Why Former Workers Can Be Long-Term Assets


Posted by Robin Erickson on July 31, 2018.

In the past, when a worker left a company, the employer-employee relationship all but ended. But what if organizations treated their former employees as long-term assets? Leading companies are doing just that—placing value on alumni to boost the company’s brand and bottom line.

A strong alumni network can help an organization in many ways. Alumni can serve as ambassadors for the company and its products and services. Former employees can spread the word as to why a company remains an employer of choice—sometimes, the alumni can become candidates again themselves. To create and sustain this connection, however, organizations must recognize that employee experience doesn’t end when a person leaves the firm. Our article on this topic in our Employee Experience series discusses why an organization’s connection with workers needs to extend through the alumni relationship.

Creating Colleagues for Life

Big shifts in the workplace have raised the stakes for alumni connections. People are living and working longer—workers are staying on the job through their 60s, 70s, and beyond. For these reasons and others, organizations have found that investing time and effort beyond the employee’s exit interview can serve as a competitive advantage.1 Employee experience is enhanced when companies create touchpoints, networks, and memorable moments over the course of a lifelong relationship with their workers.

Companies looking to adopt a philosophy of “colleagues for life” should consider the following three points:

  • Alumni relationships can continue in ways that are beneficial to both the alumni and the organization
  • Boomerang employees may be more productive than new hires with no history at the company
  • Positive alumni experiences can be translated into positive outcomes, such as alumni recommending their former organizations to potential candidates

Organizations can also use the following tactics to create a positive experience for alumni employees:

  • Online alumni networks and forums
  • Newsletters and other types of digital outreach
  • Events in which alumni come face-to-face with former coworkers and other alumni

Alumni offer former employers a number of benefits, but organizations need to be intentional when building these networks. Specifically, organizations should strategically develop their alumni network, create engaging experiences to keep alumni aware of company activities, and demonstrate that the company is still invested in their former employees’ professional development.

If your organization is working on new employee experience initiatives and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Robin Erickson (rerickson@deloitte.com) or Madhura Chakrabarti (mchakrabarti@deloitte.com). In addition, be on the lookout for an online survey later this summer.

Bersin members can download and read the full article, Understanding the Employee Experience: Alumni. Bersin members should watch for our continuing articles in this series that take a deeper look into the many aspects of employee experience today. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website. For more insights into employee experience, please see our blog series, which continues over the coming summer weeks.

Robin EricksonRobin Erickson, Vice President, Talent Acquisition Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Robin leads talent acquisition, engagement, and retention research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Recognized as a thought leader in her areas of expertise, Robin offers more than 20 years of experience, including prior experience in talent strategies consulting and research for Deloitte’s Human Capital practice. Robin led Deloitte’s global Talent 2020 longitudinal survey series and her work has appeared in several issues of Deloitte Review and in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends reports. She holds a doctoral degree in organizational communication and change, as well as a master’s in communication, from Northwestern University. Robin also has a master’s degree in theology from Northern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago.

1 2018 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The rise of the social enterprise, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2018, https://hctrendsapp.deloitte.com/reports/2018/the-rise-of-the-social-enterprise.html.

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