In 2012, I decided to get an MBA. Before leaving to ISB, I worked in a startup – Kuliza. My decision to leave Kuliza was my sole motivation to get a business education. But at the end of that year, ISB made me respect startups like never before, so much so, that at  the time of placements, I thought that if I have to return back to startups, then why not return to Kuliza? I wanted to work in emerging technologies in the digital space and Kuliza was working in the very same domain.

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However as the days went by, some of my fears began to haunt me – firstly, will the management at Kuliza accept my  application? Especially, since I was returning to this organization for the second time. Secondly, how do I justify this return to Kuliza to my parents, friends and peers? With the kind of amazing companies coming to ISB for placements, returning to the company you once worked at could be seen as an inability to get a job anywhere else.

Today, as I look back, I feel all these speculations were truly useless: Why? Kuliza has given me the responsibility to head  their sales and marketing and I believe that joining back this startup in the emerging digital technology space was one of the best  decisions I ever made. As for the ‘justification’ part, I think that some things just cannot be explained. It’s more to do with the  experience. And besides, as you get mature by the days, you get over the need to justify such things to anybody (especially when  you realize you are working in a company that has grown 3 times in the last 2 years)

But this article is little about Kuliza’s growth story and more about the fact that once I returned, I realized that I was not the only one who wanted to return. The guys heading engineering and mobility too had left the company and returned a few months  before I joined back. One of them had left Kuliza to start his own venture while the other to join a funded e-commerce firm. But the interesting part is that both of them decided to return to Kuliza after getting a different work experience.

 And the trend did not stop here.  In the last two years, some of our best folks have returned Kuliza after a stint in another  company, going out for further studies or attempting their own startups. The last time I noticed, the head count was 10 (that  makes up as much as 10% of a company of our size) and just recently it was heard around the corridors that one of our star front  end engineers has decided to return as well! Such episodes instill in us a lot of confidence in our culture and that somewhere  down the line, we are doing something really right. Moreover, if your good employees are consistently returning after a stint  elsewhere, then we’re literally hitting two fruits with one stone. One, that they have returned and two that they either bring with  them new industrial knowledge, added educational experience or the maturity one gains by having started their own company.

All these developments give me food for thought:

  • Employee return rate: Although most companies know their employee attrition rate, should they also try to measure their employee return rate, defined as the % of your total workforce (excluding those who were asked to leave) who have joined back after a stint somewhere else? In a booming job scenario that is today, led by heavily funded companies giving crazy salaries, it is but obvious that a few of your good employees will be tempted to leave. A good employee return rate is thus a good metric to measure how good is your company culture and quality of work – since these will be the prime reasons why somebody will return to you
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  • Openness to leave for value addition: Is it a good idea for companies with a high employee return rate to encourage their employees to go for further studies or start their own companies, even though it means that they will have to leave the company for it?
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  • Tactics to attract capable ex-employees: What are ways / tactics in which organizations can attract their capable ex-employees to increase their employee return rates. Is maintaining a ex-employee database and tracking their career progress, the first step in this direction?

What other factors do you think can build a culture in your organization that attracts the best talent and increases productivity for years to come? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.