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Alumni Employees as Brand Ambassadors

by Janaki Rajagopalan

Are current employees the only stakeholders of an organization’s talent management program?

Imagine this. X, a top talent employee leaves the company. A farewell lunch and handshake…and both the individual and the organization close the doors on each other, going their own ways.

Images of employeesThe question is, should it turn out so? A more critical question – can a mutually beneficial relationship be built with former employees who may someday provide significant value again?

Corporate alumni relations’, as part of an organization’s talent management discipline, is a powerful networking and business development strategy, both for the individual and the organization. With the increased reach and clout of social networking, it reflects a credible philosophy of regarding former employees as high ROI assets and strong brand ambassadors.

Consider the following two business scenarios, amidst today’s challenges. One, we have organizations challenged to remain nimble as their workforce shrink. On the other hand, we have top talent that shows a diminishing interest in long-term employment.

In a manner of speaking, the alumni relations program is a combined business development and “quality-of-hire” strategy. Targeted recruitment of former employees (or ‘boomerang’ hiring) is looked upon as a low risk, high advantage exercise – a boon in tough times when organizations cannot afford to make hiring mistakes in getting the few but right hires. Top talent alumni have recognized skills and competencies; they fit back in quickly and become productive faster; they know the basics and organizational culture and have a higher retention probability (having seen the other side of the fence and chosen to return).

A word of caution though –rehiring boomerang employees may cause resentment among current employees, and this needs to be managed intelligently, proactively and reactively.

So the next time you shake hands with a top talent exiting employee, ask yourself – “do I want to lose him to the invisibility of the engulfing business galaxy?”

I suspect the answer will be a firm “NO”!