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For most people, getting fired means that the door to that company is closed completely. Most bosses aren’t going to go to all of the trouble of terminating someone if they aren’t completely sure that the person is not suitable for the position, or if the employee does something so egregious that termination is the only option.

Except there have been cases in which the words “you’re fired” didn’t exactly mean, “You’re gone forever.” While the likelihood of someone being rehired for the exact same position under the exact same supervisor is usually unlikely, fired employees might find that they can land a different position within the company, or do similar work if they can prove that they have made changes to address the deficiencies that led to their dismissal in the first place.

The issue of rehiring a fired employee can potentially be a contentious one, and needs to be handled with care. The potential fallout could hurt morale — and if you make a bad decision, you could find yourself in the position of having to terminate again. At the same time, rehiring an employee could prove to be a great boost to productivity and morale in the company. So how do you decide?

3 Pros of Rehiring a Former Employee

There are several good reasons that you should consider rehiring an employee who has been let go in the past, whether for the same or a different position.

1. Improved Morale

Sometimes, a fired employee is a popular one, and his or her termination leads to decreased morale among the other employees, especially when the decision comes as a surprise. Not only does bringing a well-liked and respected employee back into the fold make people happy, it also sends a message that, as an employer, you are willing to be fair and give people second chances.

2. Correction of Deficiencies

One of the most important parts of the termination process is to outline the specific reasons for the firing. Simply saying, “You’re not a good fit,” is not enough; you have to give the employee specific reasons for his or her termination.

If the decision was made due to performance reasons, but the employee can prove that those deficiencies have been corrected, then it may be worth giving him or her another chance, especially if there weren’t any other problems.

3. Smoother Transition

Employees who have worked for your company before already “know the ropes” and tend to have an easier time assimilating into your company culture. You may even be able to save time and money, since you may not have to provide as much training to someone who has worked at your company before.

3 Cons of Rehiring a Former Employee

Of course, for all of the potential upsides of hiring a former employee, there are some drawbacks as well. For example:

1. Morale Could Suffer

While the return of a popular employee may be applauded, someone who had contentious relationships or caused drama can cause those feelings to resurface.

Employees might also feel that there is no incentive to perform, since even if you get fired, you can just come back to work.

2. Problems May Still Exist

Even if the employee appears to have corrected deficiencies, there is always a chance that they could still have problems, or that old behaviors and habits could return. You might find yourself having to address those problems again.

3. Resentment

Former employees who return and begin taking on plum assignments can incur the wrath of others. There could be a sense that the new-old employee has not yet paid his or her dues and earned those assignments. That could cause resentment, gossip, and even destructive behavior.

Things to Consider Before Rehiring an Employee

Opting to rehire a former employee is not an easy decision, nor should it be made as a knee-jerk reaction or a means to avoid doing the hard work of the hiring process. Turning to a former employee to fill a role in order to prevent having to interview a large number of candidates or complete the full onboarding process rarely works, and is bound to backfire. You can use our services to recruit new employees if you’re trying to reduce your workload.

Terminated employees who wish to come back to your company should have to go through the same hiring process as any other candidate, although it’s reasonable to expect that you will scrutinize those applications more closely than others.

Among the factors that you should consider include:

  • The circumstances of the termination. How serious was the offense, and how were other employees impacted by it?
  • The former employee’s relationships with co-workers.
  • How will rehiring affect other employees?
  • What steps has the former employee taken to correct deficiencies?
  • In what capacity would the employee be working? A different position in a different department might not create the same animosity or issues as someone returning to work in the same department.
  • Are there any legal issues associated with bringing someone back to the company?

Determining whether to rehire a former employee can be a difficult decision. Much depends on the circumstances of the termination, and the overall affect that someone’s return can have on the company. As they say, time heals all wounds, and it might just be that time away can turn a poor employee into a great one.

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