Should you rehire an ex-employee?

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Is there ever a time when you should re-employ a former member of staff?

Of course, there are situations when welcoming a ex-employee back is a bad idea. If they left because of poor performance or unprofessional behaviour for example, you might not want them back!

But what if a stellar employee went of their own accord to work for a competitor, only to realise that the grass isn't greener after all? This is an all too common problem where your valued employees are tempted away with what appears to be at first, a fantastic offer you can’t beat.

We’re in a candidate-driven job market and for the technical professionals we recruit at RHL, we know that careers can be more fluid than ever.

Big players like Microsoft, Citigroup and Dell focus on staying in touch with past workers and encourage them to join corporate alumni groups - presumably to leave the door open for them to return as what are known as ‘boomerang’ employees at some point.

Let’s look at reasons to rehire - as long as the circumstances are right.

They’ll return with far more to give

Moving roles and joining new companies helps people learn and grow. It gives them access to diverse experiences, new outlooks, leadership development and broader professional networks.

Add to this gaining insights on how other organisations approach challenges and solve problems - or just the nitty gritty on their day-to-day working practices – and there’s a valuable list of things that returners can contribute to your business if they return.

Being able to gather a team who are proactive about developing new capabilities counts for lot now that emerging technologies and new ways of working are disrupting many UK sectors.

They’re a proven cultural fit

A high-performing and happy team depends on finding candidates who are the right fit - not just with each other but also the company they work for. Having shared values and beliefs is increasingly important not just for employee engagement, but also productivity and the bottom line.

Even with skilled interviewing, the only way to know for sure if someone gels with the company culture is if they work as part of a team. And you’ll already know how a ‘boomerang’ employee fits in at work - and how they got on with their colleagues the first time around.

They’re quicker to onboard

Onboarding and training to get a new starter up to speed costs time and money.

But a former employee has a much smaller learning curve. With existing knowledge on how things work in your organisation, they can probably get straight to work with less guidance - and start adding value to your bottom line again quickly.

In project-driven environments with short deadlines, this is a definite positive.

Getting the team dynamic right

Of course, there may be times when a rehire isn’t welcomed back by other members of the team, who feel resentful that a former colleague gets a hero’s welcome (including improved pay and benefits) while they stayed loyal and employed with you all along.

So if there’s a chance that boomeranging an ex staff member would affect the morale of other valued professionals, you’ll need to weigh up whether the move is too disruptive. One option is to involve the rest of the team in any rehiring decision.

Rehiring an ex-employee may take some delicate manoeuvring, but done properly it could help drive your business forward to greater things.