Why Corporate Alumni Are Integral Players In Employee Development

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 14th July 2020

In planning for future business advancement, organizations must look to their most valuable assets: their employees. The investment has already been made into hiring, onboarding, and getting them working to organizational standards, the next challenge is to develop this talent to ensure that they support its future goals.

Done right, this is more valuable than repeating the process with newly hired talent, even though additional time, financing, and effort is also required for employee development. Organizations can avoid repeating the potentially costly and lengthy process of sourcing and hiring candidates. They can preserve some of the capital investments already made, as well as build onto organizational culture rather than start again from scratch.

Alumni can be key players in supporting an organization’s employee development strategy. A correctly managed alumni program provides the business with access to potential mentors, coaches, and brand advocates who can be called upon to support the process.

Employee Development: What It Is and What It’s Not

According to SHRM, employee development is largely recognized as a strategic tool to support an organization’s continued growth, productivity, and retention of valuable employees. It’s a strategy that works to improve, refine, and enhance individuals’ existing skills, as well as develop new ones that align with the business’ objectives.

It’s not only about developing L&D strategies for the organization, though. It’s also more than compulsory training for employees. In reality, it extends beyond regular annual reviews that discuss performance, improvement requirements, or shortcomings.

In the grand scheme of things, although there’s a required investment, this will pay off in the long run. The efforts the organization takes can result in longer-term employee retention, and importantly, in closing or reducing its skills gaps.

Employee Development Strategy

A Solution For Closing The Skills Gap

Planning for growth and projecting future needs to support business evolution requires organizations to evaluate their talent requirements. You can have a great product or service, but employees ultimately drive the desired business outcomes.

They chase organization objectives, they sell, they make key industry connections, and, they give the organization an edge over its competitors.

However, there’s a problem. According to a McKinsey global survey on future workforce requirements, approximately nine in ten managers and executives admit that their organization currently faces or expects skills gaps to develop in the next five years. Data from the report implies that, so far, they have taken steps to tackle this, firstly by hiring and secondly by skill-building.

Hiring is, of course, unavoidable in certain circumstances. In which case, organizations should turn to their alumni team as well to source boomerangs or qualified referrals rather than taking to a blank drawing board.

Depending on the urgency and nature of the skills requirements, business sense dictates that organizations should promote or upskill internally. This approach lays the odds in its favor in that these contribute to career growth, which, in turn, leads to a more satisfied workforce.

In terms of workforce retention, the case for supporting employee development is strong. Statistics show that:

·        A lack of career growth opportunity comes in second to low pay as the top reasons for employees to quit their jobs.

·        94% of employees say they would stay longer at a company if it invested in their career

It makes sense for organizations to incorporate alumni into their employee development strategy. Alumni have partly advanced their careers within the walls of the business. They know the inner workings of the enterprise as well as its culture. They are familiar with what it takes to be successful inside it.

Why Alumni Are Integral Players For Employee Development

Corporate Development

1. They Are Motivated To Participate

It’s important to understand that alumni who participate in development programs are motivated to do so. An effective alumni program actively drives engagement, adding value for them personally by providing their own career opportunities, motivators, or rewards. It’s simply up to the alumni team to make contact or put out the right messaging to garner interest.  

2. They Are An Army Of Coaches

Coaching typically consists of a series of focused sessions designed to meet specific goals such as develop skill sets. Through the organization’s alumni program, it can source suitably qualified coaches to impart knowledge onto employees quickly.

Although the employee’s direct manager can be a suitable coach, adding alumni to this pool can bring in the added experience and knowledge they have gained while working outside of the business. This can fill in some of the skills gaps we have mentioned, as well as give the employee fresh perspectives from experienced individuals.

3. They Are Mentors

Mentors take on a longer commitment to the relationship, focusing on the bigger picture advancement of the mentee. They are present and available figures who are valuable for the more holistic relationship involved in mentorship, which looks at work-life balance in addition to professional career growth.

Alumni have already made a commitment to the business relationship when they signed up to the program, and can provide ongoing, long-term mentorship advice from experience. Their insider knowledge helps employees apply what they gain into facets of their life, professionally and personally.

4. They Are Brand Advocates

The theory is, anyone who signs up for your alumni program, by default, has to hold some form of interest in the organization. If the alumni team plays their cards right, this could easily result in former employees becoming brand advocates. 

For employee development, it’s important that they feel motivated to grow with the business and invest their skills and experience into it. Brand perception plays into this, as why invest any of yourself into a source where it won’t be returned. Employees will check review sites and alumni ratings before committing themselves fully.

Coaching and Mentorship

Nurturing Talent For The Future

Leveraging your alumni as mentors, coaches, and brand ambassadors to support your current employee development can be a rewarding relationship for everyone involved. The investment can lead to more driven business outcomes as talent is engaged and aligned with future goals.

As your part of your ongoing talent relationship management strategy, sign your employees up to your alumni program as early as onboarding. This signifies that you are willing to invest in them for the long-term, beyond the point when they become alumni themselves.

To learn more about how EnterpriseAlumni is enabling the world’s organizations to manage and engage their former employees to drive business outcomes, please get in touch.