Rehiring Former Employees? 5 Tips to Help You Craft a Solid Rehiring Policy

Rehiring Former Employees? 5 Tips to Help You Craft a Solid Rehiring Policy

Letting go of employees is one of the hardest things to do as a business owner or manager, but it comes with the territory. Sometimes you need to go into cost-cutting mode, and letting your staff go is the only way to stay afloat. In some cases, a person just isn’t a good fit. Regardless of the reason, laying someone off or firing them is never pleasant.

That being said, there may be times when you can bring team members back into your company. Maybe business started picking up again and you can afford to rehire employees. Perhaps you’ve established a new role and know just the former employee who’d be perfect for it. 

Whatever the case, having a rehiring process is a must. Having former employees return isn’t as simple as asking them to come back to work and proceed with business as usual. There are several factors to consider when rehiring employees and onboarding them back into the business. 

This post will explore the ins and outs of rehiring previous employees and how to do it right. 

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The benefits of rehiring employees

Bringing previous employees back into the fold makes sense for a number of reasons:

It’s easier to train and onboard past hires

For starters, rehiring past employees will make onboarding and training much easier. Previous team members are already familiar with your business and processes, so you won’t have to spend too much time getting them up to speed. 

They’ll likely fit right back in

From a work culture standpoint, your old hires won’t have too much trouble fitting in. They may already know that people working at your company, and thus they can pick up where they left off when it comes to cultivating professional relationships.

How to implement your rehiring policy

No matter how familiar an employee is with your company, it’s critical to establish a re-hiring and onboarding process. That fact that they’ve worked for you before shouldn’t be taken for granted. Having frameworks and protocols for rehiring employees will ensure a smooth experience for yourself and your team. 

Here’s how to do just that. 

1. Before anything else, make sure you’re ready to rehire employees

Before jumping into the rehiring process, see to it that your business is truly ready to bring people back. 

Be honest: is your company in a good financial position to start hiring again? Do you have sales coming in, cash in the bank, and a plan for what will happen in case of a downturn? These are some tough questions, but it’s critical that you answer them before moving forward. 

As Jennifer Walden, Director of Operations, at WikiLawn puts it, “you need to critically assess your budget and your projections. You don’t want to rehire your entire staff only to lay them off later in the year. It’s a terrible prospect for the employee and it will ultimately hurt the company’s bottom line, too. Make sure you can support each rehire for the long term.” 

Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO at The Energists, echoes this advice and says that you shouldn’t rehire employee unless you’re certain that they’ll be in your company for the long-term. 

In some cases, you may need to ease into the process, adds Hill. “This could mean starting with a partial re-hire, then bringing on more employees gradually if your business continues to be successful.”

2. Determine who you’ll need to hire back (and who are willing to return)

If you’re positive that your business is ready to bring previous employees back into the fold, the next step is to figure out who to rehire. 

According to John Howard, founder and CEO at Coupon Lawn, there are two key things to consider when determining which employees to bring back.

a. The employee’s track record. “You don’t want to rehire employees with bad or poor performance. Always prioritize employees that you think will contribute to the success of your company,” says Howard.

b. Their willingness to return. Don’t assume that past workers want to jump back on board. As Howard explains, “there will be some who couldn’t afford to wait and have already found other employment.”

In reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard points out that other people are ”using this break as an opportunity to pivot their career or make a workplace change they’d already been considering.”

He adds that another possibility is that “laid-off employees may not feel safe returning to work yet, especially those in high-risk categories.”

Whatever the case, if someone isn’t too keen on coming back, don’t take it personally. 

3. Establish a framework for rehiring employees

“Before you start to bring back workers, or even if you’ve already started, you need to establish a framework,” says David Walter, CEO at Electrician Mentor.

According to him, you need to consider several questions, including:

  • Will the worker need another background check/drug screen? 
  • Will they start over from a tenure standpoint? (This can affect raises, paid time off, and other areas.)
  • Will they have to go through the paperwork process again? (Hint: the answer to this one is almost always YES.)

Walter says that addressing these things will make the rehiring experience “as seamless as possible.”

4. Formalize the rehiring process

Just because you’re hiring someone who’s worked at your company before, doesn’t mean they don’t have to go through screening processes and paperwork. Be sure to have these things in place when getting people back on board. 

Michael D.Brown, Director of Fresh Results Institute, recommends mapping out rehire guidelines and procedures for your team. 

According to him, this step may involve:

  • Having employees pass traditional recruitment protocols like background checks or even passing them again through drug tests.
  • Letting them fill out new W-4 and I-9 forms so they can confirm or change their direct deposit and benefits election information.

In terms of compensation, Brown says employers need to carefully put together remuneration and benefits packages. This is especially important if you’ve laid off employees before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“No one is expecting you to pay these employees as heftily as you did during the good old days before the pandemic,” he says. “However, it is mandatory that you spend a minimum of 60% of your secured PPP loan on paying your employees. If you are eyeing forgiveness, then you shouldn’t slash the salaries of your rehired employees by more than 25%. Otherwise, it would reduce your eligibility for forgiveness.”

5. Have your staff go through an onboarding process — and celebrate their return

“Once you rehire the employee, take the time to onboard them well,” advises Craig della Penna, Managing Partner at Aesop Partners, LLC. “We don’t mean have them reread the employee manual and relearn where the bathrooms are, but rather, thoughtfully consider how to reintegrate them into the team.”

Accomplishing that depends on your team and the circumstances in which they were let go. 

“You can count on a certain level of residual resentment or other hurt feelings from them regarding having been the one who was cut but also survivor guilt feelings from those who had been retained and now have their former colleague back in their midst,” della Penna continues.

According to him, you can make the onboarding and integration process smoother by:

Meeting with employees one-on-one. “First, have a one-on-one meeting with the employee welcoming them back and allowing them to ask any questions or express any feelings required for them to be able to move on and return as a fully active and engaged member of the team,” he says. 

You should could also:

  • Bring up important things they missed when they weren’t working in the company. This could include new clients, policies, projects, etc.
  • If dealing with COVID-19, dedicate ample time to discussing your health and safety policies. It may also be necessary to conduct special training around health, hygiene, etc. 

Celebrating the return of your team members. “Have a team meeting to celebrate their return,” recommends Della Penna. “Praise the value you expect them to bring to the team as you help them re-acclimate. Your goal is to ensure that others do not see them as less than due to their temporarily laid-off status and therefore help them to be as effective as it possibly can be in the role.”

Do right by your team and have a proper process for rehiring employees

Rehiring employees is generally a positive step for any business. If you’re thinking of asking former staff members to return, then it’s likely a good sign that your business is bouncing back or doing well. You can keep the momentum going by establishing a good rehiring policy and process that gets former employees back on the right foot and setting them up for success. 

We hope the tips we shared above helps you do just that. 

It’s also important to keep your budget in check and make sure that your business can afford to keep team members for the long-term. Part of doing this means lowering your expenses and ensuring that you’re not overspending.

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