Source | www.abhijitbhaduri.com | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
Employee engagement starts long before the employee steps in to the organization. But it needs to continue through the alumni
Time to celebrate
The company had just turned a profit after ten years of bleeding. The employees were thrilled. The bosses were congratulating their teams and thanking them for the hard work. The CEO called for an “All-Hands” meeting to congratulate the entire organization and said, “Persistence pays off. We worked at it for ten years. Thanks for the belief.”
An employee put up his hand and asked, “We should celebrate. Let us call the ex-employees too to the party.” The rest of the employees cheered. Everyone agreed that the ex-employees too had played their role in the company’s success. There was some debate about how that idea would be executed.
There were sceptics. They spoke about the early days when the organization had to shut down a factory and let go the employees. They left on a bitter note. Should they be invited? Why would they come over to celebrate the success of the company who did not want them. In the end it was decided that every ex-employee would be invited. On the day of the celebration, the alumni turned up in large numbers. The hall was crowded. When the CEO went up on stage, the alumni cheered just as loudly as the employees. By the way, the ex-employee of the factory that I spoke about, hired two buses and drove down to celebrate.
“Employee” experiences for everyone
The leadership team of every organization has to answer an important question: Who are we designing the experience for? The “employee experience” helps the individual to experience what the brand stands for. It starts when either the (potential) employee or employer initiates contact.
Some of the top tier strategy consulting firms have powerful alumni connect programs. They stay in touch with the employee long after he or she has left. The alumni speak fondly of their association and with a sense of pride.
Universities understand this
Universities do a particularly good job of engaging the alumni. What do they do better? The university portals celebrate the achievements of the alumni with a sense of pride. They make it easy for the alumni to stay connected to each other across different generations. Whenever I meet an alumnus of XLRI (my Alma Mater) I feel a connect that is hard to explain. Whenever I discover that someone I know is from XLRI, I find it easy to empathise with them in their sorrow or celebrate their happy moments. Very often the person may not even know what I feel.
The corporate alumni portals are usually all about transactions. How to get your dues settled faster. How to get the pension fund contributions transferred to the new employer etc. The news is usually all about the company – not the alumni. It is hard to have a conversation with someone who only wants to speak about himself or herself constantly. Universities understand this. Corporates should send their HR teams to understand how to design alumni portals that build emotional bonds beyond transactions.