The team at Fast Company recently published an article about why someone should consider leaving an employer and then later coming back

The Fast Company piece is all about the benefits for the returning employee, but what about the employer? Why would a company embrace a former employee? What is the benefit? Michael Bloomberg, in a 1998 interview with Inc., had this to say:

Inc.: I understand that you don’t rehire people.

Bloomberg: Right.

….

Inc.: So if this person comes back, a potentially better employee, two years later?

Bloomberg: That person ain’t going to get away with it. Can’t do that. Two years later! We wouldn’t even remember who he or she was.

The first reaction of an employer in regards to the return of the prodigal might be like Bloomberg–one of dismissal. After all, the employee quit in pursuit of greener pastures. They were not happy, and they did not see the value of their employment, so why would you trust them to stay this time? What is the benefit to your firm?

As someone who recently did just this (I personally refer to my one year and two day absence as a sabbatical), I thought I would approach this from the other side– the reasons an employer should welcome back a former employee.

  • They looked for greener pastures, and came back. They evaluated the situation and made an informed decision to return after perhaps learning that the green was a trick of the light, and not a truly better space. You will get an employee who is even more loyal.
  • They can talk to others about returning. Instead of it being a negative, their return is positive sign to other employees who are thinking about jumping ship.
  • They bring back new ideas. My exposure to multiple companies while gone provided me with even more experience and perspective that I am able to bring back to Xactly.
  • They come back rested and ready — and you didn’t pay for the vacation. There is a energy that comes from someone who is happy to return, and an employer can embrace and leverage that energy.
  • They already know the culture, product, and the people, so the on-boarding process is much smoother.

The next time you are looking to fill a critical position, take a look at your list of employees who have left and see if you have a place and a need for them. You might find that your next best hire comes from a pool of people who used to work down the hall.