Rehiring Employees — The Jay Leno Effect

The Effect of Rehiring Employees

The economy for some seems to be improving and as a hiring manager or organizational leader.  You may have experienced or participated in employee and corporate layoffs over the last 6-36 months.  Depending on the size of your organization, economic status, and depth of layoff some of your experienced, knowledgeable, and experience employees may have been part of the collateral damage.  Fast forward to now.  Things are better.  Sales are up, and your team is looking at adding positions to the team.  Or maybe as the economy improves, some of your top talent puts in their resignation to test the new economic waters only to change their mind 30 days, 90 days, or even six months later.

Either way, you are faced with the prospect of the rehire.

The Effect of Rehiring Employees

A rehire, often referred to as a boomerang employee is defined as someone who is returning to work in your organization who has been a former employee in a same or different role.  They left the organization either voluntarily or involuntarily and understand the culture, know the expectations, and are familiar with the environment.

So maybe as the economy has improved, you are eager to add old positions to your team.  These positions could be former talent that you said goodbye to as a result of your restructure.  Or maybe, your employee who left for greener pastures made a mistake.  Depending on your employee rehire policy and your company’s willingness to rehire old talent, you could benefit.

I call this the Jay Leno Effect.

Rehires come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.  Take Jay Leno.  In 2004, NBC brought on Conan O’Brien with the intentions of  replacing Jay Leno as late night show host.  Leno retired as host in 2009 ushering a new era as O’Brien took the lead spot.  Ratings suffered and Leno was effectively rehired into his old position, debuting the new old Late Show in March 2010.

The same holds true for former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz who returned to lead Starbucks, the struggling coffee house chain in early 2008.  Schultz returned to replace Jim Donald as the head coffee bean.   Upon the head bean’s return organizational changes were made resulting in store closures, layoffs, and product offering changes.  It seems that this boomerang made an impact as sales for Starbucks continue to soar since his return.

So how do you tap into this employee rehire market and do you even want to?  So before, you begin rehiring at random, here are some ideas to capture the heart and mind of your rehire:

  • Continue to establish a line of communication. Keep the communication lines open with former employees often referred to as alumni.  This could be through Linked In alumni networks or an alumni newsletter.  Be creative but don’t badger.
  • Demonstrate value. This means giving something to your alumni community first that creates value, conversation, and discussion.  Maybe it’s a free resume writing class or webinar.  Create value and put yourself in the shoes of your alumni network.  What’s important to them should be what you’re writing/talking to them about.
  • Build a rehire database. Just like a talent pipeline within your organization, your rehire community and database should include ratings, information, and insights from previous managers and management.  Build your most wanted list and target your must hires and re-hires.
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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ed Han says

    Excellent suggestions, I particularly like the rehire database idea. A number of very large organizations do maintain official current/alumni employee LinkedIn groups, so I’m a big fan of their utility.



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