Corporate Alumni ROI Relies on Hi-Potential Alumni

August 13, 2015

The benefits of hiring corporate alumni are well-known: they already understand the organization's culture and work style, and in their time away from the company have most likely gained valuable skills that make them better at their job. Hiring alumni often calls for a less expensive onboarding process, and even if they aren't re-hired, senior level alumni from many professional services firms can potentially become sales channels and / or customers for the firm. 

But there's a problem. Too many corporate alumni programs aren't focused on the right thing: proactively identifying and engaging their high-potential alumni (HPA).

The Challenge of High Potential Alumni Identification

Sure, it's important to stay in touch with corporate alumni. Many are interested in hearing about what has been going on at the company since they left. Others will gladly partake in alumni events, like the Citigroup Alumni Network's Global Community Day.  

But this type of broad outreach alone isn't enough to truly maximize the ROI of your corporate alumni program. We have previously discussed the areas where corporate alumni networks bring a healthy ROI: strengthening the company's brand and reducing hiring expenses, among others.

This return is not dependent on how many emails you send or what types of events you host for alumni: the ROI of your corporate alumni network is determined by your ability to identify and engage high-potential alumni.

It's easy to understand why this is the case when you consider the current workforce landscape. Millennials, workers between ages 18 to 34, now hold the largest share of the American workforce according to Pew and Forbes expects Millennials to account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. This group has shown a willingness to transition between jobs more frequently than previous generations might consider acceptable.

At the same time, company culture is more important than ever before. More than an impressive compensation package or a fancy title, today's workers are looking for employment that challenges and helps them learn and develop. In a time when engagement is in high demand and career changes are commonplace, building strong relationships with employees both during and after their tenure is vital for a successful corporate alumni program.

Creating A Lifelong Partnership

So what's the key to identifying and building relationships with high potential alumni? It is a multifaceted process, but there are three critical steps:

  1. Start by identifying and tracking high-potential employees. At some point, all of your high-potential alumni were employees. Their departure from your firm changes only their relationship with you, not their abilities. It's far easier to create a good relationship with a high-potential individual when they are an employee and continue it after they leave, instead of trying to create the relationship only after they have left the company. Alumni management software that interfaces with HR databases makes this task less challenging.
  1. Communicate with your high-potential employees and reinforce that they have high potential. With the fast pace at which many people switch roles these days, simply identifying high-potential employees is not enough. You will want to strengthen the relationship by letting them know that you value their service and the skills that they have brought to the business.
  1. After their departure, offer high-potential alumni exclusive content and outreach.  It is important that you segment and target your messaging and communications to this group of alumni within your overall alumni population. Perhaps you will create a newsletter or host alumni events specifically for this group. Insala provides powerful, highly customizable alumni management software so that you can easily segment your alumni population and target messages to specific groups. 

Also remember that in today's era of automated emails and newsletter blasts, the value of a personal touch is significant. A simple phone call or lunch invitation to a former employee that is now a high-potential alumnus can work wonders for maintaining a relationship with the best and brightest of your alumni.

Talent management and technology have become a commodity for most organizations, but people management and career development have become strategic imperatives.  According to talent management thought leader Josh Bersin, talent scarcity is still a problem, but engagement, empowerment, and environment are now the most pressing issues companies face.

Extending those principles to your alumni is a very important and cost-effective way to deal with talent scarcity.

Are you charged with managing Alumni relations?

Insala's corporate alumni program can help keep former employees engaged with your brand, lower your recruiting costs, and find people who will quickly make a significant positive impact on your organization.

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