Alumni programs proliferate as downturn deepens
Employers are ramping up their alumni programs in a bid to maintain good relationships and maximise prospects for re-hiring staff that might lose their jobs during the downturn.
Specialised alumni websites can keep former staff involved, together with email newsletters and online seminars. HR intranets and careers sites can keep alumni informed of vacancies in the organisation, both for themselves, and so they can provide referrals of potential recruits, he says.
Alumni involvement will depend on separationVas says that while alumni programs can offer employers a chance to re-employ good staff they've had to shed in a downturn, the re-engagement success rate will always depend on how redundancies are managed.
Alumni programs obviously work best with employees who have left voluntarily, he says. But if forced redundancies are well managed, with good communication, outplacement services and maximum effort to re-deploy, affected staff often retain a level of commitment to the company. With good communication and genuine outplacement, they often accept that they are the victims of events beyond their employer's control.
"If on the other hand, organisations haven't been able to afford to offer those services and manage redundancies poorly, obviously an alumni program isn't going to work", Vas says.
Alumni program generates re-hires, referrals and new business for PwCPricewaterhouseCoopers has one of Australia's longest-established alumni programs and it has delivered a wide range of benefits for the firm, says PwC national human capital and talent director, Sharon Bell.
PwC's local alumni program (which is part of the firm's global program) has more than 8000 members and has resulted in a high number of re-hires, candidate referrals and new business referrals for the group, Bell told HR Daily.
She says that because PwC accountants work closely with clients, it is not uncommon for them to leave and work directly for clients during their career, but many later return to the firm.
Bell says one of the greatest tangible benefits for the firm from the alumni program is that it keeps these former employees engaged with PwC, and results in a flow of referred work from the former employees, both from existing and new clients.
The program also keeps former employees in touch with career openings in PwC Australia and throughout the world and - as well as a large number of re-hires - results in quality candidate referrals, Bell says.
She says PwC has deliberately declined to extend its candidate referral bonus to alumni members, because many of them work for existing clients and to pay them a referral fee would raise conflict of interest issues.
PwC keeps in touch with alumni members through regular email newsletters covering professional development and news from the firm - such as thought leadership papers and new product offerings - and alumni are also invited to PwC professional and industry functions and product launches, annual reunions and more regular informal social functions, Bell says.
The company is also in the process of revamping its alumni website to make it more interactive and more conducive to networking, she says.
"The alumni program allows them to stay in touch and maintain and build their networks and get access to advice from a trusted source."