Topic Hiring,

How to Reconnect with (and Rehire) Laid-Off Employees

How to Reconnect with (and Rehire) Laid-Off Employees

The 2020s have been a turbulent decade so far – and for businesses, it has been marked with employees coming and going, either by their choice or their employers. However, layoffs are often top-down decisions made due to performance or economic outlook, not anything personal to do with employees. It's not uncommon that an essential employee gets laid off, and the company will quickly or later wish to rehire them.

Layoffs can hurt company culture and are tough on all their employees. Reaching back out to laid-off employees may not be easy – and will include some degree of awkwardness – but it will also very likely be an excellent decision for both parties.

In this blog post, we will examine how an employer can reconnect with laid-off employees to hire them back. We'll also review some methods they can take in reaching out to their employees, ranging from the least personal approaches to the most personal, to show you value them as people.  

Tips for Reconnecting with Laid-Off Employees

Whether your company is performing better or you realized a certain employee's necessity, reaching back out to them directly is the best way to reconnect with laid-off employees. After all, hiring back an employee who already knows the company is easier than bringing on a new candidate who needs extensive training.

Reaching out apologetically and with empathy will help you show early that you respect your past employees and care for them. Have a communication plan to give them clear next steps of when and how to follow up with you, too. Remember that there's no way to know how being laid off affected them or their situation, so be prepared for them to turn you down or to negotiate different compensation and benefits.

Here is an overview of some of the best ways to reconnect with laid-off employees.

Send Them an Email  

Email is one of the most straightforward ways to reach out to anyone. However, this method is often seen as a low-effort, impersonal way that can hurt your approach by turning off your employees. When reaching out via email, write a message that explains your intentions and can demonstrate genuine feelings and empathy. Consider their feelings and any hardship they may have faced while being laid off. Be short, be concise, and be apologetic.

The email technique also works well to set up a more personal means of communication by alerting the employee that you would like to reserve a time and date for a phone or video call. 

Call Them Directly

Even though they are more personal than an email, they can exude low effort and may not come across as sincere as other methods if conducted improperly. However, they are still a valuable way to reach out to employees because they aren't disruptive and allow you to open communications immediately.

When calling, be direct about what you want to tell them and let them know why you're calling so there's no confusion. Prepare ahead of time what you want to say and leave a message if the call goes to voicemail. Be ready for them to be less than pleased to hear from you. Also, don't pressure them for an immediate answer; either schedule a follow-up call or email them later that day or week.

Write a Handwritten Letter 

Everyone tells you that a handwritten letter is a great way to make a message more personal and show that you are making an effort. Even though employees will appreciate this gesture, many employers do not take the time to give this method a try. Or worse, they decide to type out a letter and come across like an official notice or a "form letter" printed out for all the employees instead of the employer reaching out personally.  

Handwriting makes it more personal and feels significantly more genuine. When doing so, keep the tone conversational to avoid coming off as stiff. You want to establish a personal connection – few things are more personal than handwriting.Hiring back laid off employee

Schedule a Personal Video Call 

Personal video calls help you have more personal conversations, which are beneficial in showing empathy since facial expressions are visible. They require more effort as you often need to use other forms of communication (email or phone call) to set up a video call. However, it is a perfect method for the following reasons: 

  • It gives the employee time to emotionally process the prospect that they are going to be rehired
  • The employee may not have been expecting to be laid off, or being laid off may have caused a lot of hardships, and seeing you in person can help with a lot of their emotions
  • It gives them a chance to respond and speak to you directly so they can ask any questions and learn more about the offer and situation 

Send Them a Gift Basket

Gift baskets are an excellent idea to show how much you appreciate your employees. This approach can emphasize that you, as the employer, are genuinely sorry for laying the employee off.

It may be better used to follow up with an employee you've already attempted to reach out to if your previous correspondence left things open-ended. Unless the gift basket is personalized (especially as an initial outreach), there is the risk that former employees will think that everyone received the same gift, which makes them feel less energy was put into the process. 

Invite Them Out for Coffee

Arranging to meet in person lets you explain and connect with the most depth and have the most personal conversation possible. It's also the most difficult to coordinate, as you'll need to communicate to set up a time and place to meet. This way, you can learn more about the employee's situation, gauge their interest, and answer any questions. Seeing their body language, tone of voice, or facial expression gives insight into how receptive they are to your offer and whether they will return.

Due to the effort that goes into arranging an actual meeting, this method might be best reserved for bringing back high-level employees who were laid off or making a strong impression on people you desperately want to return.

Give Employees Time and Demonstrate Appreciation

It's impossible to know how being laid off affects an employee, and connecting with the wrong approach can deter them from coming back on board. That is why one of the safest methods is to personally call them or arrange a video call where you can truly show your support for them. Regardless, it's essential to keep in mind that you will likely need to re-negotiate salary and benefits to demonstrate early how valued this employee is to your business.

That goes beyond the initial outreach, as you'll also need to focus on building back their trust and engagement. It's likely that, even if they come back, they'll continue searching for a new position due to the damaged relationship. Show you appreciate and respect them even daily so they'll feel more inclined to stay.

Losing a job, for whatever reason, is never easy. With all the ups and downs of the national and global economy, the uncertainty of the situation can make it so much harder and stressful for everyone involved. One of the most important things we can do as employers is to understand the importance of empathy and compassion when dealing with laid-off employees.  

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