Rehiring Former Employees

When a company is hiring, there are many options at their disposal for finding new, qualified talent to fill open positions.

Aside from traditional recruitment campaigns, many companies find it advantageous to pursue candidates who might have previously worked for the company as well. This is where having a formal policy for rehiring former employees comes in handy.

What is a Rehiring Policy?

A rehiring policy involves bringing a former employee back onboard to work for the company. There are many situations where this would make sense:

  • Voluntary resignation
  • Rehire after layoff
  • Expired contracts
  • Termination based on other factors besides performance or unethical behavior

However, if the employee was let go because of an issue with performance or reliability, then they most likely should not be considered again.

Why Should You Have a Rehiring Policy?

Rehiring a former employee can save money and simplify the hiring process, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t still be a formal policy. It’s always best to have an official document that details how the process will unfold. This ensures that everyone involved is up to speed on how to navigate the rehiring process from beginning to end.

This document should define items such as interview questions and answers that are tailored to rehiring former employees.

Pros of Rehiring a Former Employee

There are many pros that come with rehiring a former employee, which is why it is becoming more commonplace. Below are just a few of the most common pros that are associated with rehiring a former employee:

Attitude and Morale

Some say that attitude is more important than knowledge. An employee who is rehired is likely to have a more positive attitude, which could increase their willingness and ability to learn new skills as well as increase the overall morale around the office. Having a positive attitude can also be a catalyst that helps drive the rehired individual to achieve at a level previously unknown to them. This benefits both the employee and the company.

Skills and Experience

With a former employee, the skills and experience they bring to the table can be a huge bonus to a company. This can’t be said for every new candidate. While a new candidate may look good on paper and provide all the right answers during the interview, there is always a risk that they will simply fail to perform their duties. With former employees, companies usually have a good idea of how they will perform once they’re back in the workplace. This minimizes some of the risks associated with hiring and and can provide companies better insight into what role would be the best fit for the employee.

Cost Effective

Rehiring the right candidate can save your company a great deal of money, especially since there will be no need for a traditional recruitment campaign.

Instead, your company can focus its efforts on getting back in touch with rockstar former candidates, bringing them in for an interview, and onboarding them in a relatively short and hopefully painless period of time.

Since the candidate is already likely to have a file with the company (i.e., previous assessment scores, job applications, answers to interview questions, etc.), the rehiring process can be expedited so that the candidate can get back to work much quicker compared to a brand-new employee.

Decreased Training Time

Another big bonus to rehiring a former employee instead of hiring somebody brand new is they most likely will not have to go through the entire training process. At a lot of companies, new hire training can take weeks if not months; this not only costs money to provide training materials but also takes time away from current employees who are tasked with providing the training. By rehiring it is possible to circumvent most rudimentary training, saving your company time and money.

Easy Assimilation into Company Culture

Company culture is a big deal, and making sure that your new hires are going to be a good fit and contribute to the culture you have spent so much time developing can be stressful. When rehiring a former employee you have a better understanding of whether or not this person fits the culture of your company.

Cons of Rehiring a Former Employee

While there are many pros for rehiring former employees, there are also a few cons.

Below are just a few of the drawbacks associated with rehiring a former employee:

Leftover Negative Sentiment

Most individuals who are looking for work are quite happy when they receive news that they are being considered for an open position. However, when that company happens to be a place where the individual previously worked, there is a chance that the individual is still harboring bad feelings from the original departure. This is especially true if the individual feels that the reasons they were originally let go were unjustified. You might think they would just reject the offer if they have these negative emotions, but the reality is that the individual might need the job.

This is where having an interview process strictly designed for rehiring former employees is a huge help. Through the use of carefully crafted interview questions and a review of why the employee left or was let go, you can better determine if rehiring this employee is the best move for both parties.

Lazy Hiring Practices

While it’s true that rehiring a former employee can eliminate the cost of running a traditional recruitment campaign, it is also true that rehiring an employee can be a detriment to your company’s success.

The problem is that former employees have an air of familiarity about them. This familiarity sometimes convinces hiring managers to skip traditional hiring practices, like searching through stacks of resumes to find new and interesting talent.

Why does this happen?

For starters, hiring managers may simply not have enough time or resources to conduct a traditional hiring effort to fill an open position. It may also may be the case that the person doing the hiring is simply lazy and sees hiring a former employee as an easier opportunity.

This of course is not a good thing: all companies benefit from innovation, and innovation requires innovative thinking from talented employees armed with different backgrounds and perspectives.

By simply re-hiring a former employee without taking the time to evaluate other potential candidates, a company forfeits the opportunity to gain new ideas in exchange for the familiarity of a candidate.

This isn’t to say that a former employee will be unable to bring new ideas to the company; however, it’s always best to consider all options before making a hiring decision.

Same Employee, Different Day

One mistake that hiring managers often make is thinking that a former employee will magically become an “all-star” once they’re rehired.

Rehiring former employees can cost a company dearly in both the short-term and the long-term, especially if the employee shows up and brings all of their old bad habits back to the workplace.

Therefore, if an employee was let go due to issues of reliability or performance, it’s very important that hiring managers do their due diligence when deciding if rehiring the employee is the right move for the company.

Increase in Salary

When an employee is let go from a company, it is very likely that they will find other employment opportunities and acquire new experiences and skill sets.

Unfortunately, these new experiences and skill sets will come at a cost to the company since the pay rate that the employee previously received will no longer be applicable.

Because of this, companies need to be sure that before they rehire a former employee that the new skills they are bringing to the company are worth the potential increase in pay.

Resentment in the Workplace

Finally, bringing an employee back can cause unwanted resentment in the workforce.
Although potential rehires may possess the skills and abilities necessary to perform the job and perform it well, the rehire might cause resentment and jealousy in the workplace. If this former employee is being hired for a higher level position than they previously held, current employees may feel that they deserved that promotion and not the person who left the company and is now returning. In this case and situations like it, it may be worthwhile to consider hiring a new candidate altogether, as a decrease in morale is something that no company can afford to endure.

Final thoughts on Rehiring Former Employees

Putting it all together, rehiring a former employee is a valid option for many companies who have a hiring need; however, hiring managers need to be cognizant of all their options when it comes to recruitment.

First and foremost, hiring managers need to define the criteria in the rehire policy for determining the eligibility of a former employee who is a candidate for being rehired.

With this criterion in place, companies should be able to accurately weigh the pros and cons of the specific candidate and decide if it’s worth it to bring them back onboard.

 

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