Companies are often reluctant to rehire personnel who have previously left a company, but in today’s talent-short market, are former employees a potential untapped source of talent?
It goes without saying of course, that you would only consider re-employment if an employee left on good terms. There are significant benefits in hiring past employees. They come with prior knowledge of the company culture and expectations, processes, systems and procedures. In a job market where competition for talent is at an all-time high, hiring someone, who is already familiar with the organisation, could offer a competitive advantage as well as reduced resources required in on-boarding and training. Because of their prior knowledge, this is likely to be the case even if the employee is hired for a different role. An ex-employee’s foundational understanding of the company’s social systems and political landscape gives them a clear advantage over new hires who have to learn these nuances from the scratch. This is particularly true in large organisations with complex systems, divisions and hierarchies.
Rehires can be expected to return with valuable experience from their exposure to alternative company environments, giving them renewed insight from their ability to compare and contrast ways of operating, ways of viewing and approaching the market and/or approaches to problem solving, as a result of a fresh perspective gained from their time beyond the companies confines.
What are the risks associated with rehiring?
One of the biggest concerns of rehiring is the risk that the employee will leave again. Accordingly, thorough analysis prior to hiring is required to gain an understanding of what led to the decision to leave last time and to evaluate objectively and with clarity whether it will be different this time around.
On what terms did the employee previously leave? Have those factors been addressed in the current potential offering or will the employee continue to be a flight risk? Be sure to perform due diligence to ensure that there aren’t any unresolved grudges or relationship issues from the previous period of employment that may impact on the future working environment if they are re-employed.
It is essential to ensure that that an employee’s current intentions and aspirations align with the employer’s. Is there clarity around their reasons for returning? Expectations that are not understood and go unmet has the potential to drive dissatisfaction and increase the risk of a repeat of a past exit. Encourage the former employee to ask questions surrounding salary, company culture, and any changes that have occurred since they left. Be thorough and explicit in explaining any improvements or changes made since the employee’s previous departure.
A common mistake made in rehiring is to skip or reduce the on-boarding process. Despite the fact that an employee is well versed with the organisation, a re-introduction is critically important. Treating the employee like they are new is a great way to reground them in your employment brand and get them excited about what has changed. Taylor the experience to their particular needs, and personalise the process to identify and address knowledge gaps.
Provided that rehires are undertaken with due caution and thorough research as to the situational fit, they potentially offer significant benefits of acquiring employees with both external perspectives and internal knowledge.