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The return to the fold

To get former employees back on board, some companies run home-coming initiatives

Priya Mathilakath quit as Titan’s training head in 2008, only to be back on board in 2015. Priya’s return to Titan illustrates a company policy to welcome efficient employees back into the fold, which also mirrors a growing corporate trend in India.

“Every time there is a voluntary exit and the performance of the employee was good, we make sure that the door is left open for them,” says Priya, head HR (Retail and Corporate), Titan.

Active encouragement

There are companies that seem to be actively encouraging former employees to return to their fold.

Kronos, a workforce management company, has a dedicated section for them.

“Want to come back to Kronos? The door is open,” reads a note. “If your ideal career opportunity knocks twice at Kronos, we invite you to answer the door. We openly welcome high-performing former employees to rejoin our workforce.”

For its retail division, Titan runs an initiative called ‘Ghar wapsi’ (home coming) where the HR team reaches out to former employees when they are opening in a new region.

Ola has had more than 100 employees re-join the company over the years. A recent survey on these employees found that the entrepreneurial culture was the big draw. Top performing ex-employees are earmarked and HR teams reach out to them as and when a suitable opportunity opens up.

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited has a section on its website — called ‘HP Alumni’ — where it invites employees who have left on superannuation or otherwise to connect with them for future opportunities.

Qualcomm also has an online section where it invites former colleagues to “communicate, exchange ideas, learn, and find opportunities”.

MNC like Accenture, Boston Consulting, Microsoft and Deloitte host events for their “alumni” to network.

Yogi Sriram, senior vice president (Corporate Human Resources) and Member of the Executive Committee, L&T, says the return of a former employee reaffirms the faith one has in a system.

“Talking about L&T, while people may leave for what they think is greener pastures, many feel homesick and come back. The L&T culture is difficult for any other company to replicate,” says Yogi, adding, “I am one of those who left and returned.”

Hiring former employees is usually a win-win situation. These employees usually hit the ground running, which helps the company as it means less time spent on training. And they know company’s culture well. A returning employee usually comes with new skill-sets and brings fresh perspectives.

“Hiring boomerang employees is cost-effective for the company,” says Priya. A Glassdoor study says that hiring time is reduced by at least 50% when the new hire is a known candidate, says Priya.

Striking a balance

“There is the question if former employees have an edge over others when they are considered for a position. We have built-in evaluation techniques that are aimed at just this question,” says Prince Augustin, executive vice-president, Group Human Capital and Leadership Development, Mahindra & Mahindra.

“Our company has had employees rejoin the organisation across levels and departments,” he says.

Yogi Sriram says boomerang-hiring must be done carefully, taking care of the “fitment in grade and compensation”.

“Other loyal employees should not get an impression that it pays to leave an organisation and come back on better employment terms. Due to this concern, at times, returning employees may end up coming back on a lower salary,” says Sriram.

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