How To Leverage Alumni For Business Resilience In The Face Of Pandemic

by Alumni Content in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 03rd May 2021

Facilitating and promoting business resilience has never been more critical than it is right now. According to a recent study by Josh Bersin and Kathi Enderes, respectively founder and vice president of research at the Josh Bersin Academy, businesses surviving and even thriving during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis have embraced practices that form the foundation for innovation, agility, and creativity.  

Over the last year, organizations have had to rapidly evolve, adopt new business models, and find new ways to manage people, among other practices.

Of course, when businesses pivot to lean into a set of emerging circumstances, a need for fresh talent often arises to fulfill temporary or emerging skills gaps. This leaves the company with several important decisions to make, a lot of them centered around technology and people management.

Taking leads from the report titled Business Resilience: The Global COVID-19 Pandemic Response Study, we will lay the groundwork on how you can leverage your corporate alumni to help pave the way forward in the face of these unchartered challenges.

Business Agility and Change: Insights From The Bersin Report

According to research from the Bersin report, in support of new talent approaches for new business models, high-performing organizations are:

  • 6 times more likely to rapidly and strategically hire needed talent
  • 4.2 times more likely to leverage contingent and part-time workers
  • 5.5 times more likely to support teams to experiment and learn quickly

It is not difficult to connect the dotted line between your corporate alumni and these agile business practices. Take the correct approach when reaching out to your community, and you will have the support of a network of people who are primed and ready to help you succeed.

Three Ways Your Alumni Can Boost Business Resilience And Drive Operational Performance When the Pressure is On

Business Success Out Of COVID

 1. A Source Of Prime Talent

One of the first responses that many businesses had to the pandemic was to implement hiring freezes. This is a natural move when you want to curb costs and manage overheads.

However, it can also be short-sighted in certain instances because a) it stoppers the talent pipeline, and b) it often means that existing employees are overloaded with new tasks and work.

Other companies had the foresight to use all their talent resources, including corporate alumni networks, to roll out rapid hiring protocols when their businesses burgeoned overnight as consumer needs changed drastically.

For example, the Bersin report highlights how Schneider Electric and Unilever established internal talent marketplaces to rebalance their workforce. Employees were encouraged to apply for new emerging roles within their companies.

Another was Danone. The company trained factory workers located in Mexico via Zoom to take over production changes at the Mexico City factory when specialized engineers could not travel in from overseas.

The point to internalize here is that HR departments have had to think on their feet and ensure rapid and strategic people placement in the face of the pandemic. In this sense, it pays to recognize alumni for the invaluable part they play in the talent pool. You have access to their employment data, and they have prior knowledge of your business. All in all, it is an avenue to skipping the usual recruitment queue and putting the right people in place at a moment’s notice.

2. Members Of Your Contingent Workforce

Contingent Workforce

Does your company count contingent workers, consultants, freelancers, and gig workers among their official workforce portfolio? Up until now, this has not been the case for many businesses. Instead, these ‘guns for hire’ would be roped in as necessary and not really engaged with otherwise.

However, now that workloads have become increasingly uncertain and skills needs are rapidly changing, these freelancers have become pivotal when companies have to scale up and down at the drop of a hat. Job sharing has also emerged as a less drastic alternative to layoffs or extended ‘sabbaticals’ while businesses find their feet.

If you aren’t doing so already, as a forward-thinking business, you need to formalize the way you keep in touch with ‘sometimes’ employees. This extends to retirees who may return to do consultancy work, gig workers that pop in and out, as well as alumni who could potentially be roped in as boomerang hires along the line.

Ultimately, these workers provide the flexibility you need to build business resilience while navigating the extraordinary circumstances we are now operating within.

3. Mentors In The Quest To Reskill and Learn Quickly 

In the face of the pandemic, many existing employees have had to reskill and upskill at very little notice. They have had to learn about new protocols and procedures and adopt new tech tools on the fly.

The importance of ongoing learning has also skyrocketed, with many businesses supplementing formal learning with experiential learning so employees can experiment and learn from their mistakes in a safe zone.

Mentors For Business Recover

In response to the pandemic, and to get their workforce up to speed at a more rapid rate, many businesses have implemented resources like professional mentorship programs. As such, alumni with their newly acquired skills, or retirees with their lifetime of experience, can support this critical endeavor.

Combine this with their existing know-how of the internal business processes and operations, and this network of experts can be pivotal in facilitating the kind of leg-up employees need to expand their knowledge base.

Aside from mentorship programs, this transfer of knowledge can also take place through group coaching, one-on-one sessions, webinars, or fireside chats, among other formats.

Final Thoughts

Business resilience lies at the heart of every agile enterprise. To remain competitive in a harried, changeable market, companies have to adopt new ways of doing this. This includes innovative talent management strategies, rapidly and strategically hiring necessary talent, as well as leveraging contingent and part-time workers.

For more information on how an alumni program can work for you, get in touch with the EnterpriseAlumni team today.