Hiring Your Ex: It's Time To Look At Corporate Alumni

Are you overlooking a key talent pool?

We know the story all too well. The relationship ends, the respective parties move on and the chapter closes for good. But, does it really have to be that way? Let’s look at the benefits of staying friends with your ex and hiring corporate alumni.

So, is taking back an ex a good idea?

It is no secret that today, people change jobs more frequently than ever before. More specifically, Tony Audino, a Founder of Microsoft Alumni Network, stated back in 2018 that “More than 20 percent of workers change roles every year” while further predicting that the amount of disruption in the workforce will only increase in the upcoming years. It turns out that he was absolutely right. The market has never been tighter and more candidate-driven than it is today.

However, The Alumni Enterprise recently reported that an astonishing 72% of past employees would return to the company they used to work for! Additionally, the same source says that 24% of employees who turnover end up regretting their decision to leave.

With that being said, rekindling things with you ex and staying in touch with your former employees makes a lot of sense in today’s competitive job market. Not only does this group of talent know your company, but you also know them, their skills, talents, strengths and even weaknesses.

“There’s no recruitment method more cost- or time-efficient than rehiring reliable former employees,” wrote Issie Lapowsky of Inc. Magazine. “Some businesses call them corporate alumni. Some call them boomerangs, but almost all businesses will admit that rehiring top performers can drastically increase their return on investment.”

The benefits or recruiting corporate alumni

  • They already know the company. Ex employees know the company inside and out. They are familiar with your people, culture, systems, and processes. In other words, they know what to expect. This reduces the risk of a (culture) misfit considerably.
  • They reach their OPL faster. Since corporate alumni already know their way around the company, they’ll need less training and time to reach their Optimum Productivity Level (OPL).
  • They bring new perspectives. An employee who has worked for a different company for a while has probably learned new skills and experienced new and different ways of doing things. As a result, they bring fresh perspectives when they come back.
  • It’s cost-effective. Hiring an ex employee can be interesting from a financial point of view too. Not only do they need less training and time to become fully operational, it also takes less effort to recruit them.
  • They boost employee morale. When a former employee returns to their previous employer, they implicitly – and perhaps even explicitly – tell other employees that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. Otherwise, why would they’ve come back?

Where do you begin when it comes to rehiring?

We know that making the first move can be awkward, so we look at the things you can do to optimise your rehiring process and minimise drawbacks.

Maintain a talent pool

When employees leave your organisation, stay in touch by adding them to your talent pool. Doing so allows you to send them updates on the latest developments within the company, vacancies and other relevant information.  The candidates in your talent pool aren’t limited to just former employees with a permanent, full-time contract, by the way. A contingent worker – meaning a freelancer, independent contractor, consultant, etc. – who performed satisfactorily and who fit in the company culture should also be added to your talent pool.

Develop an Alumni Program

A Corporate Alumni program will help you build and maintain relationships with your former employees, but you have to ensure your program has a clear goal. What will the framework be and how will you promote it? Will you provide access to discounts or special perks? Will you host events or activities? How will you keep in touch?

An Alumni Program benefits the organisation by:

  • Creating advocates for life and ensuring that an employee exit isn’t necessarily the end of a relationship
  • Building on your talent pipeline for access to qualified boomerangs or potential re-hires.
  • Strengthening your employer brand – it says a lot about your organisation’s values if ex-employees are willing to advocate for you
  • Increasing loyalty amongst current employees when they see the value you add for alumni

Interview before you rehire

While it may be tempting to jump back into the familiar deep-end and skip this part of the hiring process altogether, we don’t recommend it. It is still important to have an interview process in place to:

  • Understand why they left in the first place (if you didn’t have an exit interview) and if you did, you can compare the reasons and see if the same issues might still apply.
  • Ask the former employee the same questions as any other candidate so you’ll be able to assess and score all candidates fairly.
  • Set expectations on both sides

Re-board

Things have undoubtedly changed since your ex former employee left the company, even if they were gone for a relatively short period of time. New people may have joined, old colleagues may have moved on and new ways of working have perhaps replaced old ones. This is why you will need to have a re-boarding process in place for your boomerang employees. Elements you may want to cover include:

  • New systems and technologies the employee will be using + relevant training
  • Remote work and office policies
  • Team collaboration practices and team building activities

You can use your existing employee onboarding process as a basis and adjust it where necessary to create your re-boarding program.

Rehiring a former employee can be highly beneficial for your organisation. Your alumni know the culture of your company and they can bring a fresh perspective to the business.

If you’d like to talk to us about ways to re-engage previous employees, get in touch!

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