Boomerang effect: 4 steps to rehiring a former employee

By Robert Half on 5 August 2014

In many cases, former star performers combine an intimate understanding of your business with in-depth market knowledge – factors that are major catalysts for success.

But although rekindling a relationship with a former staff member can bring many advantages, it’s also fraught with dangers if you don’t have a firm strategy in place.

This four-step guide to re-employing a boomerang will help you avoid the pitfalls before they appear.

Make sure you resolve old baggage

Although it’s tempting to believe that your returning employee comes with a clean slate, it’s important that you revisit the circumstances of their departure before you recruit them again. For instance, if you let them go or if they decided to leave without giving adequate notice, then it’s likely that negative memories of those experiences will cloud their future performance. However, if your boomerang rehire simply left to pursue another opportunity, then it’s worth giving them another chance. Just remember to have an informal discussion to gauge their feelings about re-entering their previous workplace. To avoid issues, you must keep the lines of communication open.

Reacquaint yourself with their skills

So your boomerang employee was an IT maestro but just spent the last five years working in sales? If the role you’re filling depends on time-sensitive skills and knowledge, don’t rehire your boomerang until you’ve properly reassessed them. Although return employees save businesses serious hiring and training costs, it’s worth knowing how much money you’ll have to reinvest. If it’s been a long time since your recruit exercised their skills, it might be worth seeking new blood.

Understand your boomerang rehire’s career objectives

Two years ago, your boomerang might have dreamed of becoming a marketing manager, but there’s no telling what’s unfolded in that time. Before rehiring your boomerang, make sure you clearly understand how this role fits into their career trajectory and whether they’ve experienced any changes in perspective – equipping them to make the right decision will serve you both in the long run.

Often, boomerang rehires are among your most loyal employees, as they’ve explored the world outside your business and made a conscious choice to come back. But starting an active dialogue about their career expectations and how they can achieve them within a former workplace can set the stage for fresh opportunities and new professional ground.

School them in the latest workplace dynamics

Workplace dynamics are sometimes difficult to understand, but they often reveal employee satisfaction and team morale. If your former staff member was a natural leader but is now relegated to a non-management position or asked to work under an employee they once mentored, it could be the start of slippery slope. Again, being as transparent as possible with your boomerang and openly declaring your agenda can prepare them for the tasks ahead. If you flag prospective clashes and ensure they’re happy with the new position, they’re likely to be a natural fit.

Whether you’re taking on a boomerang rehire or seeking out a brand new employee, read on for some hiring mistakes to avoid.

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