“Colleagues for life.” That’s what Deloitte calls their Alumni. Other companies use terms like “boomerang employees,” “alumni” or “comeback colleagues.” A growing number of organizations are understanding the value of maintaining a relationship between employer and employee long after the two have parted with a formal corporate alumni network.
A 2018 LinkedIn study showed that in the previous decade, the US national rate of workplace boomerangs had more than doubled, hitting nearly 3% by the first half of 2018. In some organizations, it’s well into double figures.
World-class organizations need to develop a process that will allow the organization to quickly and easily “re-recruit” alumni with proven track records of success when economic conditions warrant hiring.
Companies that invest in lifelong relationships with their employees consistently outperform organizations that do not and a Corporate Alumni Network is a critical component to manage and engage this community.
Data from across thought leaders, business leaders and organizational best practices highlight the advantages of maintaining an Alumni connection, with 98% of the Fortune 500 having some form of an alumni program.
Why Do Organizations Invest In A Corporate Alumni Network?
Alumni programs allow you to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with former employees who may someday provide significant value again, providing you with an excuse to remain in contact and a mechanism to recruit them back quickly when needed.
While the primary reason organizations develop alumni programs is recruiting-related, lots of research demonstrates that investing in corporate alumni programs increases the sales lead generation and deal closing capability of the organization.
Program Goals and Benefits
A well-designed corporate alumni network can benefit the organization in many ways. Some of the possible goals of corporate alumni programs include:
- To improve the quality of hires by rehiring top performers and innovators (boomerang rehires are low-cost, typically have higher retention rates and reach minimum productivity much more quickly than most external hires).
- To increase the number and the quality of employee referrals by expanding the program to include alumni.
- To strengthen the employer brand image throughout the industry.
- To increase retention rates among current employees by developing a stronger positive image.
- To increase the number of mentors available to current employees.
- To generate direct sales by making alumni customers.
- To increase the number of leads generated (customer referrals).
- To capture ideas and innovations from alumni.
- To get product assessment help.
- To get benchmarking help and to learn about industry best practices.
- To gather competitive intelligence.
- To get help from alumni in building strategic partnerships.
As companies are reimagining their employee experience, recognizing the significant investments they have made in their workforce and exploring technologies to leverage their Alumni, EnterpriseAlumni works alongside our customers to help build an organizational business case.
To drive value for you, your organization and your alumni, here are five ways to build a compelling community:
- Personalization: Give alumni a personalized experience. Chose an intelligent platform that knows who your alumni are, where they are and what they are interested in. Alumni in Australia don’t want to know about drinks parties in France and seminars in Argentina. Former CEOs need a different peer group to former interns. Retirees are not interested in graduate recruitment opportunities.
- Aesthetics: Give alumni a site that looks and feels like the visually impressive, aesthetically pleasing consumer software they are accustomed to. Make sure the design is intuitive, the user experience is effortless and the features and functions are relevant and value add. Gone are the days where clunky old software is acceptable.
- Engagement: At the heart of the platform must be a strategy to engage alumni with relevant content, opportunities, offers, and events. Going live and expecting alumni to come, simply because you feel they have an affiliation with your company, is shortsighted and lackluster. Launching an alumni network is the beginning – not the end – of a process to provide a reason for your alumni to stay active and participate in your community for the long term.
- Authenticity: A corporate alumni network is not an opportunity to share one-way dialogue and content on your organization. Alumni by their very nature have left – and what you may think is interesting news and insights may not be as compelling to people no longer working there as you think. Make sure the content, offers, events, and communications reflect that people have many competing demands on their time and simply sharing corporate news is not a recipe for a successful alumni community!
- Inclusivity: A community is not a community if some of the community are being left out! If you are an organization looking to create an inclusive alumni network, excluding support staff or graduate interns or certain geographies from a network doesn’t send a very positive message. Do start small with an alumni community and find a group or geography or vertical with whom you can test the platform … but don’t have a long term goal of leaving out groups of people who have been a part of your organization’s history.
Due to advances in technology and social networking, the cost of operating alumni programs is low while the ROI of alumni programs is higher than ever. Instead of considering those who leave your firm as value-less, and those who opt to leave as traitors, simply look at departures, not as a goodbye, but rather, as an “I will see you later.”
Hear from companies including KPMG, Coca-Cola, Accenture, SAP, Pearson, P&G and more discuss their Alumni Strategies via the Corporate Alumni Leaders Webinar Series