Should You (or Shouldn’t You) Rehire Former Employees?
I laughed when I read a recent article in Glassdoor for Employers that compared rehiring former employees (“boomerang employees”) to ordering the same thing every time at your favorite restaurant. Why do you do it? In a nutshell – you know what you’re getting, and you know it’s (they’re) good.
Especially in tight candidate markets as we are currently experiencing, many employers have changed their attitude a bit and loosened previous policies about not rehiring employees who have previously quit.
At J. Kent Staffing, I can remember rehiring 3 employees for our internal team. Overall, they were good decisions and they all made good contributions the second time around. But, on the flip side, I don’t believe any of them stayed for much more than a year on their second round with us.
But, like that dish at your favorite restaurant, there is a lot to be said for a sure thing, especially with the many question marks surrounding unknown applicants.
- They already know the ins and outs. They are familiar with your company culture and have prior experience with internal systems and processes.
- They have improved (gained more skills) since the last time you saw them. Whether they left to go work somewhere else or to go back to school, they often bring new skills, experience, and perspectives that can benefit your organization.
- They let other employees know they have a good thing going. Most have learned that the “grass is NOT always greener” somewhere else.
- They save you money. Your recruiting costs and training/re-training time to get them fully up-to-speed and productive are much less than for a person brand new to the organization.
What happens when you rehire that same employee who quit before, who just ends up quitting again later. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. Like taking back a former girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse… is it really any different the second time around?
- Things may not have changed. Have the previous problems (or old managers) that caused them to leave the first time been resolved, or gone away?
- They could be entitled. Although boomerang workers are “new hires”, they may disagree and expect or want perks, seniority or increased compensation from their original tenure.
- They could be stubborn/unadaptable. Processes and procedures may have changed since they left and they may hold onto some of the “we used to do it this way” mentality, while the rest of the company has moved on.
- They may not be the best candidate for the job. They may be a “known” thing, but are they the “best” thing? You could be missing out on the better candidate in your applicant pipeline by unconsciously favoring the ex-worker, or by taking the easier route.
Every employee’s personal circumstances and career journey are different. There’s just no right or wrong answer as to whether it’s smart or not to rehire someone from the past. When you get that call or email from a past employee asking for their job back, the most important thing to do is take the time to objectively re-interview them without rushing and making a hasty decision.
- “The Pros & Cons of Rehiring Former Employees”, By Glassdoor Team, May 19, 2021.
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