Framework: Benefitting from ‘boomerangs’ – Re-engaging alumni to enrich your talent pool
- 6 Min Read
From initial groundwork to long-term relationship management, this framework addresses every aspect of reconnection with former employees. Employing this roadmap will enrich your talent pool, reduce rehiring costs, and contribute to overall organizational agility.
In an increasingly competitive talent landscape, reconnecting with former employees and alumni—often referred to as “boomerang” employees—presents a unique strategic advantage for companies. These individuals not only understand your organizational culture but can also contribute immediately, cutting down on onboarding time and costs. This framework guides HR professionals through five detailed considerations to effectively reconnect with these valuable assets.
1. Laying the groundwork for reconnection with alumni
What preparations are necessary for effective reconnection with former employees? Conduct an internal audit to understand your organizational readiness for reconnecting with former employees. McKinsey & Company, for instance, has a dedicated alumni portal that provides valuable resources, while events promote networking and knowledge sharing. A testament to their ongoing engagement is the “McKinsey Quarterly” newsletter, which disseminates key business insights to former consultants.
- Needs assessment: Understand what your organization aims to achieve by reconnecting with former employees.
- Resource allocation: Dedicate specific resources, whether it’s manpower or budget, to make reconnection efforts effective.
- Stakeholders to engage: Identify who in the organization will be responsible for executing the reconnection strategy. This could include HR managers, department heads, and communication specialists.
- Industry examples: Companies like Microsoft and Deloitte have robust alumni networks and strategies for reconnecting with former employees.
- Policy review: Examine existing HR policies to identify any obstacles or enablers to reconnection efforts.
- Legalities: Make sure to consult legal teams to ensure that outreach programs comply with employment laws and data protection regulations.
The next layer
After the initial preparations, keep the momentum going. The HR team should consider setting up periodic review sessions to evaluate the effectiveness of the reconnection strategy. Keep track of metrics such as engagement levels, response rates, and successful rehires to make data-driven adjustments.
2. Effective communication and outreach to alumni
How do we best communicate with our former employees? Develop a comprehensive communication strategy that’s tailored to various segments of your alumni network. For instance, Google’s approach to engaging with “Xooglers” (former Google employees) underscores the value of nurturing alumni relationships in the tech realm. Their outreach often includes alumni newsletters, which not only apprise former Googlers of current company undertakings but also spotlight the accomplishments of these alumni in their post-Google ventures.
- Segmentation: Divide your alumni network into different segments based on career stages, interests, or departments they were in.
- Personalization: Personalize the content and medium of communication to suit the preferences of different alumni groups.
- Stakeholders to engage: Involve communication teams, alumni relations managers, and even C-suite executives in the messaging.
- Industry examples: Salesforce leverages its Alumni Network platform to maintain different communication channels, each serving unique alumni needs.
- Channel selection: Decide on the most effective channels—email, social media, or alumni portals—for each segment.
- Content planning: Draft a content calendar for regular, consistent outreach that keeps former employees engaged without overwhelming them.
The next layer
Monitor key metrics like engagement rates, open rates, and click-through rates to evaluate the efficacy of your communication efforts. Use this data for continual refinement of your strategy, ensuring that your messaging stays relevant and effective.
3. Crafting re-engagement opportunities for alumni
What avenues can we provide for former employees to re-engage with the organization? Offer alumni events, mentorship programs, and even specific job opportunities designed to appeal to former employees. Companies like McKinsey & Company encourage their alumni network to apply for roles, fostering an environment where re-engagement is not only possible but also encouraged.
- Diverse options: Offer various re-engagement options from social events to career opportunities.
- Stakeholders to engage: Consult alumni relations team, hiring managers, and department heads.
- Incentives: Create rewards or benefits that make it attractive for former employees to re-engage.
- Industry examples: Microsoft’s “Alumni for Good” program offers not only job boards but also community service and volunteering opportunities.
- Timing: Coordinate the roll-out of these opportunities with company-wide initiatives or cycles, like annual planning or quarterly reviews.
- Resource allocation: Determine the level of investment needed to create and maintain these re-engagement programs.
The next layer
Consider a referral program that incentivizes former employees to recommend qualified candidates. This extends the benefits of your alumni network to include new talent acquisition, turning your former employees into valuable assets in your recruitment strategy.
4. Evaluation and feedback from re-engaged employees
How can we assess the effectiveness of our reconnection initiatives? Utilize surveys, interviews, and analytics tools to collect feedback from those who have re-engaged. Google, for example, conducts exit interviews and keeps the data to refine its rehiring process and alumni engagement.
- Feedback channels: Use both qualitative and quantitative means to gather feedback.
- Stakeholders to engage: Engage the HR analytics team, department heads, and, most importantly, the alumni themselves.
- Anonymity: Ensure that the feedback process allows for anonymity to encourage candid responses.
- Industry examples: Accenture actively seeks feedback from its alumni, adjusting its engagement strategies based on the insights gained.
- Data analysis: Aggregating and analyzing the data to find patterns and areas for improvement.
- Adjustment cycle: Create a feedback loop where the collected data is regularly reviewed and acted upon.
The next layer
Invest in analytics platforms specialized in feedback collection and analysis. Regularly update stakeholders on what changes have been made based on the feedback, thereby showing a commitment to continuous improvement.
5. Sustaining the relationship with former employees
How do we maintain a lasting relationship with reconnected employees? Keep the lines of communication open through regular updates, newsletters, or forums. Companies like Apple maintain an active alumni network where former employees can access exclusive events and training programs.
- Communication channels: Establish and maintain various methods of contact.
- Stakeholders to engage: Alumni relations team, community managers, and senior leadership.
- Content planning: Plan content that will be both useful and engaging for the alumni.
- Industry examples: Goldman Sachs frequently organizes alumni events and reunions, fostering a sense of community and connection among former colleagues.
- Content calendar: Maintain a calendar for when and what type of content or engagement you will roll out.
- Community building: Use both online and offline methods to build a community among current and former employees.
The next layer
Consider creating an alumni portal, where former employees can find all these resources in one place. This becomes a one-stop-shop for all things related to alumni, making it easier to manage the relationship on both ends.
Future focus: Evolving alumni engagement
In an ever-changing business landscape, new challenges and opportunities in reconnecting with former employees are emerging. Questions around leveraging technology for alumni engagement, managing global networks, and turning re-engagement into a competitive advantage are vital. For ongoing insights into these complexities, HRD Connect remains an invaluable resource for HR leaders looking to stay ahead of the curve.