10 Things to Consider Before Rehiring a Former Employee

A man interviews a job candidate.

Would you hire back someone who quit, even if they left on good terms? If your answer is an automatic "no," you may want to reconsider your rehire policy.

Would you rehire someone who resigned, even if they left on good terms? If your answer is an automatic "no," you might want to reconsider your rehire policy. In the right circumstances, a lot of good can come from hiring someone you already know.

Some Positive Things to Consider

It Will Likely Cost You Less

You may spend less time and money hiring a former employee (also known as a "boomerang employee"). According to research from iCIMS, it takes 53 days to fill an average small company job, and the recruiting and interview process is costly — not to mention the hidden costs of training new employees. Hiring a boomerang employee may help reduce those budget line items as you won't have to spend as much time vetting, interviewing, recruiting and making sure they're a good culture fit.

Assimilation May Be Easier

Assuming your rehire hasn't been gone long, they may need less orientation time. They should already be familiar with your company's culture, climate, mission, products and services. Also, since they usually have a better idea of what they're signing up for than entirely new employees, boomerang employees often tend to stay around longer, making them less risky, more productive and better for your retention statistics.

They'll Bring a New Outlook

Boomerang employees often return with a new outlook and new skills developed during their time away, which can help them provide fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to help drive your business.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Why Did the Employee Leave?

Review the employee's file to determine the reason. Was it something personal or family related? A lack of opportunity for advancement? An educational endeavor? Whatever the reason, consider whether it is still likely to be a factor if you rehire the person.

What Were the Employee's Strengths and Weaknesses?

Desperation may make you gloss over some niggling negative qualities; you may also have forgotten things that impressed you during the first employment period that you couldn't adequately recognize or compensate. Review the file. Talk to former supervisors, direct and indirect, as well as coworkers, to develop a fuller profile of your potential rehire.

Why Does the Employee Want to Return?

Missing former colleagues is not a good reason. Nor is failure in subsequent jobs. What you want to hear is that the employee has had time to learn, grow and develop new capabilities — and that they feel confident that their new knowledge can benefit your company.

Some Potential Hurdles to Consider

Some Employees May Have Hard Feelings

Current managers and coworkers may feel threatened when someone comes back on the scene with a new skill set. Existing employees may also have some misgivings if a boomerang employee returns in an elevated role and in a higher pay grade (which is often the case).

. . . and That Could Mean "Goodbye"

If your boomerang employee takes a more senior position and current employees become upset, it could result in voluntary resignations. Take the temperature of your team before you make a decision by getting key players involved in assessing the opportunity to rehire.

Your Boomerang Employee Might Remember Why They Left

Did your boomerang employee have difficulty working with their former manager and is that former manager still around? If so, that could be a problem. So could a continuing lack of benefits, poor advancement prospects or lack of learning opportunities. Know how you're going to address these issues before you start the interview process. Hopefully, your exit interview notes will provide valuable insights.

Time Has Passed

Your company's climate and culture may have changed significantly since your boomerang employee left. They may no longer be a good cultural fit, which could be disruptive and cause tension. Address any concerns during the interview.

As you go through the rehire process, take note of what you do, how you do it, whom you speak with (internally and externally) and what you consider — in a manner consistent with how you would consider any potential hire. Put the information in with your existing policies, if you have them (which you should). That's the first step in creating an effective and fair rehire policy. Ensure that if and when you rehire, you have the returning employee go through the same background check process, orientation and training that a new hire would. Once you think your policy is in good shape, have it reviewed by a labor attorney.