HR Headaches: Should I Rehire an Employee Who Quit During the Great Resignation?

Are you thinking about rehiring former employees? Here are pros, cons, and important considerations.

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Employees may leave your company for many reasons. If you’re not sure why, it can be tough for you to decide whether or not you should go ahead and give former employees another chance. You could end up having the same problem in a few months, or you could get a reliable employee you have wanted for a while.

Companies may be flooded with new applicants, but if you’re looking for someone who matches your corporate culture and work style, might you start considering the pool of recent resignees? Whatever their reasons, your business might want to consider hiring them again. They’ve already gone through a screening process and could be even more loyal than newly hired employees. Of course, you never know how someone will turn out when hired a second time.

On the other hand, there are a few reasons not to hire recent resignees. First, with companies struggling to find and keep qualified employees because of the shortage, this might be the opportunity to weed out people who shouldn’t be working for you. In addition, employees who resign may lack loyalty and could leave again at any time — especially if they find something better or if their situation changes.

Boomerang employees

Boomerang employees are workers who leave an organization and later return to it. Reasons for leaving might include accepting a new opportunity or taking a break post burnout. Whether for personal or professional reasons, or some combination of both, boomerang employees are people who quit their current company in some way, shape, or form rather than being fired or pushed out.

Some former employees may realize their new jobs aren’t a good fit or that enough time has passed since taking a break. Unfortunately, there is no clear solution to this problem. Employees who quit their positions during the great resignation may have recovered, but you also need to consider the cost of re-employing the person.

Reasons for leaving

We all know the adage, “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.” Before the pandemic hit — which led to the great resignation — this was most often the case. But the past 2 years have shown that people have been leaving their jobs for other legitimate reasons:

  • Wanting to leave the workforce altogether
  • Stay-at-home parenting
  • Freelancing
  • General curiosity
  • Trying something new
  • Pursuing a hobby or passion they’ve always wanted

The coronavirus, increased workload, or lack of support from management could also be the culprit. Whatever the reason is, it can be challenging to find out why someone left your company, so be prepared to ask them directly to avoid any unwanted future separations.

Why your employee wants back in

Employees might wish to return if they feel they aren’t getting the promotional opportunities they want, despite being happy with your company. For example, a higher position becomes available somewhere else, so an employee might take the new job, leave, and then turn that experience into a way to get a promotion or higher salary with you. Sometimes it’s as simple as an employee taking a new job and realizing it’s not what they were looking for and eager to return.

Other times, employees may be unhappy in their current role or don’t know how to make themselves more valuable and decide to move on. In either case, having a clear understanding of why someone is leaving can help you better understand where they could fit within your organization.

What do former employees bring back to the table?

If the potential rehire was a good match for their previous job, you’ve already cut the cost for recruiting, hiring, and training new people.

Boomerang employees can be excellent rehires, and the pros seem to outweigh the cons. If the potential rehire was a good match for their previous job, you’ve already cut the cost for recruiting, hiring, and training new people.

While a boomerang employee may need additional training if gone for a while, they generally know how you work. They have a basic understanding of your systems, processes, customers, and the company culture and work environment. In addition, someone who has worked for a different employer may have acquired new skills, and those that wish to return to you can use these new skills to benefit their role and your business.

Why you might not want them back

Your former employee left for a reason, and you need to know why. If what made them want to go hasn’t changed, they may end up leaving again. If they’re transitioning back into a higher position, they’ll need to be vetted as with any other hire for that position. They may have gained new skills at their new job, but they’ll need to prove their commitment — so asking for references should be part of the deal.

Your former employee left for a reason, and you need to know why. If what made them want to go hasn’t changed, they may end up leaving again.

If your former employee left on their own accord, then they may have never wanted to be there in the first place. You run the risk of them not respecting or appreciating your company. One might argue to stick with hiring people that are willing to go all in for work and not be afraid to turn down those who left before. These reasons for termination of employment or separation should keep former employees off the list of potential candidates:

  • Stealing
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Ghosting their position

Decisions, decisions

The boomerang hiring trend isn’t going anywhere soon, and some of your former employees will realize that the grass wasn’t as green as they’d envisioned. While some will have recovered from COVID-19 burnout, others will discover that old employers often change their minds about flexible working conditions.

Boomerang employees will be a consideration long term, so it pays to start thinking about how and if you want to rehire them sooner rather than later. But, in the end, it will be up to you to decide if the risk of hiring a former employee will be worth it.

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