Talent Management

6 Reasons Why You Need to Work at Re-Recruiting Your Own Employees

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First of two parts

If you expect to win “The War to Keep Your Employees,” you must continually assure that the best offer that a top performing employee receives comes from inside your own firm.

In order to assure that, management must periodically approach top talent and recruit them again (re-recruit) just as if they were a new external prospect.

Although I coined the term “re-recruit” more than 20 years ago, it is still an effective retention tool today. Its basic premise is that you must re-energize your best employees every few years either by redesigning their jobs or offering them a new one that is clearly superior to what any external recruiter might offer them.

Much like married couples can re-energize their marriage by renewing their vows, managers should periodically change and update what the company has to offer during the re-recruiting process.

Re-recruiting is necessary because even if your top performers are loyal and have not actively applied for a new job, they are still constantly being identified, assessed, and contacted by corporate recruiters and by employees seeking out potential employee referrals. Your desirable employees will also be identified indirectly through benchmarking efforts and having their ideas and work viewed and/or read on the Internet and on social media.

6 reasons Why Re-recruiting is effective

There are many reasons why re-recruiting your own employees is a powerful and proven retention and productivity improvement approach. Those reasons include:

  1. Re-recruiting can keep them out of a rut — Even well-treated top talent will eventually get bored or want a change of pace. Research has shown that entering a rut can occur as frequently as every 18 months, so new opportunities need to be offered frequently.
  2. Employees have continual contact with recruiters — Because the best employees are being contacted as many as five times a week, managers must realize that top talent doesn’t need to apply for a job in order to get an external offer. Unfortunately, many managers are naïve and they don’t realize that recruiter and referral contacts are continuous because the Internet and social media make finding and communicating with top talent so easy.
  3. The process makes internal offers more exciting — Re-recruiting works because it is based on the foundation principle that top performers and innovators want 1) continuous excitement, 2) to be doing the best work of their life, and 3) to have a significant impact. To ensure that these three things are continually happening, re-recruiting requires that you assign responsibility to both their manager and HR to maintain that excitement. And by sharing the responsibilities, you increase the likelihood that several individuals are making sure that targeted employees periodically receive superior internal offers that meet each of these three factors.
  4. Unexpected recognition can be powerful — Because re-recruiting is not a scheduled event, employees are often surprised and extremely pleased to hear that the firm thinks enough about them to recruit them again without the pressure created by an external offer. Obviously the same exact offer by the firm in response to an external offer would not be viewed as positively. In addition, because it happened once, most employees will assume that they will be periodically re-recruited in the future if they stay.
  5. Being first with an offer has an impact — If their current firm makes their re-recruiting offer first, the odds are high that the employee will stay because of inertia, coworker and family pressure, and the fact that there is no counter-offer to compare to.
  6. Typical internal opportunities are not driven by competition — Because  many employees are taken for granted and the manager is not aware of external competition, when managers do provide an internal offer, it is likely to be as much as 25 percent lower in rewards, excitement, and learning compared to the verbal offer that the employee received from an external recruiter. 

Treating internal candidates like external candidates

External recruiters beat internal managers at selling. Even if the internal opportunities received by your top performers are excellent, it is unlikely that they will be sold as effectively as an external recruiter can. Usually internal openings are merely posted and no internal recruiter will proactively contact the employee to tell them how exciting it is and how that employee would be a great fit.

Internal offers usually come instead from managers who are not as skilled at selling as trained recruiters are. An external recruiter is likely to continually rave about a potential recruit’s talents and potential, while those offering internal opportunities are likely to be more reserved.

In addition, external recruiters never mention any downsides at their firm, so your employee will only hear about the rosy side of any new external opportunity.

Your job is to assure that the best offer a top performer receives comes first from within your firm, as opposed to from an outside recruiter!

Tomorrow: Action steps that help in the re-recruiting process

Dr. John Sullivan is a well-known teacher, author, and HR thought leader. He is a frequent speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley firms. Formerly the chief talent officer for Agilent Technologies (the 43,000-employee HP spin-off), he is now a professor of management at San Francisco State University. An expert on recruiting and staffing, he was dubbed the "Michael Jordan of Hiring" by Fast Company magazine. Contact him at johns@sfsu.edu.