Pros and Cons of Hiring Former Employees

Written by: Adam Vortherms

The question of whether or not to rehire former employees is not always a cut and dried issue. It’s true that returning employees are familiar with company culture and operational procedures. However, there’s still some amount of baggage that a former employee brings with them. So, how can a conscientious hiring manager determine if rehiring a former employee is a good idea? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.


First, let’s consider why it might be beneficial to recruit and hire former employees. There are many compelling reasons to hire former employees; as long as the original parting occurred on good terms, they can be considered valuable resources who can hit the ground running. Also:

  • They might return to you with more experience, more highly developed skills, and fresh ideas
  • They can potentially save you time and money in the training process by already being familiar with company culture and procedures
  • They may have a higher retention rate; they’ve spent time away and wanted to come back and may want to stay where they are for a while
  • When rehiring a former employee, you send a message to your current employees, your industry and top talent in your field that you value your workers, which boosts morale and makes you attractive to talented candidates


With all that in mind, here are some reasons why hiring a former employee might be a bad idea:

  • If a significant amount of time has passed since they left, the cost of the onboarding and training process for the rehired worker could be the same as a brand-new employee, primarily if new equipment or procedures have been implemented
  • If they had a conflict with a coworker or manager who is still there, rehiring a former worker can reignite friction, damaging morale and productivity
  • They might not be the absolute best candidate for the job, despite their familiarity with the company
  • There might be some residual feelings of resentment on both sides of the equation; if they left the first time because they quit, hiring managers and coworkers might worry about being left high and dry, while, in the case of a layoff, the employee might harbor hard feelings and  be worried about it happening again
  • Current employees might feel threatened if the rehired employee comes back to a high-level job or position of authority 

How to effectively recruit and rehire former employees

There are things hiring managers can do to ensure that they are making the right decision when it comes to considering rehiring former employees. When top or valued talent leaves, either by choice or due to layoffs, emphasize the following in exit interviews:

  • Get useful feedback from them: find out how they felt about their time with the company to asses if they would be a good culture fit a second time around
  • Communicate to them that they would be welcome back sometime in the future
  • Connect to them on professional networking sites like LinkedIn.
  • Put them in a positive candidate pipeline so that if they do apply, they are given priority
  • Before rehiring, review performance reviews and files and talk to former managers and coworkers to ensure that they did not leave on bad terms with coworkers or managers

Additionally, your company should have a strategy for communicating with alumni for news and recruitment purposes.

When it comes down to it, rehiring former employees should be taken on a case by case basis. The better records hiring managers keep, the easier it will be to assess if an employee who has already demonstrated value should rehired. Effective processes of interviews, reviews, and communication will provide sufficient information.  While there are challenges with recruiting former employees, the potential benefits make it all worthwhile.