You already know some of your best potential hires: They're your former ones. Human resources theory today says—except in some cases—it's time to set aside any old ideas about company loyalty and recognize that in rehiring former employees, you often get an excellent deal.
The Boomerang Effect
Rrecruiter Ira S. Wolfe writes that hiring a boomerang "has one of the highest returns on recruiting investment an employer can ask for." It only costs one- to two-thirds that of what Wolfe calls hiring a "virgin" employee.
"Little time or effort must be invested in getting to know the candidate," Wolfe explains. "Boomerangs can be valuable to an organization because they understand the culture. They have a history with the business, but bring a fresh perspective from the outside. During their absence, there is a good chance that boomerangs have learned new skills and strategies, achieving success in a different setting."
Boomerang employees also tend to be more productive more quickly—they don't need the same amount of time to learn even small things, such as where the bathroom is and how your expenses filing may work.
Some types of positions are better suited for ex-hires than others. The restaurant and hospitality industry, for example, tends to have low retention rates of boomerang employees. Mike Haberman, co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, suggests rehiring for exempt positions (salary) rather than non-exempt positions (hourly wage).
Haberman writes on the blog Blogging4Jobs, "Hourly employees often leave jobs for things like more money or a bad boss, not to say that exempt employees don’t, but a salaried exempt employee may be more likely to leave for a challenge, a chance to be an entrepreneur, or a physical move."
If hourly employees who left are less likely to have changed,"to bring them back is not going to offer anything different," Haberman says. "As a result, they may be just as likely to leave in the future."
But employees who took off for so-called greener pastures may have found them brown—or at least, not as green as they thought. They return to your company with "a dose of reality"—plus, adds Haberman, some potentially valuable experience. Plus, hiring such employees may increase retention of other employees who considered leaving for similar reasons, because the return of the boomerang may suggest that your company is a better (or the best) option.
Even if the position might suit a boomerang employee, of course not all former employees are worthy of rehiring. From your pool of potentials, you'll obviously want to exclude anyone who was fired, incompetent or unproductive. You'll also want to cut anyone who struggled to get along with other employees or managers—unless the other people were at fault and they're no longer with the company.
The best way to avail yourself of a pool of boomerang employees? Set up an alumni group via social media, Wolfe suggests. LinkedIn, for example, will allow you to track their careers at the same time. (Read more on why your business should be on LinkedIn.)
He also suggests looking at promising interns, retirees who may not be enjoying retirement, and longtime consultants or contractors.
"Managers need to get over their heartbreak and pride when it comes to rehiring employees," Wolfe says. "Rehiring former employees who have the skills you need is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business."
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