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Is Attrition the Next Opportunity for EB?

5 min read.

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Employer Branding, Talent Attraction, Brand Authenticity

What if attrition was actually a golden opportunity to enhance your employer brand reputation? Could you turn your leavers into a highly effective way to build a sustainable, irrefutably positive reputation as an employer?

At Ph we believe the next big trend coming around the corner is an investment into alumni experience and alumni community management.

Why? What’s the one thing happening every month in your company (and every company). People leave. And right now, it’s happening in big numbers.

Imagine harnessing this growing number of people and using them as voice of recommendation, validation, positive reference or even referral.

Your alumni leave and go on to bigger and better things. Over time they become more senior and influential. A constant flow of maturing external voices who, when asked, could talk nostalgically and favourably about what they learned when they got their break at your company; what they learned that made them who they are today; who they met that changed their lives or even the failures that made them re-evaluate their entire careers.

When asked what would attract people to a new opportunity some 22 per cent said that brand reputation was one of the three most important things to them, along with company transparency (21 per cent) (Source: Workable).

Harnessing this never-ending, always-growing community to be your sounding board at scale will inevitably start to extend the authenticity, reach and sentiment of your employer brand reputation.

Remember when candidate experience was all anyone could talk about in this industry? It’s still widely regarded as incredibly important and rightly so. In the midst of a mass post-pandemic transformation, however, the focus of many companies has turned towards employees.

Wellness, equity, inclusion, belonging are all hot topics of debate and head scratching strategy sessions as c-suite executives across the world feel the pain of having great people seemingly spontaneously up and leave as if everyone awoke one morning with the same epiphany: “I don’t want to do this anymore, I want something better for myself, on my terms”.

Great people are leaving great companies for a myriad of reasons, including:

  • Failure to adapt to change
  • Failure to effectively communicate the fact they did adapt to change
  • Failure to empathetically listen and show compassion
  • Failure to invest well-meaning support, benefits, recognition and reward in the places people care about.
  • Failure to remain current, relevant and competitive amongst talent competitors with greener grass on show.Basically, a whole lot of failure. But it’s only a fail if you do nothing about it, or you don’t learn from it. It’s even possible to turn it to your advantage.

The value of a good story

Storytelling during the candidate experience is changing into story-doing to prove to employees that you care, you’re a good place to be and you can live up to your values.

The result of the Great Resignation has been an unprecedented backfilling and even growth-driven hiring explosion that, in many sectors, shows no sign of slowing any time soon.

According to McKinsey & Co, of the 600 employees it polled this year who voluntarily left a job without a new one to go to, some 47 per cent returned to work in either traditional or non-traditional arrangements. Of those, 76 per cent went back to traditional employment.

People are hop skipping and jumping ship left right and centre, costing organizations millions in hiring, onboarding, orienting and upskilling as well as investing in retention bonuses and a whole variety of creative retention and engagement initiatives.

The recent action in this space has been almost as dramatic as an opening scene in Mission Impossible, just without any cool music overlay. Unless you count the screams of despair from the talent attraction leaders’ home office.

The world of work has learned that while candidate experience is important, in most cases, employee experience is far, far more important to an organization trying to build and manage a positive, high-performance culture where people can find sufficient purpose, impact and belonging. The strategic focus of the talent experience has firmly moved up a level and we’re predicting that the next level up again is fast approaching -  Alumni Experience.

Building an alumni community

Jumping ahead, it follows that deploying a smart employer brand strategy means we need to play this out and see where it ends, asking ourselves, how we can get ahead of phenomenon and move with the times in order to remain differentiated, relevant and significant in the lives of our high calibre talent?

The goal here is to be able to craft an employer brand that is all of those things as well as authentic AND aligned with the direction of the organization.

There are several benefits in harnessing your alumni community sooner rather than later:

  • In a world driven by social proof, evidence and story, what people have to say about you after they’ve left is increasing in equity by the minute. Your alumni grow and get bigger and stronger all the time.
  • Re-imagining your offboarding experience to become a celebration of what people achieved and contributed towards could be the difference between amplifying a positive brand sentiment or making life infinitely more difficult to influence.
  • As people climb their career ladder elsewhere, having friends in high places amplifying your brand’s messages is a powerful asset.
  • Being pro-actively open to people returning can be a fantastic means of hiring with reduced risk of a culture mismatch.
  • A growing external community of professionals with an affinity to your brand can be an extremely effective way to help combat negative brand stories or bring a neutral balance to a brand perception, validate strengths and provide a fairly immediate access to market research and data gathering.

Companies are harnessing the value of a growing alumni community in a number of different ways, such as building alumni infrastructure including specific alumni membership websites, LinkedIn groups and regular newsletter and correspondence.

An ex-employee will feel that their time at the company was hugely valued by the extension of employee benefits beyond their tenure such as access to continued learning and development, product discounts, and networking events

Producing regular stories, advice, news and content is a great way to keep your alumni engaged an in a positive mindset about your organisation.

Providing early access to jobs and internal opportunities to former employees to tempt people to 'boomerang' back or create natural referral opportunities outside of the immediate alumni community

The best alumni networks

Some of the World’s leading companies have already established alumni communities offering various benefits and opportunities…

Microsoft

A huge worldwide community of more than 48,000 in 51 countries. Perks include L&D, tech discounts and more.

Google

Xoogler.co includes both former and current Google employees sharing brainstorm sessions, startup growth advice and an investment syndicate.

Coca-Cola

Gives access to a huge worldwide community of former staff. Except for their bottling staff. Go figure.

Lufthansa

Offers regional alumni groups, and job specific groups. Plus of course, reduced flight costs and holidays for former staff.

Pearson

As you would expect, offers networking and access to exclusive research and digital learning.

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