So…you’re considering a previous employee rehire and weighing the pros and cons of bringing them back to your team. Will this decision wind up being a good move or one of those “What the heck was I thinking” situations?
The fact is, it largely depends on the specific person you’re reconsidering, the position in question, the culture of your company, and the nature of the former employee’s departure the first time around. Of course, the employee must first meet any rehire eligibility requirements, which usually means they weren’t dismissed for cause or violated any ethical or behavioral conduct rules.
Still, it is possible for the rehire process to offer a win-win situation for everyone! While HR directors and managers once considered rehiring a former employee to be a bad idea, many of them are coming around to see the potential benefits of these so-called “boomerang employees.”
If employees see their employer is actively working to bring back talented people, it can have a positive effect on morale and engagement, especially if the rehire was well-liked and respected. Rehiring high-performing and high-potential employees can also bring productive teams back together and lay a strong foundation for trust.
Unless the boomerang employee has been gone for a long period of time, it’s unlikely that they’ll need to receive much in the way of retraining. This not only saves time when it comes to onboarding costs, but also allows you to slot the rehire employee into their position with minimal disruption. Even if some training and development will be needed to support them in a new role, the time and cost involved should be significantly less than bringing in a complete outsider. Previous assessment records and development plans might even be available as well.
Another benefit of hiring past employees is that there are few, if any, recruiting costs. Since the person already has a track record within the organization, employers have a good idea of what the employee can do so they don’t have to find someone new and recruit them. Rehiring past employees saves on the frustration of trying out a new employee and finding they’re just not what they seemed.
Another advantage of boomerang employees is that they already know the procedures and the culture within the business. Compared to a fresh hire, they have the advantage of knowing what goes on during meetings, how workflow is managed, and how performance is evaluated. They also know why some employees or managers do one thing one way and why others do it another way. The procedures are familiar, allowing them to get up and running quickly, which is a major benefit to your business.
Yet another benefit of rehiring employees is that they will likely be more engaged and committed to the organization upon their return. Many companies find that boomerang employees exhibit a more positive attitude after the rehiring. In most cases, that’s because they’ve seen how other businesses operate and worked with other people, which has provided them with the perspective to know a good thing when they see it. These employees tend to be more appreciative of the company they work for and the team members they work with. They also bring a fresh perspective along with them that could lead to important changes within an organization.
On the other hand, rehiring isn’t always a great idea. There are a few key reasons why sometimes it doesn’t make sense to bring a former employee back into the fold.
While performance is obviously important, if an employee’s behavior or personality caused friction within a team or made other employees unhappy, odds are good that you’re better off without them. There’s a popular adage that people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. Bringing back someone who could negatively impact retention or create a toxic work environment is just asking for trouble.
There are many practical reasons why it makes sense to rehire a former employee, but just because it will be cheaper and faster to do so doesn’t mean they’re the best choice to fill a position. The added challenge of bringing in a completely new face might be well worth it if that person is a better long-term hire for the organization. No one wants to miss out on a future high-performer just because they didn’t want to bother with onboarding them.
Organizations can change dramatically in a very short period of time. There’s a good chance that a boomerang employee could be walking back into a work situation that isn’t at all similar to the one they left. That would negate many of the benefits of rehiring an employee, so you should always consider just how much things have changed when considering bringing someone back into the fold.
If you do choose to rehire a former employee, clearly communicate to your existing team your reasons for doing so. Also, brief the returning employee on the company’s current situation and spell out your expectations. If the person originally left for a specific reason, be sure that the situation has been addressed to avoid losing them a second time around. And finally, be sure to follow up regularly with the returning employee to be sure they are adjusting well.