It is inevitable that employees are going to leave your organization. It isn’t necessarily negative, as some turnover can be healthy and change is inevitable. The question though is how do you treat employees who transition out of your organization? Do you keep in touch with them, or do you part ways indefinitely? If you strive to develop and sustain a top employer brand, we strongly encourage you to consider your past employees or ‘alumni’ as powerful influencers and potential ambassadors of your brand.
Please find below 5 ways your organization can engage alumni in your employer branding strategy.
1. The Transition Process
What is the transition experience like at your organization? Do employees quickly go from ‘family’ to ‘stranger’, or even ‘enemy’ the minute they submit their resignation letter? We strongly encourage you, if you haven’t already, to assess how employees are treated when they leave the company. What is the last message you want them to depart with, and share with their friends and new employer? If the exit process is unpleasant for employees then you have potentially lost a future ambassador of your company. Furthermore, if the employee still has friends at the company, and they most likely do, this can further contribute to low employee engagement. Treat your employees well when they leave your organization and they will most likely speak well of you and your company to friends and family.
2. Exit Interviews
As part of the transition process, most companies conduct an exit interview. What type of questions do you ask departing employees? Build in questions about your employer brand so that you gain insight on how your company is perceived. Learn if there are gaps in the employment life cycle and your employee value proposition. Although the insight garnered from exit interviews is sometimes questioned, we believe that if structured properly, and acted upon, exiting employees can and will provide valuable cultural information and build upon trust in the organization.
3. Referral Program
Most organizations pay employees a referral fee for new hires, but how many companies reach out to their alumni for referrals? If your transition process is a positive experience for departing employees then they are more likely to refer great candidates to your organization. Alumni understand your value proposition, your culture and the ideal long term fit and are an often untapped source of tremendous sourcing power. One of our clients recognizes alumni for referrals by sending them a thank you note and a loaded VISA card. A thank you note and small token of appreciation for referrals will go a long way with your alumni and they will once again perceive your employer brand favourably.
4. Keeping in touch.
Perhaps you lost some great employees because they wanted to try a different industry or they moved. Great talent is hard to find so make sure that you keep in touch with those individuals. Longer term strategic partnerships, client relationships and rehires are often results of maintaining contact with your Alumni. Colleges and Universities figured this out long ago and now recognize Alumni as one of their largest sources of revenue generation annually. As an example of a great practice, one of our clients sends out a semi annual online newsletter to their alumni letting them know what is happening in the company, asking for referrals etc.
5. Ask for their feedback.
Your alumni is a critical external stakeholder of your employer brand and are either actively promoting or detracting from your message. Ensure you regularly check in with them to assess their perception of your brand. Alumni can provide an outside perspective of your employer brand differentiators as they are most likely working for another company. If employers are just starting their employer branding journey, we strongly encourage them to consider their alumni when soliciting feedback on their Employee Value Proposition.
It doesn’t take much to develop a positive and sustainable relationship with the employees that have transitioned out of your company. Your internal employees will observe and respect you for it, and your alumni will reward you for it in kind. Treat your departing employees like partners and they will act like partners. Alumni can and do have a significant impact on your employer brand, corporate culture, revenue, and net promoter score – is this a missed opportunity for your organization or are you proud of the way your programs are aligned with past employees?