CultureHR & Recruiting

Making a comeback – The case for re-hiring previous employees

With news that Cheryl Cole is returning to the X-Factor (not that we’re fans or anything!) we got thinking about the hiring of previous employees. We’ve seen plenty of examples of employees going back to previous employers, particularly in the marketing and advertising industry, but what’s the upside for the former employer?

Why you should re-hire employees


Most likely, the best reason for re-hiring is that the employee can hit the ground running quite fast.  They already know your business, plus you know what you’re getting from them, leading to a much faster on-boarding process and a reduced cost.  It has been reported that a re-hire of a previous employee could be a 1/3 to 2/3 of the cost of hiring a new employee.  If an employee left amicably then they could bring back lots of useful insights to the business.  Plus you don’t have to pay those pesky recruitment fees!

Increased retention

Previous employees know what they’re getting into, so although your instinct tells you, “they left once, what’s to stop them from doing it again?, many reports suggest that the retention rate is often higher as they already have an understanding of the culture and job description.  They’ve also seen less attractive options.

New skills and insights

There’s a lot of value in the increased knowledge and gained insights from working for another employer and this increases innovation in the workplace.  If this employee is coming back from one of your competitors then there’s a lot of positive messages, both internally and externally, that can also be expressed.

Okay so it sounds pretty great, but what should you consider before re-hiring a previous employee?

1.    What were the reasons for them leaving in the first place? Will this be an issue again?

2.    How will the rest of the business react? Has the business culture shifted? What role am I recruiting them into and how will this impact the business?

3.    Although there are clear cost and time savings, are there better suited candidates out there? I.e. are they the best person for the job?

4.    What will their added experiences bring to the business?

5.    What are they looking for? Is this the right move for them? And, what are their reasons for returning?

Ultimately, re-hiring makes sense in certain cases and equally, creating a very successful alumni network of previous employees who may return or refer potential candidates is just as important.  It seemed to have worked well for Apple…

I’m a Founding Partner of Bamboo Crowd. I help our clients invest better in people and scale through Engine. I solve recruitment challenges and help our clients source the best talent across operations, business development, programme management, and technology. Ask me about good films, beards and hip hop.