Cultivating Company “Alumni”

by Employers Council Staff

Bulletin,  HR Expertise and Support,  Retention

Why are employers establishing processes to maintain ties with their former employees? Why are company “alumni” of value to you? 

Source of Market Knowledge, Intelligence, New Business

Alumni can help their former companies keep up-to-date on new trends, technologies, and investment opportunities. They can share information about competition and new start-ups, since they often continue working in the same field.

Buyers of Products and Services

Former employees know the products and services available from their previous employers and have established relationships with former coworkers. This knowledge can be cultivated so that former employees become customers, referring business from their new firm back to their previous company, since many alumni go to work for clients.

“Brand Ambassadors”

Alumni can sway outside opinions about their former employer by supporting the company’s reputation. They can also drive sales and brand awareness through word-of-mouth. Some alumni networks are being used as test groups for new products and marketing campaigns of their former employer.

Resource for Rehires and Referrals

Rehiring a former employee, whether full-time or on a temporary basis during a period of high demand, costs about half of what it does to hire a brand-new person. Companies know what rehires can do, and they bring additional expertise learned while working elsewhere. Alumni are also a positive source of new hire referrals and, in fact, some companies pay their alumni for such referrals.

What steps are needed to launch an alumni program?

Exit interviews: Communicate the benefits of staying in touch and capture the employee’s future plans and aspirations as well as contact information.

Two-Way Advantage: Ensure former employees see value in participating in the alumni program by outlining the benefits of staying connected to their former colleagues and by offering additional benefits such as discounted pricing on subscriptions, products or services, subsidized or free training programs, and invitations to networking events, conferences, or social gatherings.

Leverage the Web and Digital Technology: Set up a database and a platform on which alumni can interact with each other and current workers. Specific groups of alumni can be targeted for email newsletters, webinars, and blogs so that the content is personalized and relevant. Job postings may be included and targeted to specific alumni profiles.

Participation is key. Getting a large number of alumni to participate is essential. “Refer-a-friend” incentive programs may encourage alumni to enlist others to join the platform.

About the author
Employers Council Staff