Study reveals the benefits of a strong corporate alumni network

alumni-networkIt’s often said that you should never burn your bridges, and therefore you should try and retain good relationships with past employees when you leave a company.  A recent study reveals that the same applies to the employers too.

A fond farewell

The study, conducted by researchers from Penn State, found that maintaining good relationships with ‘alumni’ was particularly important in a modern era that is typified by a high turnover and movement of staff.

“When we, as researchers, study organizations, or even when we study how managers look at employees, we see that businesses often assume that the relationship terminates when a person leaves the organization,” the researchers say. “However, in our research, we extend the employment boundary outside of the organization. We believe that the relationship does not end there and you have to be mindful of the people who actually left the organization.”

The study found that when we have positive relationships with both our former boss and former employer, these tended to carry through into our next workplace.  These people can then become crucial ambassadors for your company, whether that’s in becoming future customers or even in a more broad knowledge centered context.

“They can also come back to work for you as boomerang employees,” the authors note. “They are a very powerful force and we cannot ignore that.”

Supporting alumni

As most organizations fail to do this very well however, the authors suggest that more effort should be given to ensuring that departing employees go with a high level of goodwill.

This is especially important as departing employees are often particularly sensitive to how they’ve been treated.  Even little things like the degree of ‘sorrow’ or appreciation can go a long way to shaping our perceptions of the organization we’re leaving.  Indeed, were there even any attempts made to prevent the employee from leaving?

Of course, it’s usually better to think about these things way before the employee actually considers leaving.  Indeed, the paper reveals that the best companies often invest so heavily in their staff that it creates a ripe environment for them to move on, so in demand are their talents.  By investing in the employee however, this kind of departure often carries significant goodwill with it.

All of which should provide some food for thought for recruiters and HR folks.

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