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The pros and cons of rehiring employees

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The latest football transfer gossip suggests that some high profile players may be set for reunions next season with former bosses and team mates.

If this week’s sports headlines are to be believed Romelu Lukaku will once again be working with former boss Jose Mourinho and Wayne Rooney will be returning to Everton the club at which he started his career.

Whilst football fans around the world and numerous football pundits will be giving their views as to whether these moves are going to be good for the clubs and the individual footballers, the rehiring of former employees is an issue that might affect any employer.

As with all recruitment choices there will be potential risks and rewards.

Potentially re-hiring a former employee can be a great idea. Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 and the decision to rehire him in 1996 has been described as one of the wisest the company ever made, as he oversaw the company’s biggest growth years.

Former employees have the advantage that they are familiar with the organisation, the culture and how it operates. They may also know many of your current employees and clients. All of which taken together means that in all likelihood they can hit the ground running with little or no training required.

The new skills that they have learned might be easier to adapt for use also because of their history with the organisation.

There is too, the fact that a re-hire removes the risk of the unknown. No matter how good the recruitment process there may still be concerns about whether the employee will “fit” in. Who knows whether a new candidate will have the same attitude once the recruitment procedure is at an end? Clearly with a former employee there is less risk of disrupting workplace morale when compared to bringing in “an outsider”.

However before putting your former employees top of the list for recruitment the risks of re-hiring also need to be taken into account.

Whilst there are advantages when the existing staff already know the new recruit and might be able to vouch for them could it cause some resentment? A former colleague may be stepping into a position that a loyal long-serving employee may have set their heart upon. There is also the risk that there were unresolved disagreements. Will their return be welcomed? Consideration needs to be given as to why the person left the organisation?

Similarly, whilst their knowledge of the firm and familiarity might have advantages, it can also work against the returning employee if they are counting on that – the business could have been through a lot of the change since they left. This could make what they thought would be a smooth transition back into the workplace a much more difficult exercise.

All things considered second time around, the returning employee will probably have a much bigger impact on the firm than the first. Whether that will be for better or worse, that’s still up for debate.

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