Why Alumni Programs are Critical to the Future Success of Your Organization
Often times people forget about alumni relations and management when discussing employee engagement. In fact, one study estimated that only 8% of the companies in the Fortune 1,000 have some form of alumni program. Just because an employee leaves the company does not mean that relationship should come to a grinding halt. There are many benefits for the companies and the ex-employees to continuously nurture their relationship in active alumni engagement platforms.
"There is a value in maintaining a relationship with [your ex-employees]. Leaving is inevitable and these people should remain as part of the community." - James Sinclair, Enterprise Alumni, on the WWP podcast #17
What’s in it for the employers?
Ex-employees should be seen as an inventory of brand ambassadors, potential clients, and future business partners. An employee’s opinion of an organization is very important for company culture and employer brand. Actively engaged alumni act as brand ambassadors - studies have found that advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a source of reliable information. Your alumni can help generate business-to-business leads. Alumni often stay in the same industry and hence, maintaining communication and relationships with alumni can produce new business opportunities and partnerships.
Moreover, the alumni pool also acts as a talent treasure trove. According to a study by Glassdoor, nearly 40% of respondents would consider being rehired by a former employer. Rehiring ex-employees also help organizations save money - the time and effort to recruit and train to full productivity is less with past employees compared to new candidates.
Simply put, the offboarding and post employment experience is very important in how ex-employees view your company, and they may influence your organization's future business deals and recruiting efforts. (For creating a positive employee experience during offboarding, check out our Working with People podcast episode with John Vasellina).
What’s in it for the ex-employees?
While legacy can definitely be a reason for employees to stay connected with the company, successful alumni programs need additional incentives to keep ex-employees engaged. Incentives such as career advancement (via networking and job postings) and discounts on products and services can help ensure that your alumni network is as engaged as possible.
How to establish an alumni network
Like any relationship, communication is the foundation for engaging your alumni network.
The first step is to ask and record the ex-employee's external/personal email. The second step is to ensure that you are providing consistent communication to engage alumni. This might be via a quarterly newsletter. In our WWP podcast episode #17, James Sinclair also suggests surveying previous employees about what they wish they had when they were there. This can be great to expand your organization’s access to information, which can lead to insight into new business initiatives, but also helps support your brand by showing your ex-employees that you care about employee experience and work culture.
Does your organization have an alumni network? Let us know!