Rehiring previously outplaced candidates: The Do’s and Don’ts

As the business landscape continues to evolve, retrenchments and downsizing have become a reality for many local businesses – across sectors, industries and organisation sizes. In years gone by, rehiring former employees may not have been accepted as good HR practice; but as trends change, it seems that outplaced candidates are being rehired into their former roles on a contract or project basis to complete critical or time-sensitive initiatives.


ManpowerGroup South Africa’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, explains that for businesses, there are advantages of rehiring outplaced candidates. “For example, the candidate will be skilled, have organisational knowledge, are likely to have established relationships with stakeholders and colleagues, and they will not require any extra training in order to complete their tasks.”


She notes that this can be a win/win situation for both employer and employee, as long as the outplacement process was handled with care and respect and the HR policies and employee engagement strategies are built to support such an approach.


Below is a list of important Do’s and Don’ts, for businesses looking to rehire previously outplaced candidates:


Do: Build a Talent Strategy


The worst time to start looking for skilled employees is when you desperately need them. “Businesses should look ahead and align their talent strategies with their business plans – not only will this ensure a smooth process for both parties, but will allow for the adequate negotiation time on the project/contract,” says van den Barselaar.


Do: Know Your HR Policies


Being familiar with HR policies become increasingly important during processes like outplacement and hiring of candidates. “Factors such as how the outplacement of the candidate was handled, what was communicated to them, and whether any promise of rehire was made are all important to consider during the rehiring process. Management needs to be familiar with all HR related policies and ensure these are followed diligently,” explains van den Barselaar.


Do: Be Clear About Your Needs


Often it is more prudent to rehire employees on a part-time or project specific basis, and then expand hours in future if and when this is needed. “It is important to be clear that job security is based on both employee and company performance,” she says.


Don’t: Ignore Changes


It is important that job descriptions are edited based on the changes within the business, even for returning employees. “Businesses should stick to policies, and interview returning employee as if they are a new hire. Ensure that you discuss expectations on both sides, to ensure success,” says van den Barselaar.


Do: Communicate Openly


“Often, businesses who are outplacing candidates or going through a downsizing will place less importance on communicating with existing/remaining employees. It is important to communicate with both the existing employee base and the rehired candidate regarding the reason behind bringing new talent to the organisation,” she says. The willingness to adapt, change and try new strategies is a sign of strong leadership – and open and clear communication will assist in ensuring employees remain committed and satisfied.


In conclusion, van den Barselaar notes that the employee in question may have different career goals from when they were last employed by the business. “Often, the process of being outplaced can remind candidates about the need for proactive career management, and push them to think harder about their career aspirations and goals. Ensure that, as an employer, you are taking this into account when updating your HR strategies and looking to rehire outplaced candidates.”