Should you rehire an employee who left your business?

  • Recruitment
Alan Price - Peninsula's Chief Operations Officer and CEO of BrightHR

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer

(Last updated )

After the Great Resignation, we’re now seeing the rise of the ‘boomerang employee’ – a term used to describe a former worker who wants to come back to a company.

The question is: what should you do if an ex-employee comes back? Should you rehire them? And if so, how would onboarding work?

If you’re thinking about giving a working relationship another go, here are some questions to ask yourself…

Why did they leave?

The first question to ask yourself is why did your former employee leave in the first place? Did they land a better opportunity? Did they not like the environment? Was the role not a good fit?

If you have the information available, try to find out what they said in their exit interview or resignation letter. Once you know the reason why they walked away, it can help you decide whether it’d be wise to give them another opportunity.

Do they have any unresolved issues with the company?

The next important question to ask is do they have unresolved issues with the company?

If your former worker left because they were unhappy with the environment, ask yourself if anything has changed. Sometimes, it’s down to systems that need to change and other times, it’s the people that just don’t fit.

Or, say your worker left because of a dispute with a co-worker. Is that co-worker still there? If so, you’ll need to weigh up the risks and take steps to make sure this doesn’t become an issue again.

To avoid a problematic staff member returning, you might want to outline specific rules around rehiring in your recruitment policy. That way, you can set out a process for hiring ‘boomerang’ staff and the circumstances where someone might and might not be able to return.

If your employee left the company on bad terms or underperformed, this can prevent them from reapplying.

What were their strengths and weaknesses?

What were your former employee’s biggest strengths and weaknesses? It’s important to evaluate these. Maybe they consistently exceeded their targets but lacked communication skills. Maybe they were a strong performer but didn’t get on with other staff.

You shouldn’t shy away from asking the difficult questions. If there were areas where your employee could improve, it’s important to address whether they have developed in those areas over time.

Evaluate them to get a well-rounded picture and this will help you decide whether rehiring would be a positive or negative thing for your business.

What have they done since they left?

It’s essential you find out what your employee has done since leaving your company. Have they gone on to progress in similar roles? Have they changed career paths? Have they taken time out of your industry?

Some former employees might have gone on to enhance their experience and skillset. They might be even more equipped for the role than they used to be. Others might not.

Make sure you find out what your employee has been up to and what they’re bringing to the table.

Why do they want to come back?

Why does your former employee want to work for you again? Have they been unsuccessful in previous jobs? Are they missing their co-workers? Whilst these reasons might be valid to them, they might not be so beneficial to you…

It’s important that your former worker is able to demonstrate how, in the time they’ve been away, they’ve grown and developed. They should be confident in what they can offer that makes them an asset to your team.

Have you changed?

Don’t just focus on what’s changed in your former employee. Ask yourself – have you changed?

Your company may have grown and evolved since this person’s time with you. If they want to work under the same circumstances they did, it might not be possible if the environment is different.

Look at your company in the present. Do you think your former employee would be able to thrive in your current work environment or would they struggle?

How can I make the hiring process fair?

Even if a candidate has worked for you previously and you know them, you’ll still need to treat them the same as any other candidate. If they’re interested in a position, they’ll need to submit an application.

You may require certain qualifications for a role that you didn’t before. You might now have new technology that requires specific skills. So, you’ll need to check your ex-employee meets this criteria.

It’s crucial you carry out a fair process where all candidates are given the same opportunity. Otherwise, your staff might accuse you of being unfair or discriminating.

Need to re-onboard an ex-employee?

If you decide to re-onboard your former employee, you’ll need to make sure you have your paperwork in order.

You’ll need to provide your worker with the onboarding essentials as a legal requirement. And you may need to provide training to get them up to speed with new systems.

That’s why it’s less stress and less risk to leave your documentation to the experts. Whether you’re hiring or rehiring, your HR experts will make sure your onboarding goes smoothly. They’ll craft watertight contracts and policies for you to keep you safe from risk and give your worker the best second chance to succeed.

Just get in touch by calling 0800 029 4384 or leave us your details and we’ll call you back.

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