The Williamson Difference: HR Answers That Work

Considerations for Rehiring Employees

July 16, 2019

By Heather Kaiser, JD

Whether it’s a response to the tight employment market or seasonal employment rehiring, former employees are becoming more common. Rehiring employees can be beneficial to your organization, especially if they were strong contributors. You could save time and money since they are familiar with your business, and you do not need to provide them with the in-depth training required for onboarding new employees. A former employee also might have worked elsewhere since leaving your organization, which can be an opportunity to bring new skills, knowledge, and fresh ideas to your workplace.

There are also legal implications and potential liabilities to consider. We recommend employers evaluate their practices and potentially create a rehiring policy or procedure to increase administrative efficiency and reduce your risk exposure. Here are a few areas to review:

Be consistent to avoid discrimination charges. This does not mean you have to rehire everyone. In fact, it is a common misunderstanding that an employer must recall laid-off workers. However, it does mean that you must have a legitimate business reason for failing to rehire someone who is part of a protected class, when you rehired someone similarly situated who was not a part of a protected class. If you establish rehire rules around credit for prior service for benefits or otherwise, having a clear policy and applying it consistently will reduce exposures for such claims.

Consider a new background check. If you normally complete background checks, you can determine if you want to perform a new background check, or rely upon the former (or good standing). Again, if you waive the background check, you will want to have a policy and enforce it consistently to avoid claims of discrimination.

Seniority. Some employers voluntarily offer more generous compensation, benefits, and perks to employees based on their length of service. If you intend to give rehired employees credit for their prior service for seniority-based benefits, establish and communicate clear rules and apply them consistently.

Complete Form I-9. All employers must complete a Form I-9 for a new hire, but if you rehire an employee within three years of the date that a previous Form I-9 was completed, you may choose to complete a new Form I-9 or complete Section 3. For details, see our article on employment verification practices.

Provide required notices. We recommend providing the same required notices and paperwork to employees upon rehire (e.g. COBRA, handbooks, safety notices, etc.).

Review your benefit plan documents. They may allow a participant to reenroll without a waiting period depending on the length of the service break. Some retirement plans are required to give rehired employees credit for their prior service, or allow an employee to accumulate credit for vesting purposes. Since plans vary, you will want to consult yours specifically.

Comply with the ACA. For purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a rehire in less than 13 weeks is treated differently. For details, see our article “ACA reporting tip 10: Break in service/ongoing employment.”

Consider your paid time off policy. What does it say (if anything) about rehiring? Will the rehires start to accrue at a new hire basis, or will they receive a credit (in full or in part) for prior years of service?

Factor in leave eligibility. Employees may be eligible for leave depending on the length of service. Certain states have leave laws where eligibility is based on total years of service, not consecutive years. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligibility to employees who work for the employer for at least 12 months. If an employee’s break in employment is less than seven years, any time worked prior to that break would count toward meeting the 12-months of work requirement. Once the employee is rehired and meets the 12-month requirement, the employee only needs to work 1,250 hours immediately preceding the leave to be eligible for FMLA.

Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If the employee was previously receiving an ADA accommodation, such as a job modification, you will need to engage in the interactive process again – depending on the length of time that had elapsed and the nature of the request.

Are you a federal contractor? If so, there are reinstatement requirements (such as for sick leave) as well. You will want to review those requirements.

Whether or not you are reinstating seniority, benefits, or otherwise, we encourage you to communicate the policy to your rehired employee. This will set their expectations from the start and hopefully avoid any confusion.

O.C. Tanner helps organizations inspire and appreciate great work. Thousands of clients globally use our cloud-based technology, tools, and awards to provide meaningful recognition for their employees. Learn more at

This article was originally published on O.C. Tanner’s blog, ‘a’ Magazine (

Avoiding Workplace Communication Breakdowns

July 16, 2019

By Strategic Human Resources, Inc.

Let’s face it – it’s summer. The sun is out, the pool is open, and vacation is calling. Communication is tough when you’re all in the office and focused, let alone when one team member is on vacation and two others are preparing for theirs’ the following week. In the chaos of vacations and summer schedules, here are a few ways to keep your team together during these hectic few months.

First, let’s talk about how you plan to communicate. In her Zinc article, 4 Common Causes of Communication Breakdowns at Work, Kristen Wells makes the excellent point that different modes of communication are required for different types of communication. Is the topic complex, layered, and most likely going to generate several questions? That may be best for in-person and perhaps in a group. Is this another meeting that could have been an email? Think twice before you schedule time on the team’s calendar.

Secondly, let’s consider who you’re communicating to. This can be examined in two different ways: by generation, and by personality. In Robin Throckmorton and Linda Gravett’s book Bridging the Generation Gap, they make the point that each of the generations in the work force have a form of communication that is preferred by the majority:

  • Radio Babies (1930 – 1945) – Face to Face

  • Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) – Meetings

  • Generation X (1965 – 1976) – Email

  • Generation Y (1977 – 1991) – Text and Email

  • Generation Z (1991 – present) – Text and Face to Face

These preferences will invariably differ from person to person, and each person’s preference is not determined solely by their age. This is why it’s also best practice to consider the individual’s personality and their own personal style.

In a summary of Mark Murphy’s research of personality and communication styles, Karl Sun points to four different communication styles and how to best connect with them in his Forbes article 4 Ways to Combat Workplace Communication Breakdowns. Below are those styles, as well as examples of how to communicate with them:

  • Analytical Style: these individuals prefer facts, data, and specific language.

    • Ex: “Hey team, we need your August timesheets filled out, including the hours spent volunteering on the 8th, by 12 pm on September 1st.”

  • Intuitive Style: They want to know the big picture – avoid bogging them down with detail.

    • Ex: “Team – timesheets due by 12 pm on September 1st. Thanks!”

  • Functional Style: These folks want to know the process.

    • Ex: “Team – don’t forget that timesheets are due September 1st. We need them by noon so that we can check them, submit them to accounting, and get them processed so we can all be paid on time.”

  • Personal Style: there’s an emphasis on relationships here.

    • Ex: “Team – what a productive month we’ve had! Thanks to everyone for the hard work you’ve put in, we so appreciate it. Please make sure to get those timesheets in by September 1st to make sure that your hard work doesn’t go to waste.”

We can break everyone down by age, gender, personality, location, but in the end, the best way to understand how someone likes to communicate is to ask them. Before your team scatters to the wind to enjoy the sun, take a few minutes to check in and see what works best for them. From there, your summer should be a breeze!

Strategic Human Resources Inc. is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at

How to Leverage Insights from Exit Interviews

July 16, 2019

By Allie Kelly

Exit interviews are important tools for HR because they provide insights into company operations and culture that would otherwise be impossible to get from current employees. To make the most of the process, HR stakeholders should develop consistent processes that aim to collect valuable, measurable data.

Create an exit interview policy

To ensure consistent insights, it is important to develop a standard procedure for conducting exit interviews. Your policy should specify which stakeholders are responsible for conducting the interview, when the interview should be held, and which questions will be asked. In organizations with multiple departments, there may need to be some customization of each part. The important thing is that each team have a repeatable process.

When your organization is able to achieve a regular exit interview process, you will be able to glean more valuable insights from the data each interview generates. If questions are inconsistent, it will be difficult to spot patterns and make meaningful change within your company. From this base, you can develop a list of key questions and topics that will drive your strategic goals.

Create a list of questions

The questions you ask departing employees can help you develop strategies for reducing turnover, improving the company culture and creating consistent operational improvements.

Successful Culture CEO and Inc. magazine contributor Marissa Levin recommends asking questions similar to the following:

  • Why are you leaving the company?

  • What did you enjoy about working at the company?

  • How do you think the company can improve?

  • Is there anything about your position’s duties that management should know?

  • What should future hires know about your position before starting?

All questions should pertain to the existing employee’s relationship to the company. Questions about other employees should always be avoided. Likewise, you should not ask any questions about the employee’s personal life.

Put your data to work

Collecting data from exiting employees is only the first step. The next move stakeholders should make is to use the data to improve processes. For example, a report from Gallup recommends using exit interview data to add market intelligence to your organization’s recruitment strategy.

For instance, your data will let you know which competitors are driving talent away from your company. Then, you can find out what aspects of those other companies is attracting your employees. Having this intelligence will help you craft future recruitment strategies.

If you’re unable to beat the competition in terms of salary or benefits, look for other ways to increase your appeal to potential employees. Optimizing your employer brand will help your company stand out from the competition.


To summarize, you can get the most value from your exit interviews by:

  • Developing a consistent exit interview process.

  • Creating a list of questions that provide measurable data.

  • Using the data from interviews to inform your recruitment strategy.

Allie Kelly is the vice president of marketing at JazzHR (, where they’re on a mission to make recruiting and hiring easy, effective, and scalable no matter what growth looks like at your company. The Jazz Performer Platform doesn't just help your company grow, it can help your recruiting process grow up, putting you on the path to hiring “Performers Only.”

6 Unconventional Skills to Develop for Future Professional Success

July 16, 2019

By Sharlyn Lauby

We spend a lot of time talking about what organizations need to do in order to be successful: things like candidate experience, employee experience, company culture, etc. One of the prerequisites of developing a world-class organization is having a human resources department that can partner with the business to make it happen. I hate to say it, but a mediocre HR team may or may not have the bandwidth to build a best place to work.

But that doesn’t mean you’re out on your own. I just finished reading the book, The CMO of People: Manage Employees Like Customers with an Immersive Predictable Experience that Drives Productivity and Performance by Peter Navin and David Creelman. This book offers a unique perspective on the HR profession and how to build a Human Resources function that is up for the task of creating that best company the C-Suite is looking for.

One chapter in the book that really spoke to me was on “How to Build an Unconventional HR Team”. Navin and Creelman highlight six skills that human resources professionals should focus on for their professional development.

  1. Collaboration shows a willingness to work with others. Often in HR, we can be accused of being the “department of ‘no’” and this can exclude us from critical business conversations. While it’s true there will be times when we do have to say no to protect the business, there are also times when we can open the HR lab for a little experiment or do an A/B Test to determine the best strategy.

  2. Curiosity demonstrates our ability to learn, explore, and look for creative solutions that all stakeholders can support. I agree with Navin and Creelman that sometimes the word “creative” can conjure up images of artistic ability. It can also be associated with bending the rules (and not in a good way). It’s time to think of curiosity as a positive attribute that is focused on creating a win.

  3. Data and Technology Savvy have to be on the list. You simply cannot be a human resources professional today without having some level of competence in technology and data analysis. You do not need to be a computer programmer, but Human Resources departments without a tech component will be left behind. Employees are looking for modern work experiences that match their personal lives.

  4. Executive Presence is defined by the authors as “having the communication and storytelling skills to sell things to skeptics”. I can totally see this being a necessary skill. We can come up with the best ideas in the world but if no one buys into them, then they’re not going to happen. In addition, we have to keep the buy-in of stakeholders, so projects stay fully supported (and funded!)

  5. Risk-Taking involves recognizing opportunities, being comfortable with managing risk, and having the judgment to shut down something that’s not working. I must say the last part of that sentence about shutting down projects and programs that aren’t working is so critical. Organizations that want to move forward sometimes need to change the past.

  6. Systems Thinking is the ability to see how all of the pieces fit together. Whether that’s within a department or the organization as a whole, HR pros need to understand how the organization works. It’s critical for effective recruitment, onboarding, learning, and planning. It also is a key component of selling ideas to management (#4).

On some level, I could see these skills being highlighted in a company-wide management and leadership skills training program. The company might also want to develop some behavioral based interview questions around these areas to make sure that future hires have a sense of curiosity or proven skills in collaboration.

I can see “The CMO of People” being required reading for human resources pros before going into the department’s annual strategy and budget session. It’s a perfect time to talk about what HR wants to accomplish in the upcoming year and, more importantly, how they’re going to go about achieving it.

Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender (, a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be contacted on Twitter at @HRBartender.

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