The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Getting Back Together With Your Ex (Employee)

Rehiring a former employee is like getting back together with an “ex.”

Initially, it sounds like a great idea. There were some good times, and, both parties already know each other — so, no surprises. It’s certainly tempting, especially because you’ve got a job to fill RIGHT NOW. But like that previously severed amorous relationship, this rekindled employment arrangement is also doomed to fail.

Why? Because there are way too many things working against it. To start, this individual has already once left the organization. For one or more reasons. So unless these issues (which may or may not have surfaced during an exit interview) have been miraculously resolved, expect that they will start bothering your rehire again.

If the individual had left the organization before because, well, you had asked that he leave the organization, then either your previous decision was terrible, or your current decision is worse.

Also, it’s important to be mindful of rehiring an employee at a higher salary or a higher position. Justified or not, your other employees (who, loyally, did not leave the company), could easily interpret this to mean that real advancement begins by walking out the door.

Ultimately, like many other decisions, it comes down to risk versus reward. Is this individual so good that you are willing to overlook these obstacles and risk damaging employee morale? If so, green light the hire, but then figure out why you are letting this caliber of employee become an “ex” in the first place.