These days the concept of staying at one job and climbing the corporate ladder seems foreign to most employees. A lot has changed in the digital age, and more often than not advancing a career involves jumping ship as opportunities arise. However, forward-thinking businesses are adapting by making sure they stay connected to alumni long after they’ve moved on, and it’s a strategy that has the potential to pay off in a big way for everyone involved.
What Is a Corporate Alumni Program?
Any program that seeks to keep former employees connected to your business qualifies, and how you structure it is entirely up to you. It could be something as simple as a newsletter, or utilizing social groups on networks like Facebook or LinkedIn. Many companies go further, offering previous employees access to exclusive resources, discounts and workshops.
What’s important is making sure your most valuable employees feel like a part of the family, even after they’ve moved on. The benefits are great enough that a small, continuous investment is well worth it, but the alumni network remains largely untapped despite the advantages these programs can offer for all types of companies.
What Are the Benefits of Alumni Programs?
Corporate alumni are a valuable asset to your business in a multitude of ways. As they go on to experience success in their careers, they’ll always see their relationship with your company as a major component of their development.
The most obvious example is when someone comes back to your company after a stint somewhere else. Not only are they an easy hire, as a person who already understands the inner-workings of your business and culture, but they’re returning with valuable experience. These boomerang employees are essentially top workers who have been sent away for extensive training on someone else’s dime, which sounds like a good deal to me.
Even employees who never come back can bring great value to your business. If they go on to work with another company in a related field, you benefit from a strong relationship with that business, and may find yourself working with your alumni on a daily basis even while they’re employed somewhere else.
Finally, the value of a loyal brand ambassador can’t be understated. Employees who take pride in their work for your business are some of your best assets when it comes to picking up new clients and customers, and there is no reason this has to stop the moment they’re out the door. As long as your relationship remains positive, your alumni will tout the virtues of your products and services for as long as you stay connected.
What Other Companies Are Doing?
Many leading companies have extensive corporate alumni programs, and will do whatever it takes to ensure that relationships with previous employees remain engaging and mutually beneficial.
Microsoft has an extensive alumni program offering educational opportunities and rewards to previous employees. Not only do alumni qualify for discounts on Microsoft products and those of their partners, but business owners in the alumni program offer the same discounts through their own companies. With over 48,000 members, Microsoft’s robust alumni program keeps not only employees, but businesses connected.
Nestle’s alumni program keeps former employees connected on their own website, offering them the chance to stay in touch with coworkers and remain a part of their networks. The site has a particular focus on career advancement and employment opportunities, ensuring that alumni are aware of positions that might be available to them, and that they think of Nestle first the next time they’re looking for a new position.
The most successful alumni program of all might be that of Boston Consulting Group. Their alumni website is full of stories about successful relationships with alumni businesses, and employees who returned to the company. Greg Boison left BCG for fifteen years, but he’s now a partner and associate director with the firm, and a great example of a successful alumni program.
How Your Business Can Capitalize?
Development, brand awareness and recruitment are already three of the main objectives of your business. These things probably make up a significant part of your operating expenses, but alumni will do some of that work for you if you simply keep in touch.
Most companies discount the fact that people no longer stay in the same job forever, making the employees of today the customers and networkers of tomorrow. When you understand the benefits of keeping previous employees engaged with your company, alumni programs are a worthwhile investment. The best part is that these programs can be very easy to manage, and the potential return on your investment is enormous.