The Art of Recycling…Employees

Recycle-EEs--WEBA “new trend” is the rehiring of employees. In fact, one small study reveals that hiring a CEO for the second time can result in higher stock performance over the immediate predecessor. The word “new” is in quotes as in the hotel industry, this has been fairly common over the years and someone who leaves a hotel as your bus person or housekeeper, could very well return in a couple of years as your general manager. I’ve been rehired twice, once by a hotel and once by a utility company. While this may be a “new” trend, a point is made in an article in HR Magazine that it is becoming more frequent. Why is this? I’m glad you asked.

This is yet another trend in the wonderful world of work that we can blame on the younger generations. They figured out that the gold watch is not really worth all that much for a lifetime of loyal work. The younger generations change jobs and careers like some people change socks…frequently. This phenomenon has created yet another phenomenon referred to in the article as an “alumni” of an organization. Here’s how it works.

Some organizations create an alumni network of previous employees that offers special perks for its members such as newsletters and membership in a social network. In addition, some of these alumni networks even hold events to which members of the network can be invited as a perk. LinkedIn offers the military model of a tour of duty. Employees are offered a four year tour of duty. At the midpoint of those four years, a conversation is held to discuss the continuation of the tour. During the discussion the decision is made as to whether the tour will continue or if the employee, “by mutual agreement”, moves on. Of course, there are pros and cons to this whole idea of recycling employees. Here are several pros.

  1. Maintaining positive relationships via the alumni network can produce ‘brand ambassadors’ who sing the praises of the organization.
  2. Job search time is reduced and on-boarding and other training costs are reduced for the organization.
  3. Former employees may become clients.
  4. Those who have left can provide a wider knowledge of industry expertise.
  5. When returning, employees can bring a wider knowledge, insider information, and will be able to hit the ground running thus reducing training expense and time.
  6. Previous employees are better able to recommend new hires as they are familiar with the culture and who will fit and who will not succeed in your organization.
  7. Employees who leave your organization can find work quicker through the alumni connections. Further, the alumni network may even boast having a job bank.

Of course, there’s always the dark side of a situation. Here are some items to be wary about when rehiring.

  1. Has the former employee changed his or her bad habits or attitudes?
  2. Others may resent the individual being rehired and morale may suffer.
  3. Be sure you know why this individual left or was asked to leave the first time. If you hire someone who was stealing, or who had an issue with a co-worker might just be a recipe for disaster.
  4. You may face the possibility of being sued for discrimination by an internal employee who was vying for the open position. Communicating reasons for the rehire to these and other employees would be a good idea.
  5. Be sure you understand rehire rules according to ERISA and EEOC.
  6. If rehiring someone who was fired for arguing with his or her boss, someone who was fired for sexual harassment, or a drug offender, you may set yourself up for being sued for negligent hiring should there be a reoccurring incident. You may wish to impart additional agreements and stipulations from the rehire in such cases. Although, according to an Atlanta attorney, James Wimberly, these may be toothless tigers.

Clearly, recycling employees holds some treasure like elements, it also has the potential to dump trash elements into the organization that may prove to be totally unartistic.

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