Factors to consider while rehiring former employees

There are push and pull factors at work. It is on management to determine which one is acting in each case.


In the war for talent, it is but natural for employers to feel more comfortable turning to the nearest best option available — former employees—and understandably so. Former employees know the ropes better and are able to get up to speed quicker than a brand new employee. However, the decision to rehire needs to be a sound one rather than a comfortable one. There are many factors to take into consideration before rehiring an ex-employee.

When it comes to rehiring, the decision usually rests with the line managers. They are the ones who will let the HR know that they need a certain employee back, and approve of the hiring.

However, it is essential to understand why the employees being considered for rehiring had left the organisation in the first place, and why they are willing to return.

Rishi Tiwari

While rehiring it is important that we do not become over-critical and be aware of any unconscious biases because we already know that person in advance

People usually come back for two reasons—a push factor or a pull factor. A pull factor is when the organisation asks the employee to come back, and this usually happens on the request of the line manager. In a push situation, it has to be understood why the employee wants to leave the current organisation. In such situations, HR has to be smart. There may be cases where the former employee actually talks with the line manager, following which the line manager recommends her or him. This kind of recommendation from a line manager cannot be considered genuine.

Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CPO, South Indian Bank, says, “HR has to be sharp to sniff out such situations. The decision to approve and recommend usually comes from the line managers only.”

Another important thing is that the process followed needs to be tweaked according to the employee who is coming back. Most companies have a rehiring policy they refer to in such situations.

For former employees, the process of returning to their previous position, would be the same as the one followed for any other new hire. The only difference is that the interview process may be skipped since the person is already known to the company. However, that changes if the person is joining another department. Here, the process will be exactly the same as for any other employee.

Job hopping is a common scenario and can be good in the short run to get a pay jump. In the case of boomerang employees, they may expect to get a 20 per cent jump, while rejoining a former company. It is up to the smartness and sharpness of the HR to recognise people who leave and return only to gain a higher remuneration.

Chandrasekhar Mukharjee

HR has to be sharp to sniff out such situations. The decision to approve and recommend usually comes from the line managers only


Rehiring policies include compensation and benefits as well.

Rehiring should not hurt the existing employees of the organisation in any way, which is why companies look at the kind of remuneration that is fixed. If the employee who is coming back was due for a promotion or an increment, then of course the same should be provided upon rejoining. However, matching up to existing employees’ level of compensation and benefits is something HR needs to be careful to avoid. Otherwise, the existing employees might feel penalised for staying and that can result in downing the morale of the staff. Most organisations will avoid this so that people do not feel devalued.

Yet another factor that needs to be looked at is the period between leaving and rejoining. Matters are different for employees who are joining after a short span of two or three years, compared to someone who is joining the force after duration of around eight to ten years. In the first case, the rehiring policies of compensation and benefits will apply. That is, the boomerang employee’s package will not be on the same level as the existing employees in a similar position. Due credit, such as promotion and increment will still be applicable in this case.

In the latter case, they will be welcomed like any other employee with experience. Employees who have gone out into the world and gained new skills and experience will have something valuable to offer on their return. Compensation and benefits, therefore, will be provided at the market rate for experienced returnees. Internal parity is given more thought only when they return soon.

These are some of the potential pitfalls and considerations to keep in mind while making the decision to rehire a former member. However, it is not a one-size-fit all situation and nuances of rehiring may differ from people to people and organisation to organisation. For instance, in the case of seniority, the process becomes either more stringent or less so. A senior person who wants to come back will be asked a lot more questions than a junior-level employee.

While being aware of the steps, it is also important to maintain balance and not go overboard with the critical questions. Rishi Tiwari, cluster director-HR, Hilton, says, “While rehiring it is important that we do not become over-critical and be aware of any unconscious biases because we already know that person in advance.”

The idea of rehiring may seem like an easy one, but it is always important to discuss expectations. People have a number of different reasons for coming back and each aspect needs to be handled with due consideration.

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