5 Ways to Encourage Former Employees to Join a Corporate Alumni Network
That first step from employee to alumni is a critical one. Seamlessly integrating your systems is one option, but there are other ways to encourage alumni to join that are effective if they have already left the organization.
Did you know that all employees in the United States change jobs on average every 4.2 years, and that each generation is moving around? Research also shows that building long-term relationships with employees is mutually beneficial to both your company and your alumni.
Growing a community is always challenging, but we do know that employees are always leaving organizations, which provides a natural feeder right into an alumni program. In order to make that a very simple and smooth process here are five ways to ensure that everyone joins the corporate alumni program.
1. Overhaul the Offboarding and Exit Process
A recent study conducted by Gallup revealed that only 45% of employees are satisfied with how their organization handled the exit process, and only 24% were extremely satisfied. Why does this matter? The same study showed that employees who have a positive exit experience are nearly three times more likely to recommend that organization to others. They are also more likely to join that company’s corporate alumni program.
To ensure the exit process is one that will make alumni network membership appealing, outline the processes and actions HR must take in the final two weeks of the employee’s tenure. Go above and beyond to make the offboarding process as important as your onboarding. Prepare the appropriate interviews, surveys, and information gathering well in advance, and consider creating welcome materials and thank-you notes for when the employee does join the program.
Another important action is to integrate your Human Resources Information System (HRIS) to the corporate alumni network and CRM. This will allow you to create an automated approach for transitioning employees to alumni status and keeping in contact with them as time passes.
2. Build the Corporate Alumni Program into the Employee Experience Early
It shouldn’t be news on someone’s last day that the company offers a corporate alumni program. During an employee’s tenure they should be made aware that this program not only exists, but that they can join it during employment, use it as a resource, and engage with a whole network of company employees & alumni. In our 2022 research, we found that nearly half of organizations with corporate alumni programs promote them in recruitment and in onboarding, and more than half include employees into the program.
It is important to create a culture of support right from the beginning and promote the program as something they can look forward to. It sends a strong signal that they will always be a part of something no matter where their career takes them (including coming back someday).
3. Provide Career Development Opportunities
Another way to encourage alumni to join the program is by having a section on the platform dedicated to job openings and career development. A job board that offers short-term, contract, or full-time work opportunities is highly valuable to alumni. It’s also a great place to share open positions at your company, which may inspire alumni to boomerang back into more senior roles. Many corporate alumni networks also offer enrichment opportunities for its members to learn new skills, and some also include mentorship pairings. Law firms traditionally provide information on information on CLE (Continuing Legal Education) as one example.
4. Offer Ways to Give Back for Social Impact
Companies like Procter & Gamble and Microsoft use their corporate alumni networks to provide philanthropic and volunteer opportunities that allow members to participate in causes important to them. Google’s alumni network, Xoogler.co, also includes connections with angel investors and venture capitalists for those former employees starting their own businesses.
Some alumni programs connect their volunteering initiatives, offer nonprofit grants, and matching donation programs. Another option is to connect the alumni network to your Employee Resource Group to strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts.
5. Offer Exclusive Access or Perks
Offering certain member benefits in the form of discounts and perks is also one enticing way to get people to join a corporate alumni program. Microsoft offers alumni a free year of Microsoft 365, and Starbucks gives new members a $5 gift card for joining. Companies can offer deals for restaurants, travel, entertainment, and more depending on their industry, mission, and values.
Each of these ideas speaks to a different motivation of why an alumni participates in a corporate alumni program. Inside of these communities you will find many different kinds of people with differing skill sets and experiences that all have your company in common. Speaking to those motivations and engaging them based on their interests are all great ways to see your program grow and be effective.