There can be plenty of reasons to rehire a former employee. In today’s article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of rehiring people who have previously worked for your company. We’ll also discuss best practices and share a rehire policy example. Here goes!
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 take 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 reach their OPL faster. Since former employees already know their way around the company, they’ll need less training and time to reach their Optimum Productivity Level (OPL).
- 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, 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?
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. Also, if a former employee had a quarrel with their manager or a co-worker, these issues may resurface when they are reunited.
Rehire Best Practices
The best practices listed in this section aim to reduce the drawbacks of rehiring a former employee and to optimize the rehiring process.
1. Maintain a talent pool
When employees leave the organization, a good way to stay in touch is by adding them to a talent pool. Doing so will allow you to send them updates on the latest developments within the company, vacancies and other relevant information.
Having a talent pool works both ways. It makes it easier for a former employee to reach out to their previous employer and vice versa. The candidates in your talent pool aren’t limited to just former employees with a permanent, full-time contract, by the way. A contingent worker – meaning a freelancer, independent contractor, consultant, etc. – who performed satisfactorily and who fit in the company culture should also be added to your talent pool.
2. Create a rehire policy
Having a policy in place will help you build a structured process for hiring boomerang employees. A rehire policy is also a good way to define who could potentially come back to the company and who can’t.
Think for instance of employees who left because they felt they couldn’t further their career at the time, or people who wanted to take on new responsibilities as examples of the former. If, however, an employee left on bad terms, because of their unprofessional behavior or a dispute with their manager or colleagues, or if they were poor performers, you may want to prevent them from coming back.
We’ll include a downloadable rehire policy example at the end of this article.
3. Interview before you rehire
One thing your rehire policy should definitely cover is interviewing former employees. It may be tempting to skip this part of the hiring process, since you’re dealing with someone who already worked for the company, but it’s important to still have an interview process in place to:
- Understand why they left in the first place (check for instance their answers to your exit interview questions) and whether or not these reasons still exist
- Ask the former employee the same questions as any other candidate so you’ll be able to assess and score all candidates the same way
- Set expectations on both sides
Things are likely to have changed since the former employee left the company, even if they were gone for a relatively short period of time. Colleagues may have left and new people may have joined and, especially since the Covid-crisis, new ways of working may have replaced the old ones.
This is why you need to have a reboarding process in place for your boomerang employees. Elements you may want to cover include:
- New systems and technologies the employee will be using + relevant training
- Remote work and office policies due to Covid-19
- Team collaboration practices and team building activities
5. Discuss compensation and benefits
Talking about expectations includes a discussion about compensation and benefits. A former employee may expect to earn (at least) the same as they did before or perhaps even more than that. Since they’ve been away and gained experience elsewhere, they may also feel that they should be in a more senior position.
These are all topics that should be addressed before you rehire someone. On the day they start their new job, there should be no misunderstandings regarding people’s seniority, salary and benefits package.
6. Think of the team
The recruiter and hiring manager may think it’s a great idea to rehire a former employee, but the team they’ll be working with may see this differently.
Therefore, before you make the final hiring decision, ask the people who will be working directly with the former employee how they feel about welcoming that person back in the team.
Rehire policy example
Here is a sample rehire policy that you can edit or adjust for your business. Please keep in mind that this is just an example of what a basic policy could look like. The text does not take into account any relevant local laws and regulations and it’s not a legal document.
[Company] Rehire Policy
Our [Company] rehire policy outlines the rules for rehiring former employees.
Who is eligible for rehire
Employees who left the company for one of the following reasons can be considered for rehire if their performance at [Company] was satisfactory:
- Voluntary resignation
- Company lay-offs due to business needs
- Expired contract
- Termination for other reasons except for violation of company policies, illegal or unethical behavior
Who is not eligible for rehire
Employees who left the company for one of the following reasons will, in general, not be considered for rehire:
- Termination for violation of company policies, illegal or unethical behavior
- Termination due to an unsatisfactory rating on their most recent performance evaluation
- Job abandonment
- Not showing up on the first day after accepting a job offer
Employee status and benefits
- Former employees who’ve been with us for less than  months will be considered new hires if they are rehired. As such, they will [partly] go through our hiring and onboarding process.
- Former employees who’ve been with us for more than  months may not have to go through all the hiring and onboarding procedure. These employees can be recognized for seniority and they can be eligible to participate in our company’s benefits plans. This is the case if a former employee is rehired, and if they were absent for a shorter period than the period they previously worked at [Company]. For example, Joe worked for us for 5 years, went elsewhere for 3 years, and came back.
- Former employees who’ve been away for more than [X] years will be considered new hires in any case.
When a former employee applies, this is the procedure that should be followed:
- HR verifies whether or not the employee is eligible based on the criteria layed out in this policy.
- If they are eligible and qualified for the position they apply for, and have been with [Company] for less than  months, they go through our standard hiring procedure. If rehired, they go through our standard employee onboarding.
- If they are eligible and qualified for the position they apply for, and have been with [Company] for more than  months, they go through at least a [pre-employment assessment/pre-screening/etc.] and an interview. If rehired, the go through our custom reboarding program.
You can download this rehire policy example here (in PDF).
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.
Benefits of rehiring a former employee include the fact that they already know the company and its culture, they reach their OPL faster, they have gained new skills and experience during their time away, and that they can boost employee morale.
Disadvantages of rehiring a former employee include the fact that they may leave again, they may feel entitled or hold a grudge, and that they may not be the best candidate for the job.
Best practices include having a rehire policy, maintaining a talent pool, interviewing former employees, reboarding, discussing compensationa and benefits, and involving the team members.
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