An HR Professional’s Guide to Rehiring Laid-off Employees

Developed countries worldwide, the US included, lost about 22 million jobs due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Companies had to lay off a significant chunk of their workforce out of necessity. This is compounded by the fact that many companies were unable to break even during the pandemic.

Now that COVId 19 cases are on the decline and the economy is back on its feet, companies are rehiring laid-off employees. This is a much better alternative than looking for new workers with zero experience working with you. It will save you the time and money needed to orient and train the new employees on their specific roles.

It’s super important to have protocols and policies for rehiring employees that you laid off. This ensures the seamless re-integration of previous employees back into the company. As an HR professional, it’s your responsibility to get previous employees back to working status.

Today’s post is a comprehensive guide on how HR professionals can rehire laid-off employees.

Analyze Your Cash Flow First

Before you get fired employees back on board, the first step is to check your company’s current cash flow. You don’t want a situation where you’re rehiring them only to fire them again. That’s very unethical and completely unacceptable.

Analyzing your current cash flow ensures that the company has the financial capacity to pay all the employees you plan on rehiring. You should figure out how much income the company currently generates and projected revenue trends. This is especially crucial after a financial crisis like the pandemic or the 2008 housing crisis.

If you’re barely breaking even, your company might not be ready to rehire fired employees. In fact, you should think of it like just hiring new employees. If you can’t afford any new employees, you can’t afford to hire back the ones you laid off.

Audit All Vacant Positions

The next step is to audit all vacant positions that the rehires will fill in. Are the positions still vacant? Is the rehire right for the job?

The company may have made a few changes that altered or filled in the previously vacant position. Make sure the employees you plan on rehiring actually have places to fill in your company. Also, check whether rehiring the employee in question is a prudent decision.

The company may have fired the employee because of errant behavior. It’s up to you to determine whether rehiring the employee is a good idea. Rehiring employees that add zero value is detrimental to the company’s growth and profitability.

It’s important that all employees you plan on rehiring go through the usual interview and orientation process. The former ensures that the rehire is a proper fit for the company. Orientation helps get the employees up to speed on what changed while they were away.

Aside from the interviews, don’t forget to perform background checks and check all qualifications and references. Remember, you don’t always have to rehire your previous employees. If they don’t meet your expectations, you can let them go permanently.

Understand the Organization’s Requirement

You’ve already worked with the employee before. However, one or two things may have changed while they were away. It’s necessary to perform a little screening before getting the employee back on board. Go thorough screening, consider looking into stuff like

  • Employment exclusions and sanctions
  • Drug presence via drug tests and screening
  • License status to check for revocations or suspensions
  • Criminal history

Make sure the employee checks all the right boxes before rehiring them. You don’t want to let back an incompetent or malicious employee back into your workforce.

Talk to Supervisors and Colleagues of the Rehire

Talking to the supervisors and colleagues of the employee you plan to rehire always works for the best. This will help you make a more informed decision about rehiring the employee in question. Make sure you ask the employee’s associates the right questions to get a clear picture of the employee.

Some of these questions include:

  • How well did they perform the task you allocated to them?
  • Do you think the employee was a good fit for the company?
  • How would you describe the employee’s relationship with fellow workmates?
  •  Did you have any difficulties working with the employee?
  • Why did you lay off the worker in question?

Consider holding a meeting with the employee’s manager to better understand the employee’s conduct. This meeting should focus on the employee’s conduct, performance, and any previous disciplinary actions. It should culminate in a conclusive decision on whether rehiring the employee is a good idea.

Inform the Entire Company About the Rehiring Operation

Don’t rehire any employees back until you inform the entire company about the decision. It’s important to be super transparent about the incoming personnel and any changes in the workforce. This ensures that the rehiring process is fair, transparent, and in line with company policies.

Remember, there are plenty of current employees looking to get rehired. Some may find it a little unfair that you would hire other former employees and leave them out. This could bring controversy and raise questions over the rehiring process.

You need to be clear about your hiring process and show you followed all company policies when rehiring. The right rehiring process could even consider former employees to re-apply for a position at your company. You could do with the extra talent and labor every once in a while.

Establish What Documents Need Signing Before You Can Rehire Former Employees

Since the employees have worked with the company before, it’s hard to tell whether they should be re-signing any documents. However, most documents the former employees signed became void once you showed them the door. As such, the employees probably have to sign them again.

It’s up to you to determine what documents they need to sign again. Having employees resign all the documents is a waste of time and money. You have to lock down on a few crucial documents that employees actually need to sign again.

These documents may include direct deposit forms and contract agreements if applicable. Signing these documents mark the final steps to making the rehire official. Don’t forget to inform your employees of the benefits rehires are eligible for.

It’s also a good idea to inform them of their rights and any employment perks. Remember to be a bit lenient with your return employees if you want them to stay. They may have other job offers they’ve turned down for your company.

Consider Offering Part-Time Positions

If the company can’t afford to rehire full-time employees, consider hiring them on a part-time basis. However, be sure to inform them of the changes in their previous positions. That’s because some employees may not be comfortable working part-time positions.

However, rehiring for part-time is a good idea if your company isn’t fully back on its feet. Liaise with various departments to see if they’re any part-time positions that need filling.

Take Rehires Through the Rehire Process

At this point, you have one rehire or a group of rehires ready to get to work. It’s time to get them back to business, and it’s on you to do so. The eighth step is taking your rehire through the onboarding process.

A comprehensive onboarding process is especially important if the employee’s position changed during the rehiring. There might also be a couple of changes in the department that the employee might not be aware of. The onboarding process ensures that they are up-to-date and smoothly transition back to work.

Also, ensure that employees get all relevant company information pertinent to their department. In case of any new protocols or policies, be sure to inform the rehires about them. Plus, not all employees will remember company policies or their main roles and responsibilities.

A proper onboarding process ensures that employees do their jobs proficiently and successfully. It only takes a short while before your employees are back in proper working form.

Welcome Them Onboard

The last step is to welcome all your rehires on board. It’s important to touch base to ensure employees get back into the work culture. Welcome back to the company and check on them every once in a while to gauge their progress.

The new rehires should be an excellent addition to your current team if you follow the above steps to the letter. You can use software like Workbright HR software to streamline HR operations, including keeping track of and paying your rehires.

What Are the Benefits of Rehiring Fired Employees

There are many instances where employees leave their companies only to come back after a few years. There are lots of benefits of rehiring previous employees over hiring new ones. Here are a couple of these benefits.

Already Familiar With the Job

Previous employees are already familiar with their roles and responsibilities in your company. You don’t have to waste a lot of time and resources on training them. However, as mentioned above, some training is important to get your employees back into work mode.

More Dedication and Commitment

Any employee that asks to get their job back is likely to come on with greater commitment and dedication to the job. A little break from work can completely change their perception of a job they previously took for granted. It exposes values and aspects of the job they didn’t see before.

This renewed vigor and alacrity is great for work productivity. Your rehires will likely give you nothing less than their very best.

Helps Save on Recruitment Costs

The average cost of hiring a new employee is about $4000. That’s why most companies aren’t too keen on hiring new employees. Rehiring your old employees is a great way to sidestep hefty recruitment costs.

Rehiring your laid-off employees is a way more feasible alternative compared to recruiting new ones. This is especially true considering most companies are reeling back from a financially devastating pandemic. 

Boosts Workplace Motivation

Imagine your employees’ reaction when one of their favorite workmates is back on board. They’ll be ecstatic, and this translates to improved motivation in the workplace. Rehiring is also proof that you care about your employees and treat them like family.

If your employees lack motivation because of recent layoffs, consider rehiring previous employees to bring life back into the workplace. In fact, rehiring fired employees could bring your employees closer than they were before.

Take Advantage of New Skills

Your former employees may have worked brief stints at other companies before accepting your job offer. They may have garnered one or two skills that could come in handy while working at your company. Leverage these new skills to your advantage by rehiring former employees.

When Is Rehiring Laid-Off Employees a Good Idea?

Rehiring laid-off employees isn’t always a good idea but it’s very beneficial in specific situations. So when should you rehire employees you previously laid off? 

You should rehire employees when the company recovers from a financial or market slump. That’s because your business will have the financial muscle to accommodate additional employees. It also means you can capitalize on the improving market conditions.

It’s also a good idea to rehire employees that have left your company on good terms. Don’t rehire employees that may still be harboring grudges from the previous layoff. Your rehires should be willing to put the past behind them and get to serious work.

Rehire Your Former Employees the Right Way

The information above should make rehiring laid-off employees a walk in the park. Ask a former employee to come back and don’t make them regret their decision. Rehiring former employees always work for the best if you do it right. For more informative reads, be sure to check out the other pieces on the site.