How Are You Treating Your Employee Alumni?

As a university alumnus, how often do you hear from your alma mater?

I receive some type of communication from my alma mater almost weekly. It ranges from timely updates from the Tulane University president, fundraising solicitations from the development office, and frequent invitations to attend a variety of university alumni events both here in Atlanta and in New Orleans. There’s no shortage of effort on Tulane’s part to stay in touch with me as a loyal graduate.

Imagine for a moment a different scenario. I graduate from a four-year university where I had a great college experience. I love my former school and they seem to love me. Then I move onto a new career, start a family, and…. never hear another word from my alma mater. Not a peep.

Have they forgotten about me? Do they not care about me anymore? How strange it would seem to be cut off from all communication with my favorite school. Over time, my love for that institution would evolve into uncertainty and maybe even anger.

While this scenario is very unlikely to happen with your former school, it happens all the time with former employers. Companies spend a tremendous amount of time and resources onboarding new employees and keeping them, and then very little effort toward offboarding them when they leave.

I think this is a huge mistake for companies big and small.

I believe that companies, particularly small businesses, need to treat their former employees the same way universities treat their alumni — as golden opportunities. Why? For several key reasons:

  • Former employees (alumni) can become future clients, vendors, and possibly future employees (boomerangs)
  • Former employees can also become great referral sources for new clients and new hires
  • Former employees may also become significant sources of market intel, whether it’s about your offering, your industry, or even your current clients.

What could you offer your former employees? Here are several examples:

  • Large companies like Boston Consulting, Microsoft, and Deloitte use social media, dedicated alumni websites, and company newsletters to stay connected to their former employees.
  • Procter & Gamble offers its former employees professional development workshops and speaker series.
  • eBay hosts dinners (reunion events) for former employees.
  • Nestle offers discount programs and employee-assistance programs to their employee alumni

It’s time to engage and re-engage with your employee alumni. Make them the “raving fans” they want to be of your company. They’ll appreciate the attention and you will enjoy the return on investment.

P.S. Imagine if this were your last day at work…