Managing an alumni network

Corporate Alumni Programs: Everything You Need to Know

Is a corporate alumni program the right next step for your business? We're here to answer all your alumni questions before you start building your network.

If you’re looking into the benefits of building a corporate alumni network, you are likely facing one of the many challenges companies are experiencing in today's corporate landscape.  

The average time employees are staying at a company is rapidly dropping from previous generations, with the current average employee retention rate being 4.1 years (Bureau of Labour Statistics). You’re probably wondering: what does this mean for your company, your onboarding strategy, and the time you're spending investing in your employees’ professional and personal growth? 

Well, we’re here to tell you that the new employee lifecycle model does not require you to part ways with your employees post offboarding. Yes, you read that right. Your current employees may not stay with your company forever, but if you make the effort to build lifelong relationships with them, your company will profit enormously.  

That’s where corporate alumni networks come into play. Formal alumni networks are one tool which keeps your company alumni in the loop about your organization, initiatives, career opportunities, and of course events and keeping up personal connections.

As you continue to support your employees growth post offboarding, your ex-employees will continue to give back to your company by referring relevant candidates, acting as brand ambassadors and of course you’ll be leaving the door open for employees to boomerang back.  

Building a corporate alumni network acknowledges the changing face of employment, the importance of connections, and the ability to leverage this vast army of former employees to recruit talent and achieve organizational goals.

Table of Contents

What is a Corporate Alumni Program?

Simply put, Corporate Alumni Programs are communities created specifically to enable organizations to maintain a lifelong relationship with their former employees. They are based on two core principles.

The first is functional: as a company, you have invested significant time and money in finding and sourcing the right candidates, investing in their success through compensation, continuous education and retention programs. When an employee leaves, not maintaining a relationship means giving up that massive investment in each individual.

The second reason is more human in nature: recognizing that your network is your net worth. Maintaining relationships with people is beneficial for business, whether for recruiting, sales, business development, brand advocacy, or any other organizational objective.

EnterpriseAlumni powers alumni programs for many of the world's largest and most innovative organizations. Our platform enables these companies to stay in touch with their employees throughout their careers. Leaving a company is no longer seen as disloyal, and by using a software that allows for personalisation, enhanced engagement and analytical features, employees will be more willing to maintain a relationship with your organization.

Alumni Platform dashboard

Why Companies Must Have a Corporate Alumni Program

Following on from the human and functional reasons for a corporate alumni network, you can justify the program as a ‘must have’ by measuring the ROI from the following four pillars: 

  1. Brand Advocacy 
  2. Recruitment 
  3. Sales & Business Development 
  4. Supporting Initiatives 

The final touchpoint with an employee leaving presents the opportunity to ensure they walk out as an advocate for your organization. The value of this is huge. You’re building one big pool of talented individuals (you literally trained them yourselves!), who are familiar with your industry and are in a primary position to support your recruitment efforts, sales and business development, and future organizational initiatives. Think about the mentorship and learning opportunities this allows for.  

To explore more on how a corporate alumni program can support your organization, check out Why Have an Alumni Program by Richard Morrogh, Former Managing Director and alumni network owner at Citibank.   

Community value in the office

Offboarding Process for Corporate Alumni Programs  

So the real question is: how do you make sure your employees don’t just disappear after offboarding? The key is in your offboarding process. Standard procedures such as exit interviews are a great way to set the stage for what the alumni program offers your current and former employees to support them in their future endeavors.  

This report by the Harvard Business Review suggests that “The best offboarding plans are also informed by a company’s mission, vision, and culture. The way that management treats exiting employees sends a clear message about whether the organization lives up to its espoused commitments and values”.

Ensuring your departing employees know you value and appreciate their time at your company will lay the foundations for the future relationship you have with them. By putting brand and personalized elements into your alumni exit process, you’re making sure your former employees have a relevant and informative introduction to your program.  

When engagement starts straight after offboarding, you know your alumni network is set up for success.

How to Effectively Build a Corporate Alumni Network

After you’ve successfully completed the offboarding process and your former employees are signed up to your alumni network, you’re almost there. The only thing left to consider to build an effective alumni network is turning your alumni network into a community. Here are five ways you can do so:  

Encourage Your Alumni To Speak UP

Touching on the more human-centric values of a corporate alumni network, people want to see what their former colleagues are up to. By encouraging your alumni to speak up on the platform more people will engage, and potentially partner or gain value from fellow alumni expertise, leading to the overall success of the network.   

Collaborate with Your Stakeholders

Running an alumni network is not a job for one person alone. Adding touches like a note from the CEO or the head of recruitment shows your employees that the company as a whole is invested in them, not just a half-hearted approach to stay in touch.If you engage alumni or former consultants, you're adding a whole other layer of value for your alumni.  

Create Networking Events for Alumni

Creating opportunities for alumni to reconnect as well as learn and grow will only make your alumni appreciate your organisation even more. A good motivation for this is to connect events to real world going ons, for example in April 2020, “in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Boston Consulting Group invited alumni to a virtual town hall to learn about managing through a global crisis”.  

By doing this you are providing alumni with valuable networking opportunities and helping them open doors for their future.  

Invest in Creating Alumni Content

Stay relevant by taking the time to refresh and bring new and exciting content to the table. Whether you’ve got a new alumni success story you want to share, or you want to discuss the tennis, make sure you have something refreshing and up to date to share. A monthly newsletter is a nice way to share company updates and news as well as reinforce open positions.  

Build a Socially Responsible Alumni Community

Uniting your community over one cause is an amazing way to keep your network connected. Whether it’s taking care of children with disabilities in Tanzania (Bird & Bird Alumni) or a mentorship program, you’ll see great results from getting people involved and showing that you care. 

Recent research shows that employees desire “to work for companies they perceive to be socially and environmentally conscious”, and a socially responsible corporate alumni community is just another step towards boosting your employer brand. 

Office meetings and interviews

Final Thoughts

With the ever changing corporate climate its become increasingly difficult to keep track of the trends, but one thing is for certain. Traditional recruitment methods are no longer working, and alternatives are starting to take place.

If you haven't considered setting up a corporate alumni network in the past, just the benefit of having access to an alumni talent directory should be all the persuasion you need.

For more advice on things to think about before starting your alumni journey, head to our guide on Managing an Alumni Network.

Related Content

Managing an alumni network

What is the Alumni Member Experience?

Sadhana ran the award-winning Barclays Global Alumni programme, created the London Alumni Directors Forum and continues to share Alumni Management...

Read more

Begin Your Journey With Us Now

Build new revenue streams, save on recruitment and enhance your employer brand, all through the power of alumni.