Keeping or Tossing Former Employees

May 27, 2020 | 370 views

Keeping or Tossing Former Employees
Keeping or Tossing Former Employees

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, unemployment made hiring qualified employees a challenge. It was a market where employees often found improved job opportunities elsewhere and then left a company to enhance their income and career growth. Few of these employees were interested in returning to their original workplace when things were good. Instead, hiring managers were left scrambling for good prospects to fill positions.

Times, however, have changed for many of our customers and their staff. With high numbers of furloughed or laid-off workers, hiring managers have the luxury of a large pool of former employees and new prospects as they ramp up business. The economic downturn means that staffing up with new or prior employees is a choice. Why would you choose to rehire (or discard) a prior employee as you fill your staffing needs?

To Keep or Not to Keep

It wasn’t that long ago, in an economy with the lowest unemployment ratings in decades, that managers worked to retain employees. However, with the opportunity that we currently have, it could be a bad idea to rehire some of your prior employees:

  1. You’ll be a smaller company. If this is true for your organization, it is time to cull through your list of former employees and eliminate the ones that were not the best before. Use this opportunity to whittle down your preferred list of excellent employees to rehire. Others might return later, but start with your best.
  2. They didn’t perform well when working from home. Chances are that more businesses will adopt a WFH model. If the last few months made clear that a particular employee was not agile enough to adapt to new circumstances, this is a good time to let them go. The future demands skills in flexibility, and the rigid employee will break in the continually shifting new world after a pandemic.
  3. You might get someone else for a lower wage. Workers will be hungry to earn money if they have not had a paycheck. With a glut of prospective employees, it might make sense to get fresh blood at a lower price than you were paying before. Lower labor costs will improve profit margins immediately as you get back up to full-speed operations.

However, there are also solid reasons to rehire your former employees and get them back on the schedule:

  1. It’s less expensive. Recruiting, hiring, and training are very costly. If a former employee is the right one for the job, it makes excellent financial sense to rehire that person. Even if the pay rate is higher than a new person, a rehire becomes productive much sooner and could save you money in the tremulous first months of economic recovery.
  2. Both of you know the personality fit. Former employees understand the company culture. This can be one of the hardest parts to predict with new employees. By hiring a former employee, both sides can slip right into the familiar space where both sides understand how to perform best.
  3. You are more than co-workers. We have jointly experienced a substantial shift to our personal and professional lives. The shared experience of this year could make building the future together a thing of joy. It should make financial sense, of course, but if your colleagues were also part of a larger work family, your familial senses could outweigh other considerations.

Labor and employment costs are usually the highest expense for any organization. As we re-expand our operations, a keen eye to cost is critical for future success, but deciding whom to keep (or not) is admittedly difficult after so many tough months of turmoil.


Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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