A stellar employee leaves your company for another job. Maybe a recruiter drew them in with a tempting salary and alluring benefits, or maybe they just wanted to experience something different. However, a few months or even years later, they’re back at your door. Turns out the grass wasn’t greener on the other side. Do you rehire them?.
In the past, leaving a company was seen as betraying loyalty, and rehiring former employees was frowned upon. However, many businesses are taking into account these “boomerang” workers in an era where the average worker will work for more than 12 different employers in their career and where businesses are struggling with a tight labor market and a lack of skilled workers.
There are a few assumed benefits of rehiring former employees. First, because they are well-known, some businesses view boomerang workers as less risky than new hires. Additionally, boomerangs already have the necessary skills, so they take less time to train and onboard. Furthermore, boomerangs may be more committed this time and less likely to leave again because they are aware of what they are getting into. Most importantly, they may have grown as a result of their experiences while away, and they will return with new wisdom, maturity, and abilities.
Since there hasn’t been much research on this staffing strategy, we set out to determine whether boomerang workers lived up to our expectations. We analyzed a large dataset consisting of eight years of archived data on over 30,000 employees who initially were hired (external hires), internally promoted employees, and first-time external hires. Our research focused on two main questions: 1) Does the job performance of boomerang employees improve, stay the same, or decline upon returning to their former employer? and 2) How do boomerangs’ performance levels and turnover rates compare to the more traditional options? The dataset included the organization’s annual ratings of managers’ job performance, based on their competencies, job responsibilities, and goal accomplishment, in addition to job history information like tenure and reasons for departure. Here’s what we found.
After being rehired, boomerang employees’ performance frequently stays the same. Furthermore, boomerang workers who leave the company a second time frequently do so for the same factors that led to their initial departure. In other words, based on the behavior they displayed during their initial tenure, boomerang employee behavior is fairly predictable.
We questioned whether the original reasons for boomerang employees’ departures might shed more light on our conclusions. For instance, this retail business had rehired some staff members who had quit involuntarily, possibly as a way to give them a “second chance.” Therefore, we divided the reasons for initial turnover into three categories: positive indicators (like continuing education) of future job performance, relatively neutral indicators (like personal reasons) of future job performance, and negative indicators (like termination due to poor performance).
We discovered that boomerang workers who had initially left for either positive or neutral reasons performed similarly upon their return. However, boomerang workers whose initial departure was due to poor performance underperformed compared to those who were either positive or neutral. Although we had hoped for a compelling “second chance” tale, we discovered that the behavior was the same both before and after rehiring.
Our results did support the idea that boomerang employees’ future behavior is likely to be consistent with their past behavior, so can hiring boomerang employees still be a good investment? As a result, a boomerang is probably less risky than a stranger because businesses can anticipate boomerangs performing similarly to how they did previously. If their performance is satisfactory, they might be a good hire. Furthermore, former boomerang workers who left for essentially positive or neutral reasons initially outperformed both internal and external hires. This supports the idea that compared to other hire types, boomerangs may require less onboarding and contribute more quickly. However, boomerang workers did not seem to be more dedicated when they returned. They actually resigned more frequently than other types of workers — more than twice as frequently as internal promotions.
Organizations should take into account these factors (risk tolerance, initial turnover reasons, time horizon to performance, and need for stability) when deciding whether to rehire a candidate or look elsewhere. Based on an organization’s hiring goals, the table below summarizes the effects of these considerations. For instance, job performance predictability may be highest for boomerang employees, a little lower for internal promotions, and lowest for external hires.
Although it would be interesting to learn how laid-off workers fare when they come back (especially in light of the massive layoffs brought on by COVID-19), our data did not include layoffs, so some of our conclusions might not be applicable to that group of boomerang workers. We don’t know, for instance, whether employees who are fired and later rehired would experience higher turnover than other hire types. We would generally advise rehiring strong performers who had previously been fired based on what we do know so far.
The bottom line is that when boomerang employees are rehired, they are more likely to be similar to how they were before rather than better or worse. So, don’t just believe the hype. First, think about your organization’s goals. If predictability, quick results, and lower training costs are what you’re after, boomerang workers might be the solution.
Rehiring a former employee
Benefits of rehiring former employees
Before you decide to rehire a former employee, it can be beneficial to think about the advantages of this decision. Here are some pros to consider:
You already know a former employee’s work ethic, personality, and skills before you hire them. This means that by hiring this employee as opposed to a new hire, you are not taking as many risks. Knowing this employee will enable you to anticipate how their work will benefit the company.
You might not need to spend money on training programs for this employee if they have only been away from your business for a short while. A former employee can typically start working right away and skip a training period because they are likely to remember the policies and procedures of your company, which can save you time and money.
A former employee is more likely to return to their job with greater dedication if they ask for it back. This is due to the possibility that they will value elements of your business that they previously didn’t value or notice. These workers may offer a more positive perspective on the position at your company because they are also likely to have pursued other careers.
Boost company morale
Professionals often make friends within the workplace. Rehiring a popular employee can help colleagues renew friendships and lift morale. Making an effort to rehire former workers can also demonstrate to your team that you value people and want to foster a close-knit professional environment.
Save on recruit costs
Reaching out to former employees with an offer of employment may be simpler and more affordable because you already have the professionals’ contact information. As a result, you might not need to spend money advertising the position or holding interviews. Rehiring the employee can also save time if they inquired about the position.
The former worker most likely received training for a new position from another company after leaving your business or organization. If you have the chance to rehire a former worker, they might have new skills they picked up from working for another business. As a result, your business may gain a worker who requires little training but has additional skills.
When to rehire former employees
You might want to think about hiring a former employee again if your business is growing or there is a lot of demand for your service. Rehiring former workers who left your company amicably can be a smart and simple business move. Additionally, former workers might get in touch with you to inquire about job opportunities. Even if you don’t have any immediate opportunities for them, it can be beneficial to keep in touch in case a position becomes available.
Cons of rehiring former employees
Rehiring former employees can have many advantages, but in order to make an educated decision, it can be crucial to also take into account any potential disadvantages. Here are some potential cons of rehiring former employees:
If you’re deciding whether to rehire a candidate, you may want to be as impartial as you can. It can be tempting to rehire this professional as soon as possible because you’ve probably already developed a relationship with them. However, it may be crucial to assess whether the former worker is the best choice for the position.
Potential to resign again
Because this former worker left your company before, they might be more likely to do so again. This employee might feel more at ease performing the exit procedure a second time after having done so the first time.
Former employees may not require additional training, but they may need a longer period of adjustment than a new hire. It can be challenging for former employees to readjust to their previous job from a current perspective because they are already familiar with the company. This is crucial in situations where there were significant changes at your company while the employee was away.
While it is possible that the employee will feel more committed to your business upon their return, it is also possible that they will feel less so. Former employees may feel less motivated to work because they already went through the training and hiring process, in contrast to a new hire who frequently is eager to impress.
Tips for rehiring former employees
Rehiring a former employee is frequently based on the individual candidate and circumstance. Whatever choice you make, consider the following advice:
Create specific policies for rehire
The majority of businesses have procedures and rules in place for rehiring employees. By providing them with examples to think about, this can assist hiring managers in making knowledgeable hiring decisions. Many rehiring regulations only permit managers to bring back former workers who did so amicably.
Determine the employees motivations
Knowing what drives an employee to return to your company can be crucial. If you approached them with the opportunity and they accepted, they probably can’t wait to see you again. A former worker, however, might simply return because your business is their only available employment option. If this is the case, the employee can still be a fantastic hire, but they might not be as devoted to the business as other staff members.
Consider why they left
Knowing why an employee left your company can be important when deciding whether to rehire them because it can serve as a reminder of how they fit in there. Think about rehiring workers who were fired for fiscal or seasonal reasons, or any worker who left on polite and cordial terms.
It can also be crucial to keep in mind how this employee impacted the company culture. For instance, adding a former employee back to your team who consistently exhibits a positive attitude and inspires their coworkers to be productive can be a successful move.
Keep a talent pool
The term “talent pool” refers to the professional practice of maintaining contact with former employees. This can include contract laborers, interns and former employees. This can allow you to employ a specialist from your talent pool whenever you require service or labor. Maintaining your own talent pool can make the process of rehiring much simpler and enable former employees to make contact.
The use of talent pools can help your business save time, money, and resources on the hiring process while enabling you to keep up a network of talented individuals.
Have clear expectations
Consider meeting with a former employee to go over your expectations if you decide to rehire them. This can help to clarify any terms of employment and facilitate reconnection between you and the professional. If the employee has been away from your company for a long time, having a meeting to go over expectations can be especially beneficial. A meeting can give you both the chance to discuss any changes and come to an understanding on things like salary, job responsibilities, and other crucial employment details.
Should you rehire a fired employee?
Rehiring a former employee has several advantages, such as the fact that they are already familiar with the business and its culture, that they can quickly reach their OPL, that they have acquired new knowledge and experience during their absence, and that they can raise employee morale.
Is a rehire considered a new employee?
A: Probably not. Should I think about rehiring a fired employee. Compared to a new hire, a fired employee is much more likely to have a negative attitude toward your company. Don’t rehire despite the fact that the issues that caused the firing appear to have been resolved; doing so will only lead to conflict.
Is it OK to be a boomerang employee?
Rehiring a former worker with less than a year of prior service will result in the worker being treated as a new hire and disqualifying them from seniority or benefit plan participation based on prior service.