dawns. The job reference must be prepared and reviewed by the supervisor and the departing employee. There are usually a few processing loops here. 

The topic of knowledge transfer is very important, because a great deal of experience and knowledge is always lost with a talent's departure. However, if this is passed on and/or documented in good time, the gap left by the employee can be closed more quickly.

Both sides can benefit greatly from an appreciative and honest feedback discussion at eye level. A successful farewell day ensures that employees leave the company with a smile. The last impression in particular has an impact on possible employer evaluations.

Even though the word "exit" looms over this part of the employee lifecycle, the farewell does not mark a real end. After all, the company will always have a place on the ex-employee's resume. For this reason, it pays off if you set up a functioning alumni management system.

Station 7: Alumni

All employees who leave your company continue to actively or passively influence your company's image to the outside world. Either because your company is a clickable link in their LinkedIn profile or because they are multipliers recommending new talent. 

You may be familiar with alumni networks from universities. But even large companies are now successfully building alumni management. And for good reason (see box).

Advantages of alumni management:

  • Network effects (e.g., in the search for new talent) 
  • Enhancement of the employer brand
  • Knowledge and experience remain close at hand
  • Easy possibility of surveys among former employees
  • Offer of "open door" if employees want to return ("boomerang potential")

Good ways to stay in touch with alumni are maintaining an up-to-date database of contact points (e.g. congratulating them on their birthday), company newsletters or even invitations to some company events. Consent to use this data should therefore be obtained from the departing employee at the end of employment. 

The end of the cycle?

Now, of course, one could argue about whether the Employee Lifecycle is actually a circle. After all, each employee usually goes through each phase only once. But there is another way of looking at it: If a top talent comes on board due to an alumni recommendation, it is once again a cycle.

The fact is, however, that the employee lifecycle is also presented as a circle because each phase influences the others. If there is a good external image, recruiting works better. If employees are satisfied in the company and talk about it, this in turn has an effect on the external impact. Conversely, if employees are treated unfairly at any point, other employees may wonder whether they shouldn't leave the company as soon as possible. 

You can design each stage of the employee lifecycle to end with a positive, professional and appreciative experience. Never underestimate the radiant power of experiences. And because rays go in all directions, your efforts will have an impact on many other areas, including employer brand and branding, company culture, and your company's overall reputation.


  • Exit: Regardless of the circumstances that lead to employees leaving the company, an exit should always be designed to be appreciative, professional, and legally and ethically sound.

  • Alumni: Professional alumni management not only has a positive effect on the employer brand. For example, new talent can be found through the network effects. And you never know in which future challenges a benevolent alumni network can make a decisive difference.



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