What benefits can organizations receive from Alumni Programs? Conenza and Cornell University weigh in with ground-breaking research
Data drives good decisions. That’s why Conenza surveys Alumni Program managers every year in our benchmarking report to find out what’s working well and where they see challenges in their efforts to engage employees for life. Results from the survey shape strategies for Alumni Programs to enhance the value they provide organizations for key business drivers such as brand advocacy, business development and talent acquisition.
what about the alumni members of these programs? What are their motivations for
staying connected to former employers? To find out, Conenza partnered with two
researchers from Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations
(ILR) to answer two important questions:
- What can organizations anticipate receiving from alumni?
- Why do alumni participate in Corporate Alumni Programs?
research supported Rebecca Paluch’s dissertation as a PhD candidate at the ILR
School. We’re happy to report she successfully defended her dissertation and is
now Dr. Rebecca
there is plenty of research that examines the impact of organizational
structures on employees, Paluch discovered unanswered questions about the
relationship between employees and their former employers. Dr. Lisa
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at the ILR School served as the faculty
support the need for Alumni Programs
from the joint research strongly indicate that Corporate Alumni Programs provide
meaningful impact and are key to driving certain strategic initiatives. Greater
alumni involvement in program offerings was consistently associated with
increasing returns to the organization. In other words, as members use more of
the offerings provided by the Corporate Alumni Program, they are more willing to
advocate and interact in ways that are beneficial for the organization. From
the alumni’s perspective, they need to feel like they are getting value out of
the benefits to validate their participation.
alumni usage leads to greater company value
research revealed that engagement with just one additional alumni benefit, such
as an online Corporate Alumni Program portal, alumni newsletter, webinars and
in-person events, increased an alumni’s likelihood to recommend:
- the company’s products and/or services up to 32%
- the company as a place to work up to 29%
- the company’s Corporate Alumni Program up to 51%
research also measured the impact of increased alumni usage of just one benefit
on other important interactions with the organization. Alumni reported
- up to 47% to apply to be rehired
- up to 22% in doing contract or freelance work
- up to 42% in developing new business-to-business relationships
- up to 26% for providing industry information or insight
- up to 40% in being a mentor
the alumni networks in the study offered at least 10 alumni benefits. In many
cases alumni reported they were not aware of all the benefits available to them
from their former employers, highlighting the need for proactive communication
from Corporate Alumni Programs and meaningful alumni engagement. There is definitely
room for improvement in utilization of Corporate Alumni Programs.
Corporate Alumni Programs create win-win
research uncovered four primary motivations for alumni to want to maintain a
lifelong relationship with a former employer:
- Career-minded – the ability to enhance their careers or businesses
- Social-focused – the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues
- Mission-driven – the desire to support the organization’s purpose
- Pragmatic – the interest in benefits, discounts and perks
understanding the underlying alumni demographics (who they are) and their
motivations for joining the Alumni Program (the why), companies can design a
Corporate Alumni Program that delivers on the alumni needs. When this happens,
the research consistently showed a strong positive link to an increased
willingness of alumni to provide measurable value to the Corporate Alumni
Program sponsor as noted above.
across all Corporate Alumni Programs, regardless of the varying alumni
motivations, consistently ranked three alumni benefits as most valuable:
- Alumni newsletter
- Alumni software platform
- Individualized emails
derived from the three benefits have the strongest correlation with the
likelihood of alumni recommending the organizations products and/or services
and the alumni network.
May 2018 and January 2019, surveys were distributed to alumni in a variety of alumni
networks from different industries including management consulting,
telecommunication and media, software, and non-profit. The survey fielded 1,861
responses from locations around the globe.
Alumni Managers, this new research is valuable to show leadership how and why
Alumni Programs provide ongoing value to the organization over the long-term.
learn more about the Conenza and Cornell University research, including a
deeper dive into the demographics of the respondents, watch a presentation of
the research results by Tony Audino, CEO of Conenza and Dr. Rebecca Paluch from
Cornell University click here. To download a copy of the full research report