Prodigals do Return to the Fold, Sometimes | DCR Workforce Blog

Prodigals do Return to the Fold, Sometimes

The parable of the Returning Prodigal Son has the father running to receive him, comfort him and celebrate his return – but would a hiring manager, who recognizes an applicant for a job opening as someone who had left the company, (in the recent or not so recent past) welcome the returning employee with open arms or… chuck that resume in the dustbin and reach for the hand-sanitizer?

But, not so fast! If I were the hiring manager, I would give the situation some serious consideration before deciding either way. Remember, the old school system of having loyal and committed employees who worked with only one company all their lives are passé.  What’s more, breaking in a new hire requires a lot of investment in terms of time, training expenses and loss of productivity!

Taking a look at their record in terms of performance and team relations all the way down to the exit interview may be recommended before the resume gets trashed. This is advised because there are some undeniable advantages to getting old hires back. A review of the old records will tell you exactly where you stand with the applicant, and how they would perform, if you get them back on board.

Start by considering why the employee left.  Was the company downsizing, causing the former employee to take action out of fear of being the next to be terminated?  Was there a structural change that altered the individual’s reporting structure?  Was the employee an intern or contractor whose assignment ended?  Were there personal issues that required a change in location, hours or other factors?  Even if the worker was terminated, it may be necessary to probe further to see if termination was due to a performance issue.

  • There are many benefits to re-hiring individuals who left for reasons other than performance: The recruitment process takes little time, as there is no need for skill assessment and other verifications can be quickly completed.
  • The candidate would know the ropes of the job thoroughly and would hit the deck running, eager to prove his worth and needing no training (unless you made major systemic changes to the work processes between their departure and return), and may bring in new or different skills acquired in the interim.
  • He/she may also bring some unexpected insights into how the competition performs as well as some suggestions for improvement if their work in the interim happened to have taken them to a competitor.
  • The candidate would fit the organization’s culture, having already experienced it once.
  • This time around, chances are he/she would stick around -lowering the threat of attrition all around as negative experiences outside the company are shared with colleagues – old and new!
  • The worker’s return sends a very positive signal to others, encouraging other alumni to re-establish contact with you.

The savings on training costs are a major consideration. The learning curve for a former employee would be short and they can bring in better value addition vis-à-vis the new hires, proving productive from day 1.

Aware of all these nuances, savvy individuals are investing time and energy into maintaining their relationship with their former employers, and staying on good terms with their previous managers and others who hold a positive opinion of them and their potential. In many cases, economic conditions forced companies to terminate great employees.  As the economy continues to improve, emphasis has shifted from cost cutting to growth – and these companies are now challenged to ramp up. Seeking out and re-employing individuals who have demonstrated their ability to contribute is a smart business move.

In our next post, we will discuss strategies for finding past employees and getting them to re-apply.  We will also explore the legal nuances and risks of re-hiring old employees.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.