Would you rehire a former employee? It’s a question that may be top of mind for many of you, especially in the current competitive hiring environment. A recent survey from Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, found that 98 percent of HR managers would strongly consider welcoming back an employee who had left the company on good terms.
Sometimes called “boomerang employees,” rehired workers offer many benefits. They already know your business and won’t require hand-holding or a lengthy onboarding process. And you already know their talents, skill set, personality and corporate fit, minimizing your chances of making a costly bad hire. In fact, boomerang employees can be such an asset that some managers and HR departments keep in contact with their “alumni” as a way to recruit passively.
If you’re thinking this may be a good option for your company, here are some questions to consider, along with a few tips for integrating boomerang employees back into the office:
When to rehire
Of course, you wouldn’t rehire former workers who left on bad terms. But it’s not always the best idea to ask back top performers, either. Here are a few things to think about when former employees want to return:
- Why did the person resign from your company in the first place? If the employee left to take a higher-level position elsewhere, then rehiring them for an even more senior role could be a smart move—they’ll likely have valuable new skills and experience to bring to the table. The same is true if the employee stepped down to earn another degree or to travel. And, if you reluctantly let someone go during downsizing, it might be wise to consider rehiring them during a boom period.
If the employee resigned because they were dissatisfied with an aspect of the job—the salary, benefits package, management, coworkers or company culture, for example—and the situation has not changed, it’s probably not the best idea to rehire them. There’s a good chance they’ll soon find themselves unhappy on the job once again.
- Do you need someone to step in right away? Rehiring a former employee can be useful when you have a time-sensitive assignment or need to replace a departing worker as soon as possible. They are a known entity, so you don’t have to spend time checking their references or doing multiple rounds of interviews with them.
- Do you need someone to step in right away? Rehiring former employees can be useful when you have a time-sensitive assignment or need to replace a departing worker as soon as possible. They’re a known entity, so you don’t have to spend time checking their references or doing multiple rounds of interviews.
- What does your current team say? When you’re considering a rehire, reach out to the employees who worked closely with the person the first time around. They may have insights into the person’s skills and fit for the workplace environment that you weren’t aware of.
How to approach rehiring
Even though boomerang employees can be a great addition to your staff, there are right and wrong ways to rehire someone. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:
- DO meet with other candidates. Even if you think the former worker is the ideal person for the open position, it never hurts to interview other candidates, as well. There might be one who’s an even better fit for the job, or one who’d make a good candidate for another open position at your company.
- DON’T skip the formal interview. People change. A former employee may have new professional goals or constraints that prevent them from fulfilling certain job duties, such as traveling or working the occasional late nights. Also, if a boomerang employee has been gone for an extended period, their skills may not be as sharp. Use the interview process to dig deeper, especially if the person is applying for a role that’s different from the one they previously held.
- DO clarify expectations. A returning employee may have preconceptions about the role. If the job duties have evolved or new skills are required, make sure to explain that.
- DON’T forget about other options. There are many types of work arrangements. If you can’t offer the former employee a full-time position, consider using their talents as a part-time worker, contractor or project professional.
- DO keep the door open. Even if you decide against rehiring a former employee, or the person declines the job offer, stay in touch. You never know when circumstances—or minds — will change.
As with any job candidate, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits when contemplating a rehire. The opportunity to bring back a former top worker might be welcome, but don’t neglect doing your due diligence before you make the hire.