Hire laid off employees, but with caution

Before hiring a laid off employee, it’s important to assess the reason behind the layoff. If it was an economical and business situation, companies should welcome them with open arms, but if it was underperformance or behavioural issues, apply caution.

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The US State of California, recently passed a new law which makes it mandatory for all companies in the hospitality sector to rehire the employees who were laid off due to the COVID19 pandemic, before filling the vacant positions with new candidates post pandemic.

The US-state government may have had its reason to pass this judgement, but does rehiring laid off employees make sense strategically. In India, we do not have any such law, but rehiring employees who have been laid off earlier can have its own pros and cons.

First let’s look at the positives. “Rehired people develop a feeling of faith and trust with the realisation that the layoff is just a temporary procedure to cope with the losses. This happens only when the company undertakes the drive due to some economic reason. In such cases, the employees don’t feel unwanted. Instead, they feel secure under the company’s roof,” says Kamalesh Dangi, group head – HR, Incred.

“If it’s a case of performance-oriented layoffs, rebuilding the workforce with those employees may be a challenge. In every group, there are always some people who fail to develop themselves even after repeated and varying attempts.”

Kamalesh Dangi, group head – HR, Incred

In fact, Dangi’s organisation, Incred is also planning to rehire some of the laid-off employees from a section, which was dissolved for a reason.

“The rehired people will be brought back for the expansion of another section, shortly. This will be conducted on the basis of the closest and matching skills of the laid-off employees to those required for the section under expansion,” he shares with HRKatha.

Talking about the benefits of rehiring laid off employees, Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL), says, “These resources can cater to both the ‘what and how’ of the performance for business deliverables, since they are already culturally aligned with the core values of the organisation, and also possess deep knowledge of the organisational dynamics, to effectively navigate the known stakeholder ecosystem.”

However, it doesn’t mean that companies should go full hog with rehiring laid off employees. It’s a path to be treaded with full caution.

“Organisations should desist from rehiring any laid-off resources who had performance or behavioural challenges, and must take the opportunity to hire the right talent from the market to consciously push up the productivity and talent quotient of the enterprise.”

Amit Das, CHRO, Bennett Coleman & Company

Dangi says, “If it’s a case of performance-oriented layoffs, rebuilding the workforce with those employees may be a challenge. In every group, there are always some people who fail to develop themselves even after repeated and varying attempts.”

“In such cases of performance-based layoffs, the rehiring may add to the disadvantage affecting the productivity at the end,” he opines.

Das of BCCL is also of a similar opinion. “Organisations should desist from rehiring any laid-off resources who had performance or behavioural challenges, and must take the opportunity to hire the right talent from the market to consciously push up the productivity and talent quotient of the enterprise,” he says.

He is of the view that rehiring people who have been laid off in the past for low performance ranking or being low on the behavioural scale is a wastage of resource and time, with negative or neutral effect on productivity.

“Learning, development, upskilling and reskilling don’t just revolve around performance, but also interpersonal communication skills. Therefore, when a person is accused of any misconduct, the liability should be divided between the employees and the employer.”

Pankaj Lochan, executive director and group CHRO, Jindal Steel and Power

Pankaj Lochan, executive director and group CHRO, Jindal Steel and Power, is quite optimistic. He believes even if a person is being laid off on the grounds of misconduct or approach, the organisation has to be accountable and take responsibility to some extent.

“Learning, development, upskilling and reskilling don’t just revolve around performance, but also interpersonal communication skills. Therefore, when a person is accused of any misconduct, the liability should be divided between the employees and the employer,” he says.

Lochan is of the opinion that rehiring such employees can be turned advantageous with proper addressal of the reasons behind layoffs.

“Organisations enjoy the best of trust and dedication on rehiring the laid off employees. They come back with more passion and purpose, which makes the rehired employees’ potential assets for the rest of their tenure. They express the urge to learn more and further develop whatever skills they possess. I would prefer rehiring candidates because they give their best,” Lochan concludes.

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