On The Rebound

Rehiring former employees has itsperks--but be aware of the pitfalls

As you try to hone in on the ideal size of your company, you may do a lot of laying off and rehiring of employees. Eric Greenberg, director of management studies for the American Management Association, says there’s an increasing trend to rehire former staffers. The AMA reports that the percentage of rehires jumped from 18% in 1995 to 24% in 1996. Greenberg attributes this pattern to a “skill shortage” in the workforce and an increasingly competitive corporate climate. While a lot of people are looking for jobs, he says that only a small percentage have the skills employers are looking for. “This phenomena is causing employers to take back employees they’ve already worked with rather than gamble on new ones,” says Greenberg.

Rehiring former staffers, if done properly, can garner great results. If you bring back decent workers who left on good terms and want to be a part of your company again, you stand to gain a valuable asset. And, you know what level of performance to expect from rehires. Another plus: rehires know your organization. Barry Lawrence, a spokesperson for the Society for Human Resource Management, says many employees leave companies because they don’t blend in with the corporate culture. With rehires, you eliminate that risk because they know the culture and how to work within it.

Angela King, human resource manager for CMP Media Inc., a publishing company in Manhasset, New York, says acclimating is easier for rehires, and they often bring creative ideas from their previous position, which can only help to grow your business.

But there are risks in bringing back old talent. This largely depends on the terms on which the employee left. You obviously want to steer clear of employees who were fired. But there are less obvious situations that could also be harmful. If you’re considering rehiring an employee who resigned, King suggests thee you find out why they left before making any new offers. Was it for more money? A more challenging offer? “If you don’t know why they were dissatisfied the first time, you could be setting yourself up for a failure by hiring them back,” she says.

Rehiring former staffers can be a step toward growing your company. So if you’ve got jobs that need filling, make sure you give your ex- employees a second look.

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