Alumni Relations: A Cultural Magnet for High-Potentials

September 24, 2015

The current generation of high potential employees doesn't expect to stay at a position forever. When evaluating a prospective role or employer, workers are already thinking about how the skills and experience they will gain there will help them later in their careers.

The most desirable corporate cultures are ones that emphasize learning and mobility, not keeping their employees forever. As Josh Bersin points out in a recent article, companies now need to concern themselves with becoming "irresistible," viewing employees as consumers who are free to leave whenever they wish.

This shift away from the old thinking poses a challenge for HR professionals and alumni managers: how can an alumni program help create a culture that embraces the new tenets of attracting talent?

Embracing Transparency in Corporate Culture

Organizations today must adopt transparency into their corporate culture. Embracing career mobility and development might make it easier for an employee to move past their current role, but that is exactly what is required to create loyalty among top performers.

Employees today are attracted to a company in large part based on its ability to develop their personal brand: improve their skills and knowledge, and broaden their network.

The realities of today's business environment are no longer a secret:

  • Companies don't want to pay large salaries to older employees. They want to hire the next generation of talent.
  • Managers suffocate top employees by focusing too much on retaining them. This puts a strain on the relationship, because employees are focused on their own development not on staying at a company forever.
  • Career development is about teaching people how to network, learn, and grow their skills for their lifelong career, not a lifelong career with one company.

In light of these realities, HRs best approach for attracting top talent is creating a culture that strives to develop people, not retain them.

Alumni Programs as a Tool for Transparency

Alumni engagement is an important conduit for attracting top talent to an organization. Corporate alumni should not be viewed as employees who just didn't work out or fit in. Alumni should be considered assets, an idea that The Economist explains further in a recent article.

To achieve this type of engagement, alumni programs and HR departments need to become transparent organizations that facilitate talent mobility and support. Be honest and upfront about your work environment and why your organization wants to hire an employee, whether it is an alumnus or a new hire.

Global consulting firm McKinsey takes this exact approach with their alumni program. Instead of telling employees and prospective hires that they want to keep them forever, the company freely admits on their website that they understand and accept the fact that their employees will leave.

McKinsey has shifted the conversation: instead of positioning their alumni network as an afterthought, they have turned it into a valuable selling point that attracts people to the company. By embracing transparency and providing alumni with resources that help them on their path to development, they have made the organization more desirable. McKinsey reaps simultaneous benefits: they develop an alumni network of ambassadors that advocate for the brand, offer business development opportunities, and drastically reduce talent acquisition costs.

For more information about how Insala's AlumniPro software can help your alumni program embrace transparency and development, download the AlumniPro Executive Overview using the link below.

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