All posts by Elaine Porteous

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

When you rehire an ex-employee, especially one that was a star, it looks like you are getting a great deal. What you see is what you get. They understand your business and its own unique culture, are immediately productive and bring industry knowledge and new ideas.

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

The best-case scenario is when an employee wants to return because he has had time to learn new skills and has gained in-depth work experience somewhere else that he can share with you.

The good news about rehiring top performers

Rehiring former employees often costs much less than hiring from scratch, especially since you can cut out the extremely costly recruiting and interview process. When budgets are tight, you can explore this avenue using social media, alumni groups and word-of-mouth to find out who is actively looking.

The potential rehires, also known as boomerangs, are easier to assimilate into the organization and you will save you orientation time. The thinking is that since they know exactly what they’ll be signing up for, they will be likely to stay longer the second time and therefore be less risky, more productive and better for your retention statistics.

There’s also some thought that a rehired person can provide you with a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and some industry intelligence.

So what can go wrong? Quite a lot

Not all former employees are worthy of rehiring. Let’s hope they left for the right reasons and of their own accord. Obviously, you will exclude anyone who was fired, incompetent or unproductive or suddenly has accumulated a criminal record.

Here are a few of the main disadvantages of rehiring former employees:

  •  Current managers and co-workers may feel threatened if the employee returns with a new set of skills, and especially irritated if they come back onboard with a higher remuneration package, which is quite likely. They may feel an employee already had their chance.
  •  The reason that they left in the first place may still be a problem: the boss from hell, lack of benefits, poor promotion prospects and/or lack of opportunities to learn.
  •  There may be unintended consequences if the rehire is appointed at a higher level than his previous role. It may trigger other departures if promotional prospects are blocked, i.e. waiting to fill “dead man’s shoes.”
  •  Returning employees may just not fit in. The climate and culture of the company may no longer be the same. In this case, their new presence may be disruptive and cause tension.

Develop a rehiring policy

A definite success factor is having a firm policy that is applied fairly to all potential “Comeback Kids.” Who is eligible to be rehired should be agreed upon internally and be legally defensible.  Two important elements to include are how long after leaving an employee can return, and  what’s a reasonable maximum time to be away.

In some industries, some employers also refuse to rehire an employee who left to go to a competitor. Other organizations may welcome the broader experience and give preference

to ambitious ex-employees who went off to try their hand at consulting or starting their own business.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading U.S. consultancy, is such a staunch believer in rehiring that it sponsors a Comeback Kids program, through which it actively reaches out to past employees and those from the military.

A few more things to consider when rehiring

  • Make sure the conditions that caused that person to leave are not still barriers. Exit interviews are notoriously unreliable. so it’s best to work out why the employee really left. If he undervalued the company before, has anything changed?
  • Is this person really the best candidate for the job? It should not be a quick fix — don’t take the lazy recruiter’s solution.
  • Are you overlooking quality internal candidates? Someone else internally might be just as qualified to do the job. Think about the message you’re sending and the possible repercussions of rehiring instead.

Don’t forget to brief the new employee on how things have changed since he left and any new projects that have come up since.  A “welcome back” interview shows that your company is open to hiring the best people, whatever their job history.

Would you rehire a great former employee? Let us know by commenting on the story below.

Job survival skills : get a grip on the numbers

There is fierce competition for the most interesting and challenging roles in procurement. Role content is constantly changing; procurement specialists and sourcing managers need to be more analytical and sharpen their finance skills. 

Finance within procurement

Only being able to slice-and-dice spend data will not be enough.  Managers will expect you to be able to do a should-cost-analysis, explain the implications of fixed- and variable costing and analyse financial ratios.

Fluctuations in commodity prices and upward pressure on day-to-day costs mean that you have to be on top of market and commodity price movements, technology and other innovations affecting the industry or field you work in.

Finance within Procurement 

Procurement management jobs are emerging that are really finance jobs in disguise.  Here’s an highly-paid opening posted by a global leader in industrial chemicals:

“We currently have an exciting opportunity for a Procurement Finance Lead. This individual will partner with the Global Procurement Lead to develop sourcing strategies, improve quality of supplies and services, and deliver economic efficiency.

Goldman Sachs recently advertised a senior procurement role where the main tasks were to keep up-to-date with emerging business, economic, and market trends. The successful applicant must have strong research skills,  pay attention to detail, take initiative to broaden his/her knowledge and demonstrate appropriate financial/analytical skills.

Nice work if you can get it! Employers like these look for evidence that a candidate can focus on profitability and cash flow and not just manage down current costs.

Supply Market Analysis

There is so much data available on-line with a few clicks.  However, this is not usable information.

Supply market analysis is hard, but rewarding work. An effective supply market analysis for a product or service starts with an overview of the global market and industry trends. Applying it to a category plan or a sourcing event, the researcher has firstly to validate the data and

  • understand historical prices and the price drivers
  • study the supply and demand fluctuations and market forces
  • follow the price indices such as Producer Price Index  (PPI)

all of which require analytical and research skills.  Secondly, get to know the market leaders in depth. This includes evaluating the financial health of the main players including studying their results and their profitability.   The final steps are to do a comparative analysis of the major players and prepare an industry analysis report on which you will base your sourcing decisions.

5 things to do to get ahead of the pack

1.  Brush up on your MS Excel skills now.  This involves getting to, at least, Intermediate level which means being able to analyse and sort complex data, create advanced formulas, work with look-ups, pivot tables and graphics.

2.  Become an expert user on your Company’s ERP and other internal systems.

3.  Be alert to new technologies that are being introduced to your organization including those supporting mobile media and social/business platforms. Work out how they could be applied in the procurement environment.

4Go back to school!   There are many opportunities for distance learning even if you have a day job.

5. Be more organized with your research process. Document the results and update them regularly.  It is possible to learn how to do research in a structured way. It is not all about Googling. 

What else could you do to be ready for the higher paid roles?  

Your job role might be obsolete by 2020 – will you be sustainable?

Many of the job roles we know today will be obsolete in 2020. 

If you are a meter reader, a telemarketer or a computer operator, your days are surely numbered.  Fortunately, the need for procurement management skills will not decline, but the requirements will definitely change.  Employers will be looking for those with new skills such as understanding the triple bottom line.  Will you be ready?

What will your job be in 2020?

Understanding the sustainability agenda

Job descriptions for chief procurement officers (CPOs) and senior managers in 2020 will include responsibility for sustainability strategies.  These leaders will need to define the value that sustainable procurement brings to a business as well as being able to implement the best tools and leading practices.

What is Sustainable Procurement?

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) says that it isn’t simply about being “green”, it’s about:

  • Socially and ethically responsible purchasing
  • Minimising environmental impact through the supply chain
  • Delivering economically sound solutions

Sustainable Procurement will aim to achieve a balance between the three pillars: people, planet and profit.   Your challenge will be to address them all without affecting costs and damaging supplier relationships.

What role should procurement play?

We have to:

  • reduce costs through saving water and energy,
  • promote the re-use of products and recycle,
  •  minimise packaging and transportation

And most of all, we must question why we need the product or service at all.  We need to be aware of be aware of environmental factors like emissions to air, land and water, climate change, biodiversity, natural resource use and water scarcity.

Where will the jobs be?

Many large international organizations such as Unilever, MacDonalds, Sodexo, Mattel and Alstom already have policies in place.   L’Oréal is a leader in this field.  These types of companies may become employers of choice for those people keen to follow a career in this new area.

Global not-for-profit organizations such as the United Nations and Oxfam are leaders in the public sector where it is taking hold faster than in the private sector.

Jobs that exclusively focus on sustainable procurement are rare, for the moment, but they are coming.  Within a few years, more organizations will have a dedicate person designing and managing their sustainability agenda.  A recent job advertisement for a dedicated sustainability procurement manager promised the successful applicant both an influence on strategy and a remuneration package in excess of £50 000, plus benefits.

In the retail environment and fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) sector, consumers’ preference for healthy and fair-trade products and services will force companies to rethink their agendas.     Reputational risk and brand damage are real threats to global businesses.

What skills will you need?

Stakeholder management skills and the ability to develop good relationships at all levels, both internally and externally will be vital.  Other requirements will be those common to any senior procurement job, e.g.  influencing and persuasion skills and problem solving.

People with solid experience in managing categories such as facilities management and essential services will be in demand.  Right now, most of us are too busy doing our day jobs to worry about some of these critical issues.   Read widely, take some time to absorb the discussions and keep up-to-date with developments.

Could you become a specialist in sustainable procurement?