It’s not a surprise to most of you reading this blog that today’s labor market is B-A-N-A-N-A-S! It is becoming harder and harder to find and retain top talent. Now is the time to really stretch our creative muscles when it comes to our talent acquisition and recruitment strategies. I’d like to highlight two strategies you might consider OUTSIDE THE BOX in today’s blog. You just might be surprised at the outcome.
Consider reaching out to past employees
I know, I know…it sounds strange, right??? Why would we want to reach out to employees who have left for one reason or another? Consider this stat: More than 47 MILLION people walked away from their jobs in 2021. This quickly became known as the Great Resignation. According to a recent Paychex study, 80 percent of the 47 million regret their decision to leave. 80%!!!!! That number is staggering to me. Does this mean 37.6 million people would go back to the job they left if given the opportunity?
Starting a new job after walking away from one can be a daunting task. Some employees may miss the familiar culture of their previous job, struggle to build relationships in their new organization, or long for the safety nets to which they had grown accustomed. In other words, these employees might be discovering the grass isn’t always greener on the other side!
I’d like to introduce you to the term boomerang employee.
Boomerang employees are former employees who return to their previous employer after a period of time. Due to the struggle in today’s labor market, many organizations are more willing to rehire former employees. You might be thinking, how could a boomerang employee be a good thing?
- Boomerang employees can enhance your company’s culture. They could be your brand champion and offer uplifting morale to your current team by providing powerful historical perspectives and in-depth firm insight.
- They can also offer economic advantages. Boomerang employees can often be onboarded more quickly than traditional hires, allowing them to become productive members of the team faster.
WORD OF CAUTION: It’s only possible to fill open roles with boomerang employees if your firm handled the team member’s exit gracefully. So, their return likely depends heavily on the way their departure went down. The way a hiring manager, and other employees, reacted to a team member’s two weeks’ notice or end time with your firm plays a significant role in determining whether or not they will have a potential return. Would you even consider returning to an organization that treated you disrespectfully? Did you, the employer, wish the best for this team member and express that sentiment to them before their departure? Most hiring managers don’t manage with the end in mind! Offboarding is a critical human resources step that is overlooked or dismissed far too often. If you are losing a team member or having to let one go, do your very best to make that offboarding experience a positive one. You never know when you might need that boomerang to come back your way!
While there are benefits to reengaging a former employee, there are also some areas to consider before doing so.
- Don’t be in a rush to rehire a former team member just because they want to come back. Remember, this team member did leave for a reason. Any number of factors could have influenced their decision to move on, from compensation to culture, from a life change to the need for remote work. Whatever the reason may be, it needs to be considered when determining if they would be eligible for rehire. Has enough changed in their circumstances to do so?
- You must have the compensation talk. Yes…the dreaded compensation talk is imperative BEFORE you extend an offer to a boomerang employee. As much as organizations hate to admit it, job seekers are STILL in the driver’s seat with regard to compensation. They are demanding higher salaries and benefits that will meet their needs amidst inflation. Questions you should be asking before jumping to hire a past team member might sound something like, “Can we afford this person? Will the increase in salary upset pay equity? Are we prepared to make salary increases to other team members in similar roles?” And that leads us to the last consideration.
- Other team members WILL perceive, whether true or not, that the boomerang employee is returning because the organization MUST be offering more money. This could lead to others getting the wrong message that to be paid more, they should just quit and come back.
The bottom line is to set clear expectations regarding compensation, timelines for promotion opportunities, and changes that might have been made to the culture since the employee left. It’s important to evaluate the rehire of a previous employee from every angle possible before extending an offer to a boomerang employee. After all, they did leave for one reason or another, and it’s vital to the employee’s success as well as the success of the firm to ask all the questions and weigh the pros and cons before bringing them back into your organization.
The second OUTSIDE THE BOX hiring strategy I’d like you to consider is the team hiring approach.
Who’s best at vetting a candidate besides the team you already have in place? Not only does involving your team make the most sense, but it also speaks volumes to your current team members that you are telling them that you do, in fact, value their opinion. It is likely you already have team members you trust, we like to call them brand or culture champions, who have really bought into your firm’s mission and values. These will be the team members you will want to train to be “hosts” in the team hiring process. While some might work closely with the newest hire, it is important to choose team members from all facets of your organization. It’s also likely they will pick up on a candidate’s ability or inability to do the job well that you, the hiring manager, could potentially miss.
ANOTHER WORD OF CAUTION HERE: It is important to think this entire process through to get it right for it to be effective. Remember, the prep work and training done will make or break this approach to hiring. The process needs to be clearly written out and explained to the team members involved. Before they can properly ask questions about whether a candidate values what the firm values, they must know what the firm values themselves!
Once your firm has placed an ad for an open position and you have identified a candidate you would like to bring in for an interview, you should choose 3-5 current team members to meet with the candidate, on the same day, for 15-20 minutes at a time; either over Zoom or in-person. It’s important to meet with the current team members chosen to participate and fill them in on the position the candidate has applied for AND to remind them their time with the candidate IS NOT A JOB INTERVIEW. Remember, HR or the hiring manager has already vetted this potential team member over the phone and seen their resume. This is not the time to ask them about their previous employment history or grill them on their skill set. This time should be used to determine if this person is a cultural fit for your firm. In other words, get to know them. Some questions your team needs to be prepared to answer at the end of their time with the candidate are:
- Is this person someone I can trust?
- Does this person share our work ethic, our approach to clients, and how we treat each other?
- Are they the type of person with whom you want to work?
- Will the addition of this team member make us better?
Each team member should give the candidate a proverbial thumbs up or thumbs down with an explanation sent via email immediately following their short interaction with the potential candidate. A unanimous thumbs-up vote should be very telling… all your hosts are a go on this hire. It is up to you to extend an offer on the spot, should you choose to do so. If this is the case, the hiring manager is the last host and has the pleasure of explaining the process of the team hiring approach to the candidate and congratulating them on the fact that everyone on the team feels like they will make the firm better. What a compliment!
As the hiring manager, it is VITAL you set the “rules” straight. Your current team members should know you trust them in this process, and should they all agree this candidate will be a great addition to the team, an offer will be extended. They should also understand if they are not all in agreement, there will not be an offer extended, and the candidate may be asked to leave, perhaps before meeting with everyone scheduled. The hiring manager, or gatekeeper, should be prepared to follow through with those guidelines. The benefits far outweigh the risks of using the team hiring approach:
- Your newest team member has already connected with your current team members. What a breath of fresh air to walk into a new job opportunity having already met people who believe in you!
- The process protects the culture of your firm. It’s vital you train your team not to “just say yes” because the candidate seemed nice. Your chosen hosts will begin to develop critical onboarding skills by learning to see beyond a resume. Their interactions with and assessment of potential candidates will likely expand with everyone with whom they get a chance to meet. They will become stronger and more protective of the firm’s vision and mission because they have a voice in who gets to join them in fighting the good fight.
- The team hiring approach EMPOWERS your team. Your current team members are ALL in agreement that the new person WILL be a great addition to the team. They will help the new team member to succeed because they played a vital role in getting this new team member the job!
- This process sets up the PERFECT onboarding stage. You have a handful of mentors to guide your new team members through the process and to actively introduce them to your firm’s mission and culture. It’s like a grown-up buddy system.
We understand there is no cookie-cutter hiring strategy or process that will be successful for every firm. These are simply ideas to aid you in stretching your creative muscles regarding the way you approach hiring. It is important to view these OUTSIDE THE BOX ideas from every angle before deciding on one that will best suit you and your firm. Hiring good people takes intentional effort, and sometimes it takes thinking outside of the box to find what works. Happy Hiring!