If it comes back to you, it is yours!
This anonymous quote has done the rounds so much that most people have heard it somewhere or the other, at least once! So, what has this got to do with one’s workforce? Nothing much, except that it could apply to one’s workforce too – as one’s workers may also want to come back, after parting ways! Many valued employees were lost as companies responded to sluggish economic conditions. In most cases, it was expected that the remaining workers would pick up the slack. Too often, this error in judgment led to a decline in quality, disgruntled employees and permanent loss of knowledge critical to the company’s success. According to a survey, 70% of employers support the notion of rehiring former employees, citing their familiarity with the job and fit with the organizational culture.
Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Companies are reluctant to return to pre-recession staffing levels, and budgets may not support additional headcount. Hiring the individuals as independent contractors is risky, as the IRS may determine that workers who return to essentially the same position as previously held, under the same working conditions, must be treated as permanent employees. A worker misclassification judgment is costly for the employer and worker! This makes it necessary for employers to set new processes in place, engaging former workers as agency contractors. The most effective way to do that is to establish an alumni network the company could tap into when needed.
At the mention of alumni networks, most people think only about former employees. In reality, anyone who has previously worked for a company in any capacity should be part of your alumni network. If you have enjoyed satisfactory performance from a contingent worker, you may wish to re-call the same worker, as and when the need for the worker’s specific skills arises again. If your business is seasonal, and there is a ramp-up period for the workers to become proficient at your operation, you will want to re-engage these individuals each year. Include former interns or work study students who have completed their degrees or are looking for a short-term assignment or summer employment while continuing their studies.
Regardless of worker type, an alumni network requires the maintenance of information pertaining to the worker. You will want to track their updated work history, availability, their eligibility for assignment based upon compliance with tenure and tenure gap requirements, compensation requirements, and positions of interest to them. You will also need to know about the candidate’s prior experience with your company. You will also want safeguards to ensure that all individuals whose prior performance was unsatisfactory for any reason will not be offered as a candidate for a future position.
Leading vendor management systems provide the software needed to effectively support an alumni network. Features should include a portal for alumni to establish and maintain their profiles; alerts when specified jobs are posted; automated verification of eligibility to work; a repository for resumes, required licenses and certifications; automatic submission of candidates against posted positions; and a ‘follow me’ feature so that hiring managers are alerted when a candidate becomes available.
When selecting an agency contractor for reassignment within your company, discuss the expected compensation with the supplier. It is reasonable to assume that, since the agency did not incur sourcing costs, the individual would be made available to you below standard ‘recruited bill rates’. Also clarify expectations regarding options for offering the candidate a permanent position.
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