The former Managing Director in Citibank’s Corporate and Investment Bank shares his experiences building the company’s EMEA alumni program.Read more
Alumni Database: The Organization's Most Tactical Tool
The alumni database has evolved from an excel spreadsheet with incomplete data into a high performing engagement tool to drive recruitment and sales.
In the beginning, the alumni database was essentially a form created as a means to keep in contact with former employees. Typically no more than an excel spreadsheet chock full of names, numbers, and the occasional slew of employee photos. The alumni database was a means to an end, the proverbial check in the box. For some companies, they distributed this master list across all Alumni as an annual book, with any updates required to be sent via email (or fax!)
A recent migration reminded us how difficult it had become, as we came across a spreadsheet with the filename: Alumni_List_Master_Final_Final_7.xls
As many organizations are finding out, that was then and it worked, but this is now. Today’s employee population– equipped with the fruits of the vast technological improvements born in the last decade of the workplace– have come to require and expect a new, more robust employee experience that rises to the occasion.
This employee experience further extends to after an employee leaves the organization, thus the needed evolution of the alumni database. Employers that fail to understand the necessity of a high functioning alumni ecosystem risk losing high performers, which can spell trouble for an organization’s productivity and engagement – both of which are major financial indicators. Let’s take a look at how the current alumni database came to be while unearthing the hidden financial potential it possesses.
From Alumni Database to Ecosystem
As mentioned earlier, the humble beginnings of the alumni database can be likened to that of a spreadsheet used to maintain contact information on former employees. These legacy alumni platforms did little in terms of functionality for organizations. However, in today’s ambitious workforce, organizations that are looking to make a lasting impact have to identify and hone in on every functional asset their company has to offer, lest they lose out on much-needed employees to their competitors.
Legacy alumni platforms were the status quo until visionary companies like Mckinsey started looking at methods to leverage their alumni data to engage their departed employees. Presently their alumni organization, which is accessible to current and former employees, acts as a resource in which past and present employees can engage with one another, enabling the firm to have a lasting impact through the companies and organization their alumni create and work for after their tenure at Mckinsey. Innovative companies that are looking to get an edge in operations have to see the value alumni platforms provide. This is especially true when organizations are engaging with high performers, as top talent know their worth to organizations understanding that top talent is a commodity that businesses are always vying for.
Building an Alumni Database to Engage High Performers
High performing employees want to join an innovative organization. Creating a thriving alumni community that boosts employer value proposition stems from leveraging the data extracted from your alumni database. When strategically analyzed, companies can realize the multi-potentiality their alumni ecosystem possesses. One example in particular that comes to mind would be Mckinsey leveraging their alumni database as a means to recruit graduating students making their way into the workforce. “We will talk about not just the great training you’ll get and the great problems you’ll work on and the wonderful clients you’ll work with, but also the fact that the firm does celebrate those lifelong connections and how we keep our alumni connected,” said Sean Brown, the global director of alumni relations at McKinsey & Company. This is only one of many values alumni platforms provide to an organization when managed properly. With the new and improved alumni demands being slightly unrecognized in many organizations that stand to benefit, it’s important to recognize the financial aspects an alumni community can impact.
What’s at Stake
Rebooting a legacy alumni platform isn’t simply a ‘nice to have’, but a crucial upgrade for organizations to remain competitive on all cylinders of their business. Let’s look at it from an employee’s perspective. An alumni community is an investment that current and former employees can use and appreciate. It’s been well documented that employers who invest in their employees are likely to experience higher productivity levels, as much as 37 percent. It’s also important to understand how productivity correlates to revenue, as a recent study in HBR found that firms with high employee satisfaction outperform their peers by 2.3% to 3.8% per year in long-run stock returns. It’s no coincidence either, as the same study found that it’s employee satisfaction that causes good performance, rather than good performance which shows that employers have to be cognizant of their employees’ satisfaction. Alumni ecosystems pave the way to greater engagement, performance, and productivity from several vantage points.
A Financial and Strategic Function
Organizations have to start looking at their alumni database as a strategic tool that can have positive financial ramifications when its data is leveraged properly. In fact, alumni communities can bear financial fruit, directly correlating with satisfaction, productivity, and revenue for innovative organizations. Actualizing these benefits is the difference between synthesizing the data and having the insight to build a platform that meets your organization’s needs, as opposed to trying to get by on a WordPress website or an excel spreadsheet. That’s why forward-thinking companies need a forward-thinking tech to transform ideas into realities. Investing in evolving your legacy alumni platform is the next step in revolutionizing your business.