Is Rehiring an Employee a Good Idea?

When the resume of a former employee crosses your desk, you hesitate. You’ve heard cautionary tales from other HR managers warning you against rehiring a former employee, but you’re still not convinced. Is it necessarily a no-no to rehire? Why You Might Be Concerned Many people feel like employees who have left the company are […]

When the resume of a former employee crosses your desk, you hesitate. You’ve heard cautionary tales from other HR managers warning you against rehiring a former employee, but you’re still not convinced.

Is it necessarily a no-no to rehire?

Why You Might Be Concerned

Many people feel like employees who have left the company are disloyal to the business. If they’ve left once, the transition was hard, and what’s to stop them from leaving again?

In reality, this is often more of an ego issue than a real concern, depending on how long the employee worked for you, and what her reasons were for leaving. If she left to raise a child or take care of an ailing parent — or even if she wanted to explore a new industry or job opportunity — you might still want to consider her for future employment.

HR expert Beth N. Carvin, President and CEO at Nobscot Corporation, says that many companies that encourage rehiring have seen positive results.

“Rather than being a flight risk, these ‘rebound’ employees have proven to be more committed to the organization the second time around,” says Carvin.

She says that anecdotal evidence and survey responses suggest these as the reasons for the boost of commitment:

  • They have learned that the grass is not greener elsewhere, so they become more content than those who wonder if life is better at another company.
  • They are familiar with the organization, so it’s easier for them to assimilate back into the company culture.
  • They come back to a network within the company that provides a welcome return and additional support on the job.

Why You Should Consider Rehiring as an Employment Strategy

Besides you not taking a risk on an unknown job candidate, rehires provide your organization many benefits, says Carvin.

Training will take less time than with a new hire, getting you to productivity faster after hiring. Also, since the rehired employee has been “out in the world,” she can attest to coworkers that your company is better to work for than others.

When looking at past employees for current roles, look at their performance history. You’re better off limiting rehires to your past performers who have already proven themselves at your firm.

Sometimes employees try to use the strategy of quitting and returning to get a raise. Be aware that if you offer a significantly higher salary this time around, employees may gossip, and you might see higher employee turnover as others test this theory.

Attracting the Rehires You Want

Consider luring your best talent back as a marketing campaign in and of itself, says Carvin.

“Work with your marketing department to come up with a clever campaign to send to top performers that have previously left the company. (One company used a postcard with a photo of a grass lawn that said ‘Is the grass greener?’)”

She also recommends reviewing exit interviews of past high performers who showed interest in returning to discover what caused them to leave. If any of those issues, such as an overbearing boss, have changed or improved since the employee departed, be sure to let her know that problem no longer exists.

On exit interviews, ask top performers if they would be open to being contacted about future opportunities within the organization. Carvin says to track those who say yes and send out communication down the road to see how they are doing.

She says you can also keep in touch with high performing alumni through social networks and other online communication channels. That way, if one is looking for a new position, you might see a notification on LinkedIn, and be able to reach out before your competitors do.

Rehiring former employees can open up your job pool to better candidates whom you already trust. It’s just a matter of finding them.

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