Digital disruptions aside - business is still conducted between people. Human relationships play a significant role in the progression of new business and career building which is why keeping in touch with former colleagues is important. In most companies, however, alumni networks can be difficult to maintain yet they can provide real added value for companies – both large and small.
Alumni are brand ambassadors
Communicating and keeping in touch with former employees after they have moved on can help to promote the employer brand. Employees who leave on good terms are less likely to write negative feedback on platforms such as Glassdoor. It’s also important to remember that former employees act as advocates for the company, meaning that their opinion of the company is usually more impactful to the company reputation than conventional advertising.
A reliable source
A large and lively alumni network enables the company management to fall back on existing expert knowledge. Depending on how intensively the contact with the alumni is maintained, for example, valuable insights can be obtained on current and future projects. Former employees may also become a new customer or partner, depending on where their new employment is. Therefore, it’s important to maintain relationships with not only your current employees, but past ones as well.
A better corporate culture
However, the alumni network is not just about maintaining contact with former employees, it’s also about building a relationship with the current workforce. Alumni events can create a good climate for the current workforce. It lets employees see how alumni are treated and may get them excited about an alumni network if they ever leave the company.
Of course, a network cannot be built overnight. From the moment the employee resigns from the company, their departure needs to be as positive as possible. Not only will this benefit the company’s reputation, but it also may encourage them to join your alumni network. Managers should also be aware of the group their network should target. Should the alumni programme only include managers? Heads of departments? Or maybe even interns? Companies should carefully consider how best to structure their own alumni network to ensure their reputation as a good employer isn’t tarnished.
Introducing or maintaining an alumni network should be a top priority for HR. It requires strategic planning that must be closely aligned with the IT department and management. For example, there should be fixed processes for entering and leaving the alumni network and they should be defined in order to clarify the required responsibilities.
An alumni network is therefore not a short-term project. But in the long term, it's an important employer branding tool that attracts new employees and keeps leavers loyal to the business.
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