Most human resources professionals are probably familiar with the term “boomerang hire.” This refers to someone who has left a company or organization only to rejoin at a later date. It’s a term more often applied during economic up times because it usually connotes a high-performing employee who left voluntarily to take another position. But the term can also refer to employees summarily terminated during an economic crisis who a company would rehire in a heartbeat if revenue prospects improved.
There are at least three known types of economic recoveries. One is the V-shaped recovery, where an unfortunate event causes a downturn, but where financial conditions were generally good prior to the event. When the event is addressed and remedied, the economy is likely to snap back sharply into a growth phase.
The U-shaped recovery tends to take a little longer, as you might assume, with the economy remaining in a mild recession for a period of months to maybe a year.
The final and worst scenario is the L-shaped recovery where things go down and stay down for a while, possibly resulting in a depression.
Many economists, like Tom Lee of the research firm Fundstrat, believe that this current period of decline may likely be a V shape, because the underpinning of the economy was good before the COVID-19 virus locked down the population and shut off consumerism for a period of time. If the virus can be countermanded with a vaccine or better knowledge of who is a noncarrier, we could see a quick upswing. Thus, if an organization has had a significant layoff, the leaders might want to keep track of those ex-employees for rehire.
The advantages of rehiring furloughed employees are numerous. First off, they are known quantities. Even the best interviewers can never know if the candidate they are interviewing is the same one who is going to show up as an employee. Rehires remove that unknown.
Second, bringing back a former employee generally eliminates or reduces the costs of recruiting and onboarding.
Third, hiring a recently departed employee will require little or no training at all. Such an employee can generally plug back into their job and immediately be productive.
The question is how to stay engaged with your former employees. One very successful method used by large companies, like Deloitte, is to form online alumni communities where the company and former employees can stay connected on a regular basis (Disclaimer: The platform Deloitte uses is from our sister company). Through this vehicle, companies can provide updates, research material and other items that might make rehiring less cumbersome. Also, with so many of us locked down at home right now, such an engagement may provide emotional support as well. There is no reason midsized companies cannot provide such an offering as well. Furthermore, offering such can do a lot for a company’s image because employees are more than assets; we are all people first.
Another suggestion is to complement your workforce planning with ex-workforce planning. With your current employees, you may be tracking metrics such as headcount, development needs and productivity, and then using analytics to project those needs into the future. Look at tracking those same data points for your ex-employees. Monitor how many were high performers and what skills they have, and project similar models to provide alerts when hiring needs may ramp up again. Because when the uptick comes, you want to be ready to grow with it.
As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “A good player plays where the puck is, while a great one plays where it’s going to be.” Don’t get caught fighting the last battle; be ready for the next one. Augment your future workforce with those who’ve proven they can do the job.
Originally posted on Forbes.com