40 per cent of firms will rehire some laid-off workers: Survey

Financial services and manufacturing employers most likely to rehire former workers

As the economy slowly improves, many employers are looking to bring back workers they laid off in the past year, according to a survey.

The survey of 318 North American organizations by consulting firm OI Partners-Feldman Daxon Partners found 40 per cent of employers plan to rehire some former workers as either full-time employees or as consultants and freelancers to add needed skills.

However, 37 per cent of employers do not plan on rehiring any laid-off workers and 23 per cent are not sure of their plans.

The survey found more than one-half (52 per cent) of employers have at least occasionally rehired laid-off workers as either full-time employees, consultants, or for project work.

The top reason companies are rehiring, or planning to rehire, laid-off employees is their skills are known to the employers. Other main reasons for rehiring include: they fit into the company's culture and environment; there is a shortage of experts in specialty areas such as information technology, marketing, and finance; and it is less risky than hiring new employees.

"This attitude represents a major shift in employers’ rehiring philosophy. In the past, companies would not rehire laid-off employees, but now they are more willing, and more employees may consider returning," said Warren Lundy, Toronto-based partner of OI Partners-Feldman Daxon Partners.

"Rehiring laid-off employees is a way to keep hiring costs down, since there will not be any fees to be paid. Employers already know the workers' talents and skills, they can get back to performing their old jobs quickly, and have already demonstrated they fit well into the organization."

Financial services companies are most likely to rehire some laid-off employees, with 49 per cent planning to rehire at least some workers, while manufacturing companies are the second most likely at 47 per cent. Government agencies and non-profit institutions are least likely to rehire laid-off workers, at 21 per cent, followed by health care employers at 24 per cent.

"Financial services and manufacturing were among the industries affected most by the recession, and made the deepest workforce cutbacks. That is why they may be more ready than other sectors to rehire some employees they had to let go," said Lundy.

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