As a lifelong Manchester United fan, there were equal parts of delight and trepidation about the return of Cristiano Ronaldo. Just one weekend later, there couldn’t have been a better start to Ronaldo’s second stint in Manchester, with the team beating Newcastle 4-1 and Ronaldo getting 2 goals.
This isn’t a sports column, so the business slant here is: should companies rehire their former employees. Like many questions in life, there’s no one right or wrong answer. Here’s 4 pros and 3 cons to think about.
Pro #1 You Know Exactly What You’re Going To Get (Most Of The Time)
In getting back Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United knows exactly what they’re getting – a world-class player who’s going to score a lot of goals. Similarly, companies that rehire their former employees will know their strengths and weaknesses.
Manchester United also knows Ronaldo as a person. Back in his first stint, current manager, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, played alongside him. Other backroom staff such as Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher were also his teammates, while Mike Phelan, the current assistant manager was the first-team coach.
Ronaldo also maintains a great relationship with the Man United hierarchy. The relationship between him and former manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been described as a father-son bond. And he has also played with Raphael Varane (another new signing) while at Real Madrid.
As a company, former employees who rejoin will very often be able to tap on established relationships at the company to settle in more quickly (which we discuss in the next point). But more importantly, you understand the person’s ability as well as work ethic and character fit.
Pro #2 You Save Time, Effort And Even Money Rehiring Former Employees
Just like Cristiano Ronaldo, who was voted Man of the Match in his first game, a former employee will be able to hit the ground running.
As mentioned in the point above, hiring former employees mean they already know the people and can settle in very quickly. There’s also a limited requirement to train them to understand your business or introduce them to internal processes.
While some things would likely have changed since they were last an employee with you, majority of the process should still be similar.
Ultimately, being able to get an employee productive from day 1 saves you time, effort and money.
Pro #3 They Have More To Offer Than When They Left
Real Madrid paid a world-record fee to prize Ronaldo away from Manchester United. During his time away from Man United, Ronaldo became one of the most lethal finishers in the world and won 15 trophies with Spain’s Real Madrid and 5 trophies with Italy’s Juventus.
In the same way, employees usually leave to build their career. Thus, when considering a former employee, you would typically be interviewing a better version of their former self. This can mean new skills and new contacts to improve your business. They would also be wiser than when they left.
Combined with the fact that you already know how they were performing when they left, it usually translates into a higher-performing employee. With newer perspectives on how other companies do business or experience from other industries, they can also be change-makers – leading the company to evolve and/or win new business.
Pro #4 It Reflects Well On The Kind Of Company You Are
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably still the best player on the planet. He didn’t come back to Manchester United for a retirement pay-off (just for the money). He still wants to win the biggest trophies – and this underlines the ambitions of Manchester United, as well as the fact that Ronaldo thinks it’s going in the right direction after years of underperformance.
In the same vein, a former employee that wants to rejoin your firm means that you have a desirable workplace. The team morale is high and the company culture is solid.
Con #1 Do They Really Have More To Offer?
Cristiano Ronaldo built himself into one of the most prolific strikers in the world. This is a change from the dazzling footwork he used to produce to beat defenders while at Old Trafford (Man United’s homeground).
This is not to say that Cristiano Ronaldo does not offer more. But he certainly offers something different to when he was in Manchester United.
You need to ask yourself the same question. What does the former employee offer? Do they really fulfill the requirements for the job? To answer this question, you should be your own devil’s advocate – consider all the cons and the worst-case scenario, even though you are leaning towards a “yes”.
Con #2 How Will They Fit In The Existing Hierarchy Of Seniority?
Manchester United has many great players. They have their captain – Harry Maguire. They have their penalty-taker, free-kick specialist and current talisman in Bruno Fernandes. They already have a footballing legend, Edinson Cavani, occupying Ronaldo’s preferred No.7 Jersey. They also have other senior players like Paul Pogba.
When Ronaldo is back, there will be a question of whether he is simply given things. He certainly has the clout to undermine current club captain Harry Maguire. He has the track record and stature to demand penalties and free-kicks. And, Cavani has already given up the no.7 shirt to him.
When a former employee comes back, they may think they are more senior than your current leaders. They may expect more respect or to be listened to. You need to understand the person that you’re hiring and the role you intend for them to fill.
This means going through the interview process is still relevant, even if you know their CV. Onboarding them is equally important, even if they’re already familiar with the processes. Rehiring wrongly can affect team morale rather than improve it, and lead to other quality members leaving.
Con #3 Is There An Open Position Or Are You Just Rehiring Because Of The Opportunity?
There’s no doubt that when this writer is in his senior years, he will be telling his children or grandchildren of how great a footballer Ronaldo was.
But one question here is whether Manchester United needs the type of player he currently is. Man United already has outstanding forwards in Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and others. They’re not as hot in other areas of the pitch.
Should only those areas be prioritised? Or should you always make space for high-quality talent, regardless of what they do, when they’re available? There’s no right or wrong answer here.
No Need To Cut Ties With Former Employees
There’s no need to cut ties with employees when they walk out the door. In fact, maintaining a cordial relationship is in your advantage. Creating a “mini-alumni” could also be a handy strategy to arrange for regular catch-ups every year or half-yearly.
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