Workplace culture and Alumni Relations used to be two separate conversations, with neither interacting with each other – one is focused on the retentions of current employees whilst the other is focused on the Alumni as a talent pool.
However, workplace culture lies in the heart of every organization and is rapidly changing, beating into the core of its workforce. It dictates how a company is run and how the organization is perceived, both internally and externally. No two workplace cultures are alike as each organization a has its own cultural DNA. Though the culture of an organization is uniquely its own, companies with positive cultures have one thing in common– empathy.
The workforce of a company is vital to a high performing business and empathy allows strategic leaders to build and shape their company culture with their employees and customers in mind. When considering the role culture plays in employees it’s critical that employers look at the lifecycle of their people in their three phases– recruit, employee, and now extended to alumni relations. The key to building a strong workforce is understanding how culture impacts employees during these stages.
As a Recruit
An employee encounters an organization’s culture the moment they submit their application. From that moment, it’s up to the company to step up and provide a positive candidate experience. How a future employer conducts themselves during the interview phase is the first glimpse of their culture through the eyes of the candidate, and they are taking note. It’s their first introduction to what it would potentially be like to join your team.
Hiring managers can tip the top talent scales in their favor by creating an engaged and thoughtful candidate experience. In fact, candidates that have a positive experience are not only likely to join your ranks, but 78 percent of applicants would refer someone in the future according to a recent study. Organizations that focus on creating a healthy culture begin their hiring process on a positive note. Companies that don’t however, can have a negative impact on their brand and hiring efforts.
A recent national survey found that 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience. Of those job seekers, 72 percent report having shared that experience online on an employer review site, such as Glassdoor, on a social networking site, or directly with a colleague or friend. Negative experiences can halt quality new hires, affecting an organization’s growth. It’s not just about the bad press though. Candidates want to know that you’re genuinely invested in them as it is a sign of what is to come down the line. The influence of workplace culture doesn’t stop there, as it impacts your employees during their tenure.
As an Employee
Employees are the backbone of any organization. Empathetic leaders understand and value the contributions of their employees, which is why job growth, career paths, and employee development play a part in well-developed cultures. During this phase, employee engagement is dependent upon how well the culture is defined. Seeing only 13 percent of employees are engaged in the workplace, this is a real issue for most employers.
Employee engagement isn’t only a moral issue, it impacts the organization’s bottom line. In fact, highly engaged businesses see a 20 percent increase in sales. More to the point, engaged employees mean less turnover, which is also a major concern for today’s employers. When leaders deploy an employee-centric culture, they stave off many business issues that interrupt their operational potential.
Culture has a major impact– but it has to be intentional. In order for a workplace culture to be successful, it has to be present, consistent, and enduring. This means that workplace culture doesn’t stop when an employee leaves, focusing on Alumni relations remains part of the employee cycle.
As an Alumni
Strategic and emotionally intelligent leaders know that an employee’s journey within their organization doesn’t necessarily stop when they exit. Strong Alumni relations with former employees are a valuable and influential resource for several reasons. As such, workplace cultures need to make room for them by way of an alumni network, for example. Your past employees hold the keys on how to improve your organization and are also a great talent pool. When leveraged properly, they can play a strategic role in hiring.
Today’s job seeker does their research, often looking through sites like Glassdoor to get a consensus on a company’s reputation, which is why culture is so important. Employees from high performing cultures will have favorable things to say about your organization. Conversely, alumni from less than stellar workplace cultures can put a sizable dent in an organization’s reputation. An alumni’s impact doesn’t stop there, however. Organizations that make it a point to communicate with alumni, the organization also has the benefit of potentially rehiring previous employees.
Companies that provide a phenomenal workplace culture shouldn’t be surprised if talented alumni make their way back into their workforce. According to a recent survey, 29 percent of respondents said they have returned to a previous employer. An additional 41 percent said they are open to being a “boomerang” employee in the future. Alumni employees already know how your organization works, so it could save the company time and money in terms of onboarding and productivity.
No matter how you look at it, culture plays an integral part in building a phenomenal workforce, and it all starts with empathy. Today’s candidates want to feel valued at the start of recruitment, during their employment, and in their alumni phase. Investing in developing a great culture has many benefits for employers too– especially when it comes to rehiring top talent. That said, it starts with learning and understanding the phases of the employee lifecycle. Build a culture around all aspects of your employees and reap the results by extending this to include Alumni relations.