In 2015, Millennials overtook Generation X as the largest generation in the workforce.
This development changed corporate focus from meeting the needs of their Generation X workers to understanding the expectations of Millennials. While attracting and retaining a new generation of employees is critical, there have been unintended consequences of this change in focus: the skills and talents of current and former Generation X staff members are being almost entirely overlooked.
Generation X workers – particularly individuals who are no longer with the company – represent an untapped resource of inside company knowledge, outside experience and professional connections. Organizations that maximize relationships with corporate alumni enjoy high-quality talent for consulting and project-based work, a deeper understanding of the company’s strengths and opportunities from an outside perspective, better customer referrals and vocal employer brand ambassadors.
Unlocking the potential of this untapped resource doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. The most innovative organizations are leveraging the power of social “tribes” to make the critical connections with alumni.
The Power of Social Tribes
During their pivotal career-launching years, Generation X was in a unique position, socially. The previous community linchpins — church, neighborhood and family – had a diminished role as compared to the experience of previous generations. However, this was before the explosion of social networking that drives Millennial community.
Instead, Generation X-ers developed “urban tribes,” a term coined by French sociologist Michel Maffesoli, which allowed them to create their own small communities made up of close friends with similar experiences, interests and world-views. Some of the most memorable representations of urban tribes were the wildly popular television sit-coms Friends and Seinfeld.
Today, the inclination towards tribalism continues to be strong, though much of it has relocated to online communities. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow groups of individuals with similar interests and experiences to connect and network. While there are large communities of corporate alumni on these and other sites, they tend to exist without any connection to or input from the former employer.
The primary drawback to these alumni communities is that employers don’t gain the benefits available from alumni networks and alumni cannot enjoy any potential opportunities available from the organization. In addition, these forums cannot be customized based on individual interests and skills. For example, IT alumni are often in the same online groups as salespeople. Any interaction the company has with the group must apply to both. Contextual technology makes it possible to create one-on-one relationships with alumni, connecting former employees with the content and opportunities that interest them most.
Encouraging Corporate Alumni Tribes
There was a time when resumes had just one or two entries. Employees stayed with the same organization for decades, and moving from company to company was the mark of a poor worker. Today, job-hopping is the new normal. While Baby Boomers stayed with their employers for 40 years or more, Generation X averaged two job changes in the ten years after college graduation. Millennials have doubled that, with an average of four job changes before the age of 32.
Fortunately, most leave their companies on good terms, as they are in search of more development opportunities, better pay and/or a promotion. They have positive things to say about their former employers, and it is common for them to “boomerang,” or return to organizations they worked for in the past, armed with new ideas and stronger skills. Alumni remain connected with former colleagues through social networks, both to each other as individuals and as part of larger alumni tribes. It is just a small step from these informal tribes to alumni communities that are connected with the company.
Smart leaders are encouraging corporate alumni tribes by creating opportunities to bring alumni together. They sponsor groups, facilitate networking, share information and reward participation. By encouraging connections, these employers stay top-of-mind with former staff members, which means more interest when regular positions or contract work becomes available.
The world’s largest organizations are harnessing the power of alumni and retirees with EnterpriseAlumni. This market leading technology offers a customizable corporate alumni platform that makes managing alumni and retiree relationships simple. The platform integrates with existing HR software to maintain up-to-date contact information and facilitate communications between the company and its former employees. Most important, EnterpriseAlumni gives recruiters a head start in filling job vacancies and positions.
Explore a comprehensive selection of relationship-enhancing features, including content, alumni discounts, company events, learning opportunities, and more at EnterpriseAlumni.com.