Talent leaders from across the Benelux region gathered on 3rd November at the iconic Kasteel Heemstede, as part of a thought-provoking (and packed out) event focused on recruitment trends.
Various topics related to talent “pooling” were discussed, but one of the interesting areas of focus for many businesses was around alumni engagement – keeping employees engaged even after they have left the business, and finding ways to possibly bring them back.
Using Alumni pools
The talent leaders from across the region told us there is a lot of potential in a company’s alumni community. There are two aspects to this:
- Alumni returning to work for the company: the so-called ‘Boomerang’ employees. These (re)hires can be really valuable – after all, past employees have spent some time at your company, and are well versed in its values and ways of working.
- Alumni referring others to work for your company – a useful source for valuable candidates, as again the previous employees will understand what represents a decent fit for your organization.
In the latest edition of the Beamery Talent Index, 45% of people said they had left a job and later regretted it – so there is always a chance you can bring people back into the fold, and save some time on hiring and onboarding. According to LinkedIn data, 4.5% of new hires (among companies on LinkedIn) were “boomerang” workers in 2021, compared to 3.9% in 2019. It’s a strategy that’s growing in popularity.
Of course, managing alumni data and ensuring their information is always up to date is just part of the story: offboarding tends to be an overlooked part of the talent experience, but a ‘good resignation’ – handled positively – makes it far more likely that someone retains an element of loyalty for your business and continues to be an ‘asset’ for you.
Who makes a good boomerang?
Our group of talent leaders considered alumni communities to be integral across the board – not just for one industry or type of work.
White collar workers, such as those in consulting companies, may have moved on from their previous company because they didn’t get the projects they wanted: but if the project is now available, they are keen to come back – and are likely to perform well. This may be particularly relevant during times of economic uncertainty and upheaval, where the pipeline of new projects is either slow or hard to predict.
Meanwhile, blue collar workers can be harder to keep track of and roles are often required at high volume: so leveraging alumni can be critical to business continuity within those types of company. With the scale of this challenge, technological solutions are recommended – to handle the talent data management, communication and personalization at scale.
Pools, pyramids and hourglasses
The talent management experts at our forum pointed out that looking at talent pools can be very useful in ensuring a company is seeing the ‘right sort of churn and movement’ – that is, the type that enables your high performing middle management staff to keep progressing. In other words, without people at the higher levels of management moving on and being succeeded, there is less career progression for those elsewhere in the organization.
Talent leaders in Benelux and beyond understand that people – even very good people – leave the company, and that might be for the best. What they are figuring out now is how they put the structures and systems in place to easily welcome those people back, if and when the time is right.