Rehiring someone you laid off can be really good for your business.
Does that make you raise an eyebrow? No wonder — you're probably thinking of that employee who spent all day planting vegetables on Facebook, or told your most valued customer he or she was a dinosaur who needed to get with the times.
But what about those valued employees who you would have kept if you could? The hyper-efficient assistant you couldn't afford to keep or the skilled production manager you didn't have enough work for?
How do you know when to rehire and when to consign that employee file to the back of the filing cabinet? And how do you weigh up the pros and cons of rehiring?
The Employee You Should Consider Re-Hiring
This is really simple: The employee you should consider re-hiring is the one you were truly sorry to see go.
The employee who bonded well with the rest of the team, did their job to a high standard, and was a delight to work with. For small business owners, especially in these economic times, it's all too easy to find you're just not in a position to keep your business running at its current size.
But, with time and growth, you may find that in the future you do have the turnover you need to take on more employees.
At that point you may decide to contact a former employee — but be sure to weigh up the pros and cons (we'll get to those in a moment).
Don't Call Us, We'll Call You
On the other hand, there are some employees you should never consider re-hiring.
You've guessed it: the employee you wish you'd never taken on in the first place. The one who called in sick more days than they showed up, passed the buck for mistakes, and clashed with everyone else on the team.
If an employee caused you more than your fair share of headaches, rehiring them will only have you reaching for the painkillers, and is best avoided.
What About Employees Who Are More “Gray”?
Some of your ex-employees will fall into a gray area.
These are people who you mostly liked but who couldn't quite nail that one important task, or who you felt would have been great if only they hadn't clashed so much with Mrs B on the third floor.
It's worth taking a bit of time to weigh up whether anything has changed, whether with them or with your business. Does their current resume show new training and skills?
Has Mrs. B left for pastures new, and you're confident that without her your ex-employee is personable and easy to work with?
Sometimes it's worth putting some effort into helping an ex-employee perform a little better or fit in more smoothly, if they're a good fit in most ways.
Reasons to Rehire
Provided you choose an employee you would genuinely like to see back, re-hiring can have some real benefits for your business:
Reasons to Avoid Re-Hiring
You know what to expect — you already know your employee, how they work, and their strengths and weaknesses;
They know what to expect — your employee already knows your company and how it works — even if there have been some changes, they'll know the basics;
You'll save money — re-hires typically need less training and orientation than new hires, saving you money;
Good for morale — re-hiring shows your team that you care about them and will welcome people back into the fold if you can.
Depending on why they left and how you handle their return, re-hiring comes with its own problems:
Remember, whether it was a sad goodbye or a quiet punch in the air when the door shut is a good indicator of whether you should consider re-opening that door or not.
Tense atmosphere — if your employee was angry at being laid off, the tension in your company could get pretty thick;
Sense of entitlement — you might find your new-old employee feels they are entitled to better treatment than some of your newer staff members, because they are an old-timer;
Resentment in your team — some members of your team might perceive your re-hired employee as getting preferential treatment, and resent you for it.
If you choose your re-hire wisely, your business stands to benefit, and it will be a happy homecoming.
Tristan Anwyn is a freelance copywriter who specializes in alternative health, marketing, SEO, and online reputation. He has worked for clients across the board and enjoys helping them to express their unique selling points in a clear, concise way.