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Should former employees be welcomed back?

What happens when someone leaves for a job at another company but then wants to come back?

Do you welcome them into the fold, or do you take a pass based on the idea the employer-employee relationship is over? It is an interesting dilemma, particularly if it involves someone who did a good job before she moved on.

The first reaction might be to decline because it can be difficult to go back. After someone has left, it is easy for a company to move forward after a period of "mourning." If a replacement has already been hired, it can be difficult to bring someone back because it may not be a simple or comfortable fit.

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There is also the issue of corporate loyalty. If an employee decided to leave for whatever reason, there have to be concerns they could leave again, even if it's for a different reason than the original one. The last thing you want to do is rehire someone only to see them leave again - it would be doubly demoralizing for existing employees.

There are, however, situations where rehiring someone makes sense. For the employee, it may be that life on the other side isn't as green. After thinking an opportunity or company would be different or better, the reality of working for someone else may not be what he expected.

Employees may decide to leave when a company is going through a particularly difficult patch. It may seem like a good time to pursue other opportunities, even if they are relatively happy with their current positions. If they decide to leave, they may look back with regret if the prospects of an original employer dramatically improve.

If former employees want to return, here are some questions that need to be asked:

1. Is there a place for them within the company? If they have been replaced, there may simply not be room to hire them back, regardless of their talent.

2. Do you want them back? Once people leave, there may be a sense of betrayal or, at least, disappointment. This could make it difficult to bring them back unless you can let bygones by bygones.

3. Can you be sure they won't leave again? It may mean getting a commitment that they will stay for at least a certain amount of time. If they can't make that kind of commitment, then you probably don't want them back.

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The bottom line is there is risk in rehiring someone who has left for another job. If she has left once, she can leave again. Before welcoming anyone back into the fold, be sure it make sense from a business and personnel point of view.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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About the Author
Content/Communications Strategist

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a strategic communications and content consultancy that works with start-ups and fast-growing companies looking to drive their marketing, communications and content activities. More

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