What comes to your mind when you read or hear the word ‘alumni’?
I would imagine most of you thought about graduating from a particular high school or college. Maybe images of football games, tailgating, homecomings, class reunions, or old friends from a fraternity or sorority came to mind. Wikipedia defines ‘alumnus’ as a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate. I would like you to think of ‘alumni’ in a whole new way. Alumni is an excellent term to describe team members who have left your organization. How do you treat the folks that choose to leave your organization? Is it out of sight, out of mind? Do you give former employees much thought?
How much time do you spend on offboarding?
As a Leader of DISHER’s Talent Solutions Team, I invest considerable time in talent attraction, retention, and culture building. My team works internally and externally with clients to develop great offers, competitive compensation plans, and thorough onboarding processes. However, we have noticed that most of our clients give little thought to offboarding. Did you know, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that the average worker currently holds over 10 different jobs before the age of 40? This number continues to grow. The data makes it clear that every organization has the potential for a large number of alumni. Knowing this fact makes it imperative that we build trusting relationships with our current employees and future alumni. We must learn how to offboard well.
Employees work an average of 11.9 different jobs from age 18 to 50. Source: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf
5 Keys to Offboarding Alumni
- Be Respectful. Treat those who leave your organization the way you would like to be treated; practice the Golden Rule. Exhibit an attitude of respect, care, and concern. Thank your alumni for making your company a better place. Care enough about the individual to let them go! Put yourself in their shoes. Empathize.
- Don’t Take It Personally. It is not about you. It is about the employee who is making a big change in their life and career path. Stay focused on them and be positive.
- Support Professional Development. Many employees might be leaving for their next step in professional growth. This may mean graduate school, a new position, a new career path, or even sailing across the ocean for a season. Others might be resigning to support a spouse’s promotion in another area of the country. Care enough to let them grow!
- Take the Exit Interview Seriously. This is the perfect opportunity to learn deeper insights and gather candid thoughts. Look for those nuggets of truth that can help your organization get even stronger. The exit interview also gives the person leaving another chance to feel valued and heard. This time together provides one final engagement to strengthen the relationship and build deeper trust.
- Keep in Touch. Care about your employees even after they leave. This can be done by building an alumni newsletter, Facebook, or LinkedIn page. Send out alumni twitter updates. You can also invite them back for special events like a company open house.
Care enough to let your alumni go and grow. (Alison Shields, DISHER alumni)
Why go through all this work to care for your alumni? Recruiters and HR professionals already feel overwhelmed. Plus, now there is the added pressure to fill the position of the employee who just vacated. Other than it just being the right thing to do, caring about your alumni also builds LOYALTY. If you are loyal to your alumni— they will be loyal to you. Attracting and retaining loyalty brings four key benefits to organizations.
4 Benefits of Loyal Alumni
- Attract Candidate Referrals. When your organization needs to fill a position, a loyal alumnus gives you a resource to call upon. They provide a boots-on-the-ground network to draw upon. Alumni understand your business, culture, and strengths. They can share this firsthand, unbiased knowledge with potential candidates.
- Gain Free and Powerful Marketing. Loyal alumni will speak positively about your organization. They are live testimonials with the ability to connect with people outside your sphere of influence. They become brand ambassadors who create a positive, organic buzz.
- Grow your Customer Base. Loyal alumni sometimes become your customers. One of our DISHER alumni recently joined an organization in Ann Arbor and convinced their new employer to hire DISHER for a significant project.
- Welcome Them Back. Sometimes an alumnus returns to your organization. They can hit-the-ground-running because they already understand the culture, the business, and the role. They become immediate contributors.
Key Benefits to Loyal Alumni
Remember, it is important to create a culture that attracts and retains LOYALTY whether they are current employees or alumni. Truly care about your team members and their best interest. Care enough to let them go and care enough to let them grow. Doing this will reap dividends for all parties involved. The impact of our words and actions as an employer, and the impact of our alumni’s words and actions, will create either positive or negative ripples that can go on and on. At DISHER, we call them Ripples of Influence™. What kind of ripples are you making with your alumni?
In September, Keri McCarthy was selected by DisruptHR to give a 5-minute presentation at a packed-house event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Keri spoke on this topic, Creating Loyal Alumni, which received excellent reviews. If you are looking for agile-talent solutions or help building a culture of loyalty, contact DISHER. We would love to help your team grow even stronger.
Written By: Keri McCarthy, Business Lead – Talent Solutions
Keri is an expert in staffing management with over 21 years of experience in talent attraction, retention, branding, implementation, problem solving, and reorganization. Keri has worked in a variety of industries assisting companies in acquiring top talent as well as developing a solid culture and infrastructure. She is also the instigator of DISHER nerf wars!