Increase Sales with Alumni-Specific Community Building
By Fred Donovan, Senior Editor, SAPinsider
More than four million Americans resigned from their jobs in May 2021, according to analysis published by Gallup. The same analysis says that close to half of the U.S. working population is actively looking for another job or at least watching for openings. Employee turn-over gets a bad reputation, but could the Great Resignation also pose a strategic business advantage?
PeoplePath, a global leading provider of cloud-based platforms designed to engage and manage relationships with everyone in the employee lifecycle (candidates, employees, and alumni), says that an employee leaving can create new opportunity. SAPinsider met with the company’s Vice President for Customer Advocacy, Jenn Pedde (JP), to understand how businesses can engage with talent throughout their entire careers, build lifelong relationships, and ultimately experience long-term benefits for the company through lasting connections.
Q: What is the business need driving the concept of engaging with former employees?
JP: Right now, we’re in the middle of what’s being referred to as the Great Resignation. We have seen reports that expect one in four employees will voluntarily leave their jobs in 2021 and 2022. During the pandemic, one-third of companies laid off some portion of their workforce, and those who remained were staying put in their roles, hoping for security. Now that we’re in a better position with the vaccine and more people feeling comfortable taking risks, they’re moving around. And we saw that millions of people left their jobs in April, May, and June. The value of a corporate alumni program has never been higher.
Q: You use the term strong “brand ambassadors” to describe alumni. Can you tell us what PeoplePath means by the term brand ambassador and the strategic value of engaging former employees?
JP: When employees leave a firm, they have opinions. They will take those opinions with them for the rest of their career. Hopefully, their opinions are positive. They will act as a brand ambassador, whether you want them to or not. They will increase their network over the next part of their career. And they will refer candidates back to a company for which they enjoyed working. After having worked for you, brand ambassadors or alumni who are out in the world can help increase revenue, decrease hiring expenses, and increase social initiatives. You can invite alumni back to participate in volunteer work or social impact initiatives. There are a lot of ways that former employees can continue to benefit an organization over time.
Q: Can you provide specific examples that can bring this concept to life?
JP: We host a global alumni program with a multi-national IT services and consulting company. They report 400 million U.S. dollars in annual alumni-assisted sales, meaning that their alumni go off to work for clients or have relationships with client opportunities. We host a similar program with SAP. Alumni, on average, mention SAP as a great place to work almost 9 times per year and recommend its products and services about as often to their new employer and others.
Q: How do you build and measure engaged alumni?
JP: Building a corporate alumni network does take time and planning, as a community can’t be built overnight. You should start with a survey to see what people want and then provide content, events, and other benefits that meet those expectations throughout the year.
People come and go in the network, depending on what is going on in their lives. So, they may not need the alumni network today, but next month, when they look for a job, they might. Their activity can change over time, depending on where they are. Measuring the success of that network can be looked at in two different ways: day-to-day community metrics, such as logins and profile updates, and business drivers, such as how many alumni have returned to the firm and how many alumni-assisted sales are generated.
Q: Would a LinkedIn group provide essentially the same results as an alumni platform?
JP: LinkedIn groups can be used to find and gather former employees, but they don’t have much use beyond this. For example, they are challenging to use to extend the corporate brand. The company doesn’t have access to the data in a LinkedIn group, just as LinkedIn doesn’t have access to company information. Also with LinkedIn, there are not as many customizable options or features that enable all that should happen in an alumni network. LinkedIn groups are not the best way to work towards a company’s goals.
Q: Have you found that former employees prefer one way over another in terms of staying connected?
JP: Our 2019 research found that alumni have different motivations for staying connected to a corporate alumni network. Their reasons dictate what method they prefer to use and how they prefer to interact. For example, if you’re a career-motivated person, you want to stay in touch with people to advance your career. You value things like a job board and networking events. If you are a socially motivated person, you would be more interested in the directory and other content that’s being created to interact with, such as who’s moving around where.
Q: Do you have specific key performance indicators (KPI) or other metrics that show the effectiveness of an alumni network?
JP: With KPIs, our clients will ultimately decide what their business drivers are. A majority of clients will decide on recruitment as a business driver for their KPI, so they measure how many people come back to the firm. Another KPI is business development, so they keep track of alumni-assisted sales. A third KPI is net promoter score. Those are the three most significant KPIs that we see.
Q: Could you explain your corporate alumni management solution and why it’s important to the market?
JP: Our solution is cloud based, highly secure, brandable, and configurable, as well as integrates with systems companies are already using for employee management. It adapts to the challenges companies might have in building relationships with their former employees or current ones. Off-boarding a company’s employees is just as crucial as onboarding them. It’s an opportunity to leave a long-lasting positive impression on employees. A company can build a community with employees who go off to be brand ambassadors and may come back and work for the company in the future or work as a client.
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?
- Former employees can be a valuable resource. The Covid-inspired Great Resignation has created a large pool of former employees for companies to utilize. These former employees can serve as brand ambassadors, sources for job referrals, and even revenue generators, according to PeoplePath.
- Utilize alumni with specific KPIs in mind. Just keeping in touch with former employees will have little benefit if you don’t have clear business goals in mind. Know how you want to use them and establish metrics on measuring the benefit of alumni to those goals.
- Extend your employee experience strategy to include former employees. SAPinsider’s State of Human Experience in the Workplace Benchmark Report found that increasing remote work and workplace disruption was a driving force for employee experience strategy for 54% of respondents. With platforms like PeoplePath Alumni you can expand your strategy to include employees who have left your company for a new opportunity but still hold growth potential for your business.