While few people would describe getting laid off or fired as a “graduating” from their company, many businesses have created social networking sites for their “alumni” as the poor economy continues to take its toll on American jobs. Whether an employee leaves voluntarily or is shown the door with a pink slip, companies like IBM, Lockheed-Martin, and Dow Chemical have created LinkedIn and Facebook sites that allow former workers to keep in touch, even if they move on to competing companies.
Part of the draw of these alumni networks is to provide a centralized spot for “boomerang” employees (those who leave the company only to be hired again later). As the deepening recession forces companies to continue laying off staff, alumni networks keep the connection between company and individual alive. Even if a person does not end up boomeranging, alumni networks have other benefits. Ideas and insights shared between employees new and old on the network can be mutually beneficial. Many sites feature inside industry news and job leads. Some alumni networks even offer exclusive deals on health insurance for former employees.
Many companies are drawn to private social networks because it allows them to track and study the topics being discussed on the site’s forums. Using online tools and software, employers can effectively map out the goings on of not only the company, but also the skills and interests of the network’s contributors. These tracking methods often help companies find the proper employee to suit their needs. In one such instance, an accounting firm used its tracking software to rehire 31 boomerangs.
As for the disgruntled employees who would rather defame their former employer rather than boomerang back in, trolling and angry dissension appear to be rare occurrences on the alumni networks. Many execs say that a company’s most outraged alums choose to air their grievances on sites that are not controlled by the company.
1. Will the presence of such alumni sites help the image of participating companies?
2. How do the alumni sites serve as a research base for participating companies?