Increase Your Human Capital
an Alumni Network
by Christina Morfeld
Unfortunately, and despite your best efforts, you will undoubtedly lose
strong performers now and then. Whether you are forced to release them during
a downsizing or they leave to explore other opportunities, their corporate
knowledge - and your financial investment in developing it - walks out the
door with them.
As the concept of "lifetime employment" becomes obsolete, many organizations
are finding that they have more former employees than current
ones. They are also beginning to recognize the bottom-line benefits of cultivating
ongoing relationships with their "alumni." These include:
- Pool of pre-qualified candidates. Given the right timing and circumstances,
many individuals would welcome the opportunity to rejoin a previous employer.
Even those who are reluctant to accept a "permanent" position may be interested
in providing their expertise on a contract basis. Their documented work
history takes much of the guesswork out of the selection process, and their
direct experience with your company's operations will generally get them
"up to speed" more quickly than an outside hire. Additionally, any interim
employment will give them a fresh perspective, enhancing their creative
and problem-solving abilities.
- Employee referrals. Because they understand your firm's culture
and requirements, individuals recommended for employment by former staff
members will, in all likelihood, be relatively "good fits." This, coupled
with "boomerang" employees who eventually return to your organization, can
substantially reduce overall recruitment costs. (Hint: If you have an Employee
Referral Awards Program in place, be sure to offer alumni the same financial
incentives as internal staff.)
- Business expansion. New professional relationships formed by
your alumni may represent significant sales and/or strategic partnership
opportunities for your firm.
- Market intelligence. Former employees can help you stay abreast
of trends, technologies, the competitive environment, and public perceptions
of your company.
- Advocates and ambassadors. Your alumni have the ability to influence
outside opinion of your firm due to their past affiliation with you. For
many organizations, this can mean thousands of individuals sharing their
first-hand views - whether favorable or unfavorable!
- Enhanced morale. The fact that you stay in touch with former
employees sends a very positive message to your current workforce. It demonstrates
that the company values their contributions and supports them even if their
career pursuits lead them elsewhere. While this might seem counter-intuitive,
it sets the tone for a relationship based on mutual respect and partnership
- one that strengthens employee commitment.
That's quite a compelling business case for keeping the lines of communication
How you choose to go about this depends upon a number of factors, including
your company's size, culture, and budgetary and staff resources. The initiative
can be as simple as sending former employees corporate newsletters or as comprehensive
as establishing an online community ("alumni network") through which they
can access valuable resources and interact with the company and one another.
While the latter approach is obviously more costly, the rewards can be
much richer. Your interest in the ongoing success of former employees fosters
a desire to reciprocate, and the fact that the infrastructure supports
multi-directional communication makes it easy for them to do so.
The importance of mutual benefit cannot be overstated, as only
then will you generate enough registrations and return visits to justify
A dynamic website that includes a searchable directory of former employees,
company and alumni news, job leads, business and career management information
and tools, and discussion boards will keep visitors engaged and - most importantly
- eager to remain an active and contributing member of your corporate family!
Christina Morfeld is president of Affinity Business Communications, a provider
of high-quality instructional design, technical writing, and content development
solutions. Whether writing to instruct, inform, or persuade, our work is reader-focused,
benefits-oriented, and results-driven. Contact us at 203-445-9964 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit our website at http://www.affinitybizcomm.com
to learn how we can increase your firm's sales and effectiveness!
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