The Pros and Cons to Consider Before Bringing Back an Ex-Employee

by laurahusband / last updated February 21, 2019


Should you consider bringing back an ex-employee? Karen Bell co-founder of Vincent Bell Hairdressing considers the pros and cons for you and your salon team.

As an employer, when someone leaves, it can hit you hard. In an industry that is people-focused it’s easy to take it personally. You can’t keep an employee forever and at some point they will want to try something new. If they realise the grass isn’t always greener, should you ever take them back?

The pros and cons of re-employing an ex-member of staff

There are a number of pros and cons to re-employment, and in some situations, it might not work but in today’s increasingly difficult recruitment climate we shouldn’t automatically dismiss it. In fact as a business, this is a decision we’ve recently considered. With any previous employee you know their flaws but you also know their assets. You know what makes them tick, what motivates them and hopefully you should have learned how to guide them to get the most from them. Unless there was a crime such as fraud or theft committed, I would argue that it is better the devil you know. The previous employee has been trained to your standard, knows the team and understands your brand. With some clear guidelines, strong management and structured training initiatives in place there is no reason why your former employee shouldn’t return and thrive within the salon environment.

What’s the alternative to an ex-employee?

When recruitment is hard and there is a shortage of new talent coming through, it makes sense to consider employing previous members of staff. The alternative could be to spend your resources trying to inspire those that don’t want to be trained. Equally, you could recruit a stranger who doesn’t understand your brand or your quality of hairdressing, only for them to leave once you’ve invested time and money in them.

The saying goes that everyone deserves a second chance and while I acknowledge that, I do appreciate there are reasons why some employees shouldn’t come back to your business. For example, if there’s a personality clash, if both parties feel like it’s a step backwards or if they were never that good to start with. In today’s society when good hairdressers are hard to find, why should you let pride and emotion stand in the way of a positive opportunity for your business? Some might say, ‘once a leaver, always a leaver’ but is that necessarily a bad trait? If we approached our team, expecting that one day they will leave to trial whether the grass is greener elsewhere, we wouldn’t be so reluctant to invite them back, knowing they have learned from their experience.

Vincent Bell Hairdressing recently made the decision to re-employ someone who left. We weighed up the pros and cons and in the end, it was a no-brainer. We knew the team enjoyed working with this person and that our clients missed them so from a business viewpoint it made sense to take that risk. Yes, they might leave again, but everyone leaves at some point so as an industry we need to learn not to take it personally.

The warning signs for when not to employ someone

  • If the applicant’s CV has more salon names than the phonebook.
  • If the team will resent the ex-employee returning.
  • If there’s no evidence of growth since they left your salon the first time.

This article was originally published in the March 2019 issue of Hairdressers Journal 


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