How to Rehire a Former Employee and its Pros and Cons

In today’s competitive hiring environment, are you trying all the possible places to find top candidates? Have you considered rehiring a former employee?

There are a couple of key benefits of bringing former employees back into the organization. One reason is that it increases the size of your qualified applicant pool during the recruiting process. Data collected through our exit surveys indicate that in most cases, over 50% of preventable exits say that they’d likely consider returning to the organization. Read this blog to find out how to rehire a former employee and its pros and cons.

In cases where there are especially tough-to-fill positions because of a unique combination of a required skill set, or a location that is particularly difficult to staff, opening up your search to former employees significantly increases your pool of qualified candidates.

Things to consider before rehiring

You, as the recruiter will have to make sure to ask former employees all of the same questions you would ask the unknown candidates. This should still be a very thorough, professional interview. Find out about new experiences they have gained since leaving the company, as well as the reasons they left those jobs.

Ask specific questions about their reasons for leaving the first time and what they have learned since they left.

You also need to consider how this will affect the team they will be joining. Are your rehires joining a new team or their previous team? Think of how will team members feel about this rehire?

Finally, you need to consider the reasons former employees left the job initially. You also need to remember what was great about them as well as what they needed to improve. Weigh the positives and negatives.

Pros of rehiring a former employee

If you want to rehire a former employee — also referred to as a boomerang employee — there are several pros and cons to taking into consideration. Let’s start with the former.

  • They already know the company. Boomerang employees know the company inside and out. They are familiar with its people, culture, systems, and processes. In other words, they know what to expect. This reduces the risk of a (culture) misfit considerably.
  • They bring new perspectives. An employee who has worked for a different company for a while has probably learned new skills and experienced different ways of doing things. As a result, they bring new ideas and fresh perspectives when they come back.
  • It’s cost-effective. Hiring a boomerang employee can be interesting from a financial point of view too. Not only do they need less training and time to become fully operational, but it also takes less effort to recruit them.
  • They boost employee morale. When a former employee returns to their previous employer, they implicitly — and perhaps even explicitly — tell other employees that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. Otherwise, why would they’ve come back?
  • Higher Retention Rate. Although it may seem backward, employees that choose to leave and come back are much more likely to stay than the typical employees. This is because they’ve learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so to speak. Now that they’re back at their original position after working another job for some time, they understand and acknowledge what they have and appreciate the company much more than they did beforehand.

Cons of rehiring a former employee

  • They may not be the best candidate. The ease of rehiring a boomerang employee may unconsciously cloud the recruiter and the hiring manager’s judgment. The benefits mentioned above can make a former employee seem like ‘a sure thing,’ While this may be the case, it doesn’t necessarily make them the best person for the job.
  • The may leave again. They left the company once so they won’t hesitate to do so again. Even though boomerang employees know the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere, they also know they can always come back.
  • They could feel entitled and/or hold a grudge. When you rehire a former employee, strictly speaking, they are a ‘new hire’ especially if they’ve been away for a long time. They may see this differently though and could expect, for instance, special perks and higher compensation.
  • Not interviewing them as thoroughly as you interview other candidates. Don’t make the mistake of glossing over certain interview subjects or questions just because you feel like they aren’t necessary.

To be sure that your rehire is the best candidate, you have to put them through the wringer as you would with any other candidate. This includes reference checks, skills tests, etc.

Procedure

When a former employee applies for a position or contacts our company about rehiring, the following procedure should be followed:

  1. HR department reviews personnel records to decide whether the former employee is eligible for rehiring.
  2. If they are eligible, hiring managers would decide whether the employee is qualified for a particular position. If they aren’t eligible, the HR department should inform them.
  3. If they’re qualified, hiring managers to contact the former employee and make necessary arrangements. These arrangements include (but are not limited to) an interview, a pre-screening test, or a direct job offer. If they aren’t qualified, hiring managers should inform them appropriately.

At any moment, the company may choose to contact former employees proactively. Their eligibility should be established beforehand.

Wrap-up

Rehiring a former employee can have important benefits for your organization. Boomerang employees know the culture of the company and they can bring a fresh perspective on the business. But, on the other hand, they can also feel entitled or hold a grudge. To reduce the drawbacks of rehiring a former employee and to optimize the rehiring process it’s good to keep the best practices listed in this article in mind — and to create a rehire policy.

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