It’s not uncommon for organizations to have a policy against rehiring former employees. This sort of policy makes perfect sense with respect to troublemakers, poor performers, or others who left under a dark cloud. It’s also understandable given that companies invest a lot of money training and developing their people, and employees who go elsewhere take that investment with them, sometimes to a competitor.
But times have changed, and expectations with them. Few employers these days expect employees to stick around for many years. Most know that employees will move between employers multiple times over the course of their career and that many of them will even change careers entirely, some more than once.
It’s not that workers today are disloyal or uncommitted. The culture of the overall job market has redefined expectations around these concepts. A loyal, committed employee isn’t likely to reveal trade secrets to a competitor or publicly badmouth their employer, but they may intend to further their career with a different company at some point in the not-so-distant future. Loyalty and commitment have more to do with what the employee is doing for their employer presently—not what they will be doing for them indefinitely.
While the overall culture of employment has changed, individual organizations have updated their own culture to align with these new expectations. Not only are companies allowing eligible former employees to apply, but some employers are also even encouraging it! Here are five big reasons why you might consider doing the same:
- Former employees already know your organization. They’re familiar with the operating procedures, the rules, and traditions of your culture, and the people with whom they worked previously. Consequently, it takes less time for them to be acclimated to the work environment. You can usually onboard them more easily and train them more quickly, filling the position at a fraction of the cost.
- Oftentimes, former employees return with additional knowledge, skills, and abilities. Sure, they took your investment in them to another workplace, but they’re coming back to you with other employer’s investments in them, which can now be leveraged at your organization.
- Communicating that you welcome back former employers highlights the fact that people like working for you and see your organization as the place they’d like to be, even if they have other options.
- It creates trust. Prospective candidates and current employees understand that you don’t see them as a potential threat to the organization that needs to be deterred from leaving. Instead, you show them that you trust them and that your interest in their lives and careers extends beyond the time they work for you. That reciprocal trust makes the employment relationship much more productive, rewarding, and enjoyable.
- Your competitors are likely open to rehiring their high performing former employees, and if you’re competing with them for workers, you don’t want to unnecessarily limit your pool of strong candidates. That just puts you at a disadvantage.
Even with these five benefits, a former employee may not be the best candidate for the position. In some cases, what a new employee brings to the table outweighs what the former employee offers, and the new employee is clearly the better bet. In other cases, however, the former employee is the smart hire, and ruling them out because they once quit would be a mistake. Boomerang employees may not always be worth rehiring, but they’re often worth considering.
Patrick K. Collard, MHR is the Managing Member of trustHR | GObackgrounds (San Diego, CA and Brookfield, WI). He has 28-years of experience as a human resources consultant and holds both a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society and a Master of Human Resources with a concentration in Employment and Labor Law from Penn State University. Patrick may be contacted at 1(888) 462-2251 or patrick@trustHR.com and on social media: @askTrustHR.